My last newspaper job had one benefit that I definitely appreciated.  Located in the town that hosts the Eastern Idaho State Fair, I could be guaranteed of seeing big-name music acts up to three nights every year.  All I needed to get through the gate and wander up to the stage to take photos was a press pass and a camera.

I saw some great shows that way.  I could try to reel off a list of names of performers that I saw there through several years of having that being part of my job duties, but I’m sure I’d forget a couple of them.

There were some performers that were easier to remember than others.  Charlie Daniels and Travis Tritt put on one of the best single nights for a concert together that I can recall seeing in person.  They had those fairgrounds rockin’.  Alabama rocked quite a bit too.  Crystal Gayle’s hair was “all that,” and her voice … sweet.  Ray Stevens was funny.  Vince Gill was one fine guitar picker.  Diamond Rio had a great sound.  The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Oak Ridge Boys, Tanya Tucker … on and on the list goes.  Sawyer Brown sounded great together as well, and lead singer Mark Miller sure did know how to get around the stage.

Best of Sawyer Brown
Best of Sawyer Brown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yeah, Mark Miller could do some boot-scootin’ kind of boogiein’.

As I was searching the web trying to recall around what year it was that I saw Sawyer Brown at the fair (it was 1989), I was reminded of a charitable thing that the band did that year.  One of the local high schools had put on a fundraising show and brought in a big band with proceeds going toward Students Against Drunk Drivers (SADD).  The school’s student body president signed a contract making him personally liable for any financial responsibilities, such as damages or paying off people for any expenses incurred.

There were some damages, there was a big bar bill, and the SADD concert fell way short of budget.  The student body president was left with a debt no high school senior could pay off.  It got some national publicity.

Sawyer Brown saw that and decided to donate $1 for every ticket sold for its show at the fair that year to go toward the student’s debt from the SADD show, presenting the student body president with a check for $10,000 the night they performed to cover the debt left to him.

That was cool.


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