SHRINEDOM 2017 – What happened?

Shrinedom 2017

Irasburg VT
September 16 2017
A first hand experience
Photos & Review by Frank Piercy

When I first heard of this, I knew I had to go and be part of this. A day long outdoor show showcasing some up and coming Country Western Artists and a couple of local party bands, followed by the amazing line up of Firehouse, Slaughter, Warrant, Lita Ford and then headlined by former Motley Crue bad boy and front man, Vince Neil. Then to top it off, Eddie Trunk of “That Metal Show” fame was playing host for the main stage.

The closest thing to an 80s rock fest in New England.

The clincher for me though, was that this is an event to benefit Mount Sinai Shriners #3 of Montpelier VT and help give them more funds to continue their charitable work, work that benefits a couple of local hospitals.

I grew up in a family surrounded by family members involved in Freemasonry. My grandfathers were Master Masons, one of my uncles was also a Master Mason, another uncle was a Master Mason also and a Shriner. Then there were was my grandmother, mother and aunts, who were involved in Eastern Star.

My father was a Master Mason, and also a Shriner, who surprised us all with his love of being a clown. Who knew a 22 year Army and Vietnam Vet would find so much joy in doing that.

I drove the 5 hours from my house in Connecticut to Irasburg VT, a very lonely drive up a very scenic and foggy I-91, after a very short stop at home after the Ace Frehley show in Poughkeepsie NY. My concern for the day grew as the sun came up and the fog got thicker and the sky overcast, but that changed as I got within a few miles from Shrinedom 2017 and the sky cleared up.

I got there with a few minutes to spare before the first band hit the platform and wondered around the grounds, checking out the food vendors. I was in heaven, someone who actually sold Poutine was here.

In a bit of a twist, they were starting the day off with some New England Country Western musical talent. Caroline Gray was the first act to set a boot on the stage. Personally, I am not much of a fan of Country but they sounded good. She has a great voice and the band was tight. I enjoyed listening to her.

Hosting this small stage, if you could call it a stage, was Tod Pronto, and next up was another Country act.

Southern City Band is another Boston based group with members from all over, and another lead singing lady. They were interesting, guitar, drums, keyboards but I did not see a bassist. I enjoyed this set also, but probably because any band where the guitarist is wearing a Kiss shirt, can’t be all that bad can they???

Alec MacGillivray was on the trailer next, with his band, The Shifty Henry’s. Interesting sound and look, when I saw the guitarist I was expecting to hear surf music… Hitting the stage with an acoustic guitar, I thought finally, going to hear some of the typical country I grew up with. I was wrong, it had that rock edge to it. And the drummer was off the wall.

After these acts, the tone changed for the bands on this stage.

With the next band up, Raized on Radio, it was time to start warming the crowd up for the Rock to come on the main stage.

Raized on Radio is a local party band that plays covers, with a lead singer who may be, lack for a better word, petite but full of energy and knew how to work the crowd, even stepping off the stage and walking into the crowd and bringing them into the moment.

That was it for the small stage, it was time for the big boys to start playing, it was time to move to the main stage.

Kicking things off on the main stage, was another local cover band, Mind Trap. A 5 piece outfit that were playing 80’s hard rock tunes, they didn’t sound bad and they had a bit of stage of presence. These guys were for the most part looking like the rockers they are working to be, but to be honest, I was not there to see or hear cover bands.

I have more to say about these guys in a little bit, keep reading. This is where this gets really interesting.

4 songs into their set, they get shut down.

As I was standing there watching them from the side of the stage, the stage manager starts rather emphatically giving the soundboard the signal to kill it. You know that motion, the finger slashing across the throat. Then at the table next to me, where they were selling Firehouse and Slaughter merch, it all gets quickly packed up and taken away. And a crowd stood there in disbelief. As we watched the stage getting dismantled, the rumors started to fly and the crowd starts to get angry. And people are still coming in, and they were still taking their money.

Over the last few years, I have attended some, for lack of a better phrase, shit shows. I was at and covering The “Party in the Pasture” back in 2015, when Jack Russell’s Great White was supposed to do their first New England show, since the tragic Station fire. Low turn out and then at the end of Steelheart’s set, the power went out and he never took the stage. At least Jack Russell and the band came out and met with the fans.

In 2016, I was at and covering 2 of the days of Laconia Fest during Bike Week at Laconia NH, the 2 days after the promoter allegedly ran off with the money. Bret Michaels stepped up to the plate that first day and hit a home run in my eyes, the show went on. Even with a lot more issues than most there knew about. I watched the main stage come down after Ted Nugent’s night when there was supposed to be at least one more day of music.

I spoke with the promoter 2 weeks before the show, and was assured that the show was going to be going on, I spoke with the promoter about the Shriners and my connection with Freemasonry. We spoke about next year and where the Shriners were hoping to take this. I actually got excited, it could work with the right bands, look what happened here with Phish a few years back.

I was told if I bought a Stage Front ticket, he would give me a photo pass to cover the show, then went into the usual 3 songs only, no all access, no backstage, if I sold prints of any my shots from this, I was asked to donate the proceeds to the Shriners. I should have listened to my gut at that point. That is not the way it usually works.

At this point the promoter had disappeared, it is at least an hour went by before anything was told to the crowd; a crowd that was growing more and more angry with each passing minute and each passing rumor. I heard, that the generators died, that the bands didn’t show up, that the stage and sound people didn’t get paid and also that the bands didn’t get paid.

The story at that point was that were money issue’s but the generator broke, nearest one was in Boston and was at least 3 or 4 hours out. While one of the lead Shriners was trying to yell over a very angry crowd to explain this, music was still playing over the main stages PA.
The stage that supposedly had no power.

This is where it gets really cool.That band Mind Trap, the one that more or less got kicked off stage earlier, came to the rescue. A generator was found, and they set the trailer back up as a stage and took the stage along with Raized on Radio, who had a PA system in their equipment trailer, playing to a crowd of several hundred who were still hanging around at this point. I do not know this band, they are a Vermont party band, but a very popular one, and the actions they took this afternoon won them over a lot of folks especially a few Shriners who seemed to be in the same boat the crowd was.

I decided to leave, and as I was leaving I ran into the promoter, who looked at me and said “The generator broke down and that’s it”, gave me a disgusted look and kept walking into a camper.

It was time to go home.

As I drove home, I finally got cell service when I hit Massachusetts and that’s when I started seeing what is apparently the truth.

Per a tweet from Eddie Trunk, the bands, stage and lighting had not been paid. Mark Slaughter answered a message to one of the attendees, stating that the same thing. Firehouse also commented towards that reason.I also had a source close to the situation reach out to me and confirm this also.

I spoke with some people I know, from what I described to them, it sure wasn’t the generator.

There is one memory from this, that I can not get out of my head.

During the soundcheck for Vince Neil, I went over to the fence and started talking with an older gentleman. We started discussing the 80s and 90s music scene. He was lucky enough to be in the Baltimore area back then and spent a lot of time at Hammerjacks and a couple of other places. He started talking about how since moved to this area of Vermont, there was nothing like that there or even any place close by to go see a concert.

He introduced me to his partner in crime for the day, a 10 or 11 year old little girl with a big smile and bright orange ear plugs sticking out of her ears. My memory is shot, I don’t remember if it was his daughter or his granddaughter, but what I do remember was this was her first concert. He was so proud of that and she was obviously excited about this too, judging from the grin on her face. We talked for a few more, I gave him my card and I had to run and shoot one of the country bands.

I can’t imagine how upset this little girl was, I don’t want to imagine how he felt.That disappointment is heartbreaking and as I think of it even now, I have tears in my eyes.

I do plan on following up this story in the near future, many questions still have to be answered.

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