Creating a charity event as large as the Snake, Rattle and Roll Jam concert could drive promoters insane. But The Bellamy Brothers are _ to quote the title of one of their hit songs _ Crazy from the Heart. "It is a monster, but it's a nice monster," David Bellamy said of the event he and brother Howard have created and are expected to top every year. Howard Bellamy amended that description:
"It's a friendly dragon," he said with a proud smile.
The efforts of The Bellamy Brothers _ East Pasco County's contribution to country music _ attracted an estimated 10,000 people to the Jam at $15 per ticket to benefit a long list of social and environmental agencies. Final tallies of attendance and donations will be released later this week. The evening went over without any major hitches backstage or on stage.
Most of the Jam's logistics have been conquered after two years. Sponsors and advertising are plentiful, and the new One Pasco Center venue softened traffic problems. A few more portable toilets and garbage cans could make the Jam as flawless as its location.
"Take a look out here," Howard Bellamy said. "It's beautiful, easy for people to find and no mosquitoes, either. We had some environmentally safe spray put out yesterday since a lot of the theme of the Jam is to heighten awareness of nature."
The industrial park complemented the environmental slant of the concert with tall pines and lush grassland. A rattlesnake's discarded skin lying on the ground was a reminder of the concert title and that humans were only guests.
Folk singer Dale Crider's performance brought an urgency to conservation. As the opening act, Crider celebrated nature with his musical skills. No T-shirts or caps were sold for Crider, but listeners took home something more lasting _ a message conveyed in breezy, poetic strokes instead of lengthy lectures. Crider's songs spoke of hope for cooperation between humans and animals in the fight for wildlife.
America stands for the challenge at hand, one lyric declared, and the wilderness tries to survive.
Following Crider, Mel McDaniel charged into his 45-minute appearance. McDaniel was nursing a chest cold, so he blitzed through the performance with intensity and minimal small talk. The 40-year-old Nashville veteran churned out 10 foot-stomping hits such as Louisiana Saturday Night; Real Good, Feel Good Song; and Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On.
McDaniel performed to repay The Bellamy Brothers for their help with his own hometownbenefit show in Oklahoma. The last words McDaniel sang were: Sure makes you feel good. Not many in the crowd would disagree.
A nine-song set by Lionel Cartwright showed why he is one of the fastest-rising young stars in country music. Traditional tones, good looks, and a blazing romantic streak made Cartwright's set enormously satisfying.
My Heart Is Set On You, Say It's Not True and the chart topper Give Me His Last Chance left lovers swaying in the October moonlight. His No. 1 hit I Heard It All On My Radio turned to nostalgia while I Refuse To Sing The Blues and Let The Hard Times Roll revealed Cartwright's rock 'n' roll influences.
"I think you can play country music with the same intensity or energy that you play anything else with," Cartwright said after the set. "Call it rock 'n' roll or whatever. For better or worse, that comes out in what I do."
Soon The Bellamy Brothers took the stage to a hometown heroes' welcome. Fans knew their songs by heart and most stayed until it was clear there would be no encores. The Bellamys conducted a retrospective of their 15-year recording career including Let Your Love Flow, Old Hippie, Crazy From The Heart and Santa Fe. Their trademark sense of humor shined through Get Into Reggae, Cowboy and If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me?).
More than an hour of Bellamy Brothers hits capped a year of hard work planning the concert. Typical of their homespun humility, the Bellamys spread the credit among hundreds of volunteers, crew members, security and medical personnel and vendors.
""We only kick our butts, we never pat ourselves on the back," Howard Bellamy said. "We hoped we could do something good for our community and our state, but we couldn't do it without people's help. Their input has been incredible, beyond what we ever would expect.
Still, one night's proceeds would not solve all problems for the charities. The Bellamys left little doubt that there would be a third Snake, Rattle and Roll Jam in 1991.
"It has proven itself to the sponsors and there were others sponsors beating on the bus door tonight," Howard Bellamy said. "If there are no heart attacks tonight among the people who put it together, I think it's a definite for next year. We'd be crazy not to."