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Steve Miller Band show as sweet and trippy as "Wild Mountain Honey'

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Steve Miller performing at Lost Lakes on Sunday night.
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Legendary rock acts Eddie Money and 38 Special also perform at Lost Lakes birthday bash show for rock station KRXO

OKLAHOMA CITY – About 13 years ago, while working as a reporter for a newspaper in Louisiana, I was asked by the operators of a nearby casino to come down and join rocker Eddie Money for a round of golf. You know, get to know him, and do a piece in advance of a concert he was putting on at the casino’s entertainment complex.

It was a unique opportunity. I had liked Money’s pop radio singles in the mid-1980’s – “Take Me Home Tonight” and “I Wanna Go Back” from 1986 and “Walk on Water” from 1988.

Money always had a certain energy. And while he was playing a good round of golf, he was also a bit distracted, taking a call from his son’s school back in his native Long Island. Apparently, his son (I’m not sure which – he has four) was in some trouble and this rock n’ roll dad was smoothing things out – or something.

Despite that, though, hanging out with a well-liked, blue-collar rocker like Eddie Money (born: Edward Joseph Mahoney in Brooklyn, N.Y.) was a lot of fun. He was genuinely down-to-earth and fun to play golf with.

And so, all these years later, I was at the Lost Lakes Amphitheater, just five minutes from downtown OKC, but seemingly much farther away. Located east of downtown on NE 10th, Lost Lakes Entertainment Complex is a big place – some 850 acres – out here on one of these appealing lakes, and in a wooded setting. And there was Eddie Money, taking the stage.

Now, this music event – featuring not only Eddie Money, but openers 38 Special and headliner Steve Miller Band – had been months in the works, and was to highlight the 30th birthday of local rock station, KRXO 104.5 FM.

This was my first time to Lost Lakes, a venue I’d only heard a little bit about.  It’s out near the N. Canadian River and operated by local, longtime concert promoter Howard Pollack, who heads the PM Group and was formerly the president of the Zoo Amphitheatre.

Again, it’s a big site. Traffic was a bit slow getting into the rustic, campground-styled venue. But once past the bottleneck and into the ample fields set aside for parking, things were smooth.

I took the rainbow in the sky over Lost Lakes as a sign – a sign of good things to come. And the bands this cool, breezy September night did not let us down.

I had seen 38 Special (“Hold On Loosely”) before (at the Zoo Amp, of course) and missed their set while waiting on some friends. The folks working the event – ticket handlers, parking attendants and so forth – were not well-identified with matching T-shirts or anything. And so confused patrons walked in not knowing they were to get a wristband and so forth. While I stood there, I was mistaken for some of the Lost Lakes staff. Of course that wasn’t the fault of the folks working this particular event.

A patient line of rock n' roll fans. (Andrew W. Griffin /Red Dirt Report)

Nevertheless, once past the huge waterslide and over the footbridge, I suddenly found myself in the venue itself. What I liked was the intimacy of the location. I liked how the trees were still there in front of the stage, giving the event a summer camp sort of feel.

Yeah, it had a laid-back and almost 70’s-styled vibe. The light rain falling made more than one attendee near me make allusions to Woodstock. Except there were 4,500 folks this particular night. Manageable. And no gatecrashers that I could see, save for some people stumbling out of the treeline near the parking area.

The average age of the concertgoers appeared to be about 50, and while chairs were initially not allowed, Pollack would later take to the microphone and said, “We allowed chairs because we aren’t the young people we used to be.”

Indeed.

But it was clear this crowd was ready to “rock out” with these classic rock acts, all of which are still touring on a fairly regular basis.

Pollack, we should add, told the crowd they had much more in store for Lost Lakes, while Pollack’s partner Billy Coyle, would tell Red Dirt Report that they were working out all the glitches and whatnot in making this a top-shelf concert and entertainment venue. Much more is promised, we were told.

Much more to come here at Lost Lakes! (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

And Lost Lakes is more than a place to see concerts. While walking to the gate, you pass by a beautiful lake in a setting with trees and gently rolling hills. It’s very picturesque, and I explored only a tiny portion of it the five-or-so hours I was there.

But again, I was here to see Eddie Money and Steve Miller Band, primarily, and take in the good vibes.

Eddie Money did not disappoint. He has a fun, enthusiastic style and this time some of his family is joining him, including daughter Jesse Money and one of his sons on drums (not sure if it was the same kid who got in trouble at school all those years ago).

While Ronnie Spector of New York girl group The Ronettes was not on stage with Eddie Money this particular night, to offer up her “be my little baby” line on his “Wall of Sound”-inspired  “Take Me Home Tonight,” Jesse Money did a pretty solid job, as she bounced around and banged a tambourine.

And her dad? His voice is a bit more stretched than before, after belting it out all these years, but he can still wail on both harmonica and saxophone. I was impressed. Money’s still got it, as he called out to his “ladies from the 80’s,” and talked about meeting his wife at a 1987 concert here in Oklahoma City.

Between sets, I caught up with a friend of mine and had a Miller tallboy and took in the scenes in front of me – all of which were pretty tame. Perhaps if this was 30 years ago, it would have been a bit wilder. Again, we had chairs at this show for a reason – “I wanna go back, go back, and do it all over, but I can’t go back I know” as Eddie Money sings on his hit. We are all “so much older.”

This is true. And as I write this, I’m learning that Jann Wenner, co-founder of the 50-year-old “counterculture” magazine Rolling Stone is “up for sale.” Wow! Most of the folks at the show, I imagine, have read Rolling Stone for years. I still do, although Jann Wenner is a bit of a prick (even though he was pals with longtime RS gonzo journo Hunter S. Thompson) and has a big say who does and doesn’t get into the (bogus) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, being on the “inbred” nominating committee (quoting Miller).

I thought of Steve Miller’s comments last year, after getting inducted into the Rock Hall, about the music industry being run by a bunch of “fuckin’ gangsters and crooks” and that “everybody is kind of a dick and an asshole” at the Rock Hall as well. These comments did not go down well with many in the industry. But he has had a beef with the industry for decades. 

Does Miller have a point? Sure. It’s from his viewpoint, of course, but I’ve heard things …

But enough about that. This set by Steve Miller Band (he hadn’t played OKC in years) was part of his Book of Dreams Tour, the title coming from his well-loved Book of Dreams album released 40 years ago this past May, which featured “The Stake” (the opening song of the set), and “Jungle Love” and “Jet Airliner,” which were also big hits from Book of Dreams and were the encore songs.

Oh, and not enough hi-hat flourishes from drummer Gordy Knudtson on "Take the Money and Run." A personal thing, I guess. 

I didn’t hear “Wide River,” a Top 100 single the Steve Miller Band released in 1993, from the album of the same name. Not sure why “Wide River” doesn’t get any love, since he rarely plays it live. However, Miller did perform the Elmore James cover “Stranger Blues,” which is featured on the Wide River album.

And the blues-rock guitarist and singer, who has been performing since 1966 (and Boz Scaggs was in his band in those early years), still sounded great up there (and with that distinctive voice), relaxed and ready to please this excited audience as summer was offering it’s long goodbye.

Miller’s 1968 psychedelic-blues number “Living in the U.S.A.” was dedicated to the “men and women in the USA armed forces,” Miller said. And it was delivered with panache and lots of energy.

And I got to hear two of my top Steve Miller Band faves – 1982’s hypno-pop number “Abracadabra” and the beautiful and trippy “Wild Mountain Honey,” from the 1976 Fly Like an Eagle album. In fact, Miller pulled out his 1965 Coral electric sitar and told the audience how he had purchased it for a little over 100 bucks, “back when it was groovy,” he said, “Swinging London and all that.”

And the Eastern vibe – in all its blissful psychedelia – works so well. Miller is proud of this song, as he should be. Listen to the album track version, and how he sings that fourth verse with conviction: “Come on papa / Your end is the means / Don’t trade your love and goodness / For the golden machine” With lyrics like that, Sixties idealism was still viable by the mid-70’s, at least in Miller’s world, with the likes of the Grateful Dead.

The crowd did not leave unhappy, getting to hear other highlights from the Greatest Hits 1974-78 album that is in millions of record collections out there.

Lost Lakes, as a venue and place to let loose, certainly got my interest, now that I've visited. Red Dirt Report will have more on this venue in an upcoming article. Stay tuned!

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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