By Jesse Wood
Familiar faces of the legendary P.B. Scott’s Music Hall not seen in years were present at the 10th and final reunion party at Canyon’s Restaurant in Blowing Rock on Saturday, and those that frequented the venue in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s partied like they were still in college on Saturday night.
“Oh yeah. We had an awesome time,” said Ric Mattar, a patron and investor in P.B. Scott’s back in the day.
P.B. Scott’s opened its doors on Oct. 1, 1976 before closing in 1983 when a state law caused the club to close because of new restrictions requiring establishments to balance food and liquor sales.
In the seven years that the club was open, a who’s who of musicians and bands performed in the geodesic dome in Blowing Rock: B.B. King, Arlo Guthrie, J.J. Cale, Bonnie Raitt, Ricky Skaggs, John Prine, Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Watters, Papa John Creach, New Grass Revival, Guy Clark and so forth.
For the past 10 years, the P.B. Scott’s Reunion Party has taken place in Canyon’s, and with dwindling attendance in recent years, organizer and former manager of P.B. Scott’s Randy Kelly decided to hold one last hoorah and bring back The Spongetones, who happened to perform the very last concert at P.B. Scott’s in 1983.
“I don’t know how to say it, but it was a good as we hoped,” Kelly said. “We caught the comet by the tail. It was the event of the year, and people want this to be the party they remembered.”
A week before the reunion happened, Kelly was talking about the “phenomenal response” from people saying they would attend the event or those who ordered tickets in advance. But one day before the reunion party was to take place, organizers were caught off guard with how many tickets were being ordered in advance.
The event sold out with as many as 250 to 300 people attending. Due to a concern with crowd capacity and fire codes, organizers stopped selling tickets and were letting folks in the door one by one as people left the reunion party. There was disappointment from some who were planning to attend but didn’t end up making the trek to Canyon’s because they heard tickets were sold out.
Jean Travers, who frequented P.B. Scott’s back in the day and who coordinated pre- and after-party events in Blowing Rock on the weekend of the reunion, apologized to those they weren’t able to secure a ticket.
She said she wished things could have been different but from a safety and comfort standpoint a decision had to be made to limit the amount of folks entering and exiting Canyon’s.
All in all, Travers said the event was “great” and afforded the opportunity to see folks that hadn’t attended the reunion in years – if at all. As Kelly said, it was like a college or high school reunion with folks from Aspen, Colo., Florida and Baltimore making the pilgrimage back to Blowing Rock.
Folks like Brian Fussell, who founded the venue, Allen Sharpe, an investor that kept the venue up and running as long as time would allow, and Joe Scarborough, the soundman at P.B. Scott’s, all attended the event.
“I thought it was great,” Sharpe said. I think just seeing some of the key people that enabled us to operate and be successful … It was great to see them again.”
Fussell, who saw people involved in P.B. Scott’s that he hadn’t seen in three decades, added, “I am glad it happened and glad people got together.”
Travers gave away about all of the 300 bumper stickers made just for the event, and Kelly sold out of the classic t-shirts he had produced for this event. A few bumper stickers are still available by contacting Travers at [email protected], and Kelly will order more t-shirts if he is contacted at [email protected].
Jamie Hoover, guitarist with The Spongetones, said his band had a blast like it always does when playing for fans in Blowing Rock, especially those who remember the good ole days of P.B. Scott’s.
“We had a lot of fun,” Hoover said. “It was magical and fun. They completely get us, and we get them. It’s just like going back in time. I don’t know; it’s great to play for the people that remember it.”
Hoover also had good words to say about Randy Kelly.
“He’s a very important figure in the music scene all over North Carolina. He’s now doing stuff on the coast, in that neck of the woods. He’s a visionary. Everything he treasures is gold, and he’s a great guy.”
For more about the legendary music hall, check out the April issue of High Country Magazine, which features a 5,000-word story on the venue.
See Sarah Weiffenbach’s photos from Saturday night below.
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