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Robert Nevin’s First Concert was Cab Calloway: Hi De Hi and the Harlem Globetrotters

What was my first concert? Shouldn’t be that difficult a question, right? Well, I thought I remembered my first concert, but thanks to my mother, I’m not so sure.

The answer to the question comes in two brief versions. The concert I can’t verify (thanks mom!) and the one I can.

I clearly remember going to a basketball game at Dillon Stadium, an old football field in Hartford, CT. The basketball court was next to the stadium, all outdoors. On this day my mom, older brother and I were watching either the Harlem Globetrotters or their wannabe clones, the Harlem Magicians. Doesn’t matter. This would have been circa 1959-60 at the latest. I would have been 7 or 8 years old.

At halftime a band set up; kind of an abbreviated Big Band. I’m sure they only played three or four numbers, but I remember only one song, because my mother was singing along with the call and response chorus:”HI-DEE, HI-DEE, HI-DEE, HI! HI-DEE, HI-DEE, HI-DEE, HO!” And that’s why I remember the moment, because she was singing.

I called her yesterday to get her enthusiastic confirmation of my memory. The call went something like this:

“Mom, remember when we saw Cab Calloway at Dillon Stadium?”

“No,” she said.

*sigh* My mother is 86, God love her. She’s had plenty of time to forget things, and I think that’s the case here. I reminded her, to no avail, that she sang along with “Minnie the Moocher”, Calloway’s signature song.

“I saw him at the State Theatre, but I never saw him at Dillon Stadium,” she insisted.

Nevertheless, despite lack of confirmation, I’m going with my recollection: First concert-Cab Calloway.

The show I do remember with iron-clad certainty as my “first” concert was Gary “US” Bonds. Bonds had a string of pop hits in the early 60s, his biggest being “Quarter to Three”, which went to number 1.

He appeared at the Crystal Lake Ballroom in Tolland, CT. Despite it being a small, out-of-the-way venue, many of the big R&B names of the day played there. I saw Chubby Checker and passed up a chance to see Stevie Wonder when he was still “Little”!

During our conversation I gave mom one more chance to confirm another act I’m pretty sure I saw there. Jackie Wilson.

“No, I don’t think you saw Jackie Wilson”.

Memory loss can be a terrible thing.

I’m talking about her, not me.

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