Yes, I was at Vortex 1 and I will never forget it.
I arrived at the fest with my band called "Wings of Freedom".
I played lead guitar and had graduated from high school in 1969 from South Eugene High. I later moved to Brownsville, Oregon where I saw a bunch of guys jamming in front of a supermarket one day. I had never played with a real band before and had a great time improvising and it fit pretty good. Later we all formed a band and we were managed by a guy named Jack Richardson who lived in Brownsville and had tons of Vox Superbeatle amps and a PA system and a Gibson SG guitar for me to use. He had earlier managed a band calle "The Barber Green". I remember he had a big truck that looked like an armoured truck, to haul everything in. I remember he had aircraft landing lights in the front and if anyone ever shined there bright lights on us at night would quickly dim them when we hit them with those beams!
We called ourselves "The Wings of Freedom" and we practiced nearly every day. I moved in with some girls in Corvalis and the drummer (Tom Ashmore), would pick me up in his dads Mercedes with the bass player (John Mayhan) and we would drive to Brownsville to practice in an old movie theater that was in the small town. We practice a lot and the singer Janene Wallace had a fantastic voice. We did all original songs. Our keyboard player was named Steve and always drove around in his van with his girl friend.
I remember we always played at the Pioneer Picknick and it was a huge party and a great time.
Our manager heard about the Vortex 1 Festival and told us to pack up the truck and head up to the state park where the festival was held. We drove the truck and parked it near the stage and waited for our chance to play. I listened to the other bands and they sounded really good. There was a band called the Portland Zoo and they were awesome. The music I remember was mostly Jaz and Blues and I was not sure how our hard edged rock music was going to go over. Our manager told them we would not play on the first day and then he refused to let us play on the second day too. So I just walked around the fest looking at all the beautiful nude ladies walking around and I even saw a couple in a sleeping bag getting it on right in front of everyone. I remember there was a vat of electric cool aid near the stage and lots of card tables set up where they sold weed. I ran into my best friend Krink, who had moved to Portland and played guitar and had taught me everything I knew. We jammed for a while. Before I arrived at the Fest I had seen him on TV blowing bubbles when the film crew first arrived at the fest. There were sky jumpers and one of them caught on fire from a flare he had strapped to his leg and he died before he could reach the ground.
There was a real sense of brother hood and strangers would hand you there bottle of wine or hand you a joint to toke on.
Finally our manager said to set up were going to play our set now. I was so nervous I could not stop talking with my bandmates. I remember trying to convince them (and myself) that they would like us because we had the only chick singer.
I shook my bass players hand and told him "Good Luck" just as we went out on stage. The stage was huge. There were huge amps set up that we had to use and I was not sure how to get my sound with them. There was a sea of people and the mixing board was run by the sound guy, far out in the center of the mass of people waiting to hear us.
We started playing and even though no one had heard of any of our songs, they really cheered and threw joints on the stage. I was so nervouse I could not stop stomping my feet when we played. I mean my feet were over a foot high off the ground and I kept playing like that.
The crowd and the energy was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Our last song was our theme song called "The Brownsville Boogie" Later I heard ZZ Top doing a song called La Grange that sure sounded like it but we were the first. The crowd went nuts. Just before we played it our organ players Hammond B-3 stopped working. I was really scared because he played the bass part on this song with the organ while our bass player played rythem guitar. I was amazed when Steve grabbed the bass and started to use it instead. I did not know he could even play any stringed instrument. It sounded fantastic. The crowd went cazy and we had so much fun I still feel it today.
When we left the stage the crowd kept screaming for more but our manager wanted the crowd to want more of our band but would not allow us to play any more.
I later got drafted, joined the Air Force, retired from the Air Force and now live in Guam and work for the National Weather Service and still play with one other guy in some of the clubs here. We call ourselves the Beach Geezers www.beachgeezers.veryweird.com.
If anyone has pictures from the fest please share them.
Or if you were a band member please contact me.
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