Jim Jones' Eastword column: Fourth of July in Palmetto was like our own mini-Woodstock

July 8, 2012 

It seemed a little bit like Woodstock.

Except without the mud, the nudity or clouds of marijuana smoke.

A huge, mellow crowd packed Sutton Park in Palmetto for the Three Dog Night Fourth of July concert, the prelude to the fireworks show down on the Manatee River.

There were thousands of people there in full holiday mood.

They sang along to and swayed to familiar songs such as "Liar," "One," "Never Been to Spain," and "Joy to the World."

So many people jammed into one place and getting along so well.

Several times I approached the stage to take a photo of the group, weaving my way through the patchwork of lawn chairs, blankets spread on the ground, and all those people.

Not as a member of the press but an anonymous guy in shorts and a T-shirt. Folks just smiled and allowed me through.

A measure of the peace and harmony: not one concert related arrest, according to Lt. Scott Tyler of the Palmetto Police Department.

The concert exceeded my expectations. The band was sharp, the musicianship crisp, the songs delivered the way fans wanted them -- the way they sound on our old vinyl records.

It was a blast from the past, from guys who made it into radio's Top 10 again and again when the competition was The Beatles, the Stones, the Doors, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Buy their greatest hits album and there is virtually no filler on there -- unlike some greatest hits albums that have one hit and 11 other songs.

My personal favorite from their set: "Liar." Loved those close harmonies, and the stop-and-start rhythms. More of a hard-edge to the song, too.

The band's encore, and a crowd favorite, was "Joy to the World," a song many people call "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog."

It was just about a perfect day. The rain stayed away, and as the concert began, the sun began to set, making the setting so much more comfortable.

About the only thing I didn't care for was the guy sitting near us smoking a stinky cigar. We moved several times, but it seemed the wind kept shifting and blowing it in our direction.

With so many hits, I can't understand why the band is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Some would say it's because they didn't write enough of their own material.

But I wonder. The Moody Blues is not in the Hall either, and they have written plenty of beloved songs.

Thank you Palmetto, and thank you Three Dog Night for a great evening.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941 745-7021 or tweet @jajones1

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