Black July – Summer 1982
Them Fargo Brothers were having a busy touring season that summer. We had already traveled down through New York – played at O’Lunneys in NYC and moved down to Wildwood, NJ to play at “Miss Kitty’s Saloon”. We were riding on the wave of the mechanical bull clubs that we opening everywhere at the time. We returned back to New Hampshire for a few days off before heading out again. July was heavily booked, starting with a club date in Boston for a week and then we were to head up the Maine coast.
It was a very hot day when we left for Boston – in the mid-90’s and quite humid. We had an early 70’s Dodge Cube Van with the back third partitioned off for our equipment. The rest of the truck we insulated and paneled – nicely laid out with bench seating behind the driver and passenger seats. – we also had storage under the benches. The only ventilation besides the windows in the front doors, was a vent installed in the roof and, of course, there was no AC.
I was driving and all was well until we were about to exit off RT 495 onto RT 128, when I noticed the engine was beginning to over heat quite quickly. I knew that if I shut the motor off, we may not be able to restart it and we didn’t want to be stranded on the side of the highway in that heat. I slowed down to about 40 mph and the motor was bucking and threatening to quit.
Now Bruce, our steel guitar player, is a very ingenious man. You have to be to play that instrument and play as well as he does. The engine compartment on that truck was set between the two front seats and the compartment cover could be easily removed from the inside. Bruce surmised that in order to keep the truck running, we needed to cool down the area around the carburetor. We had a large cooler which we had filled with ice. Bruce took a towel and placed many ice cubes in it. He removed the air cleaner cover from the carburetor and began to drip cold water from the ice around the carburetor onto the intake manifold. I knew our problem was due to a stuck thermostat that was not allowing coolant to flow freely, but enough was flowing or the radiator hose would have blown. Onward we went! Ever so slowly – down to 30mph now – but the van kept running.
We were about 50 miles outside of Boston at this time and, man, it was hot! We all were soaking wet with sweat and not in very good humor. We decided the best thing to do was to head for the motel where we had rooms booked – check in – let the van cool down some, before heading to the gig to set up.
Well, we all got showers in, dressed for the gig and headed back out. By now, it was dusk and it had cooled down quite a bit. So had the van. It started – but by the time we approached the club it had begun to over heat again. When we arrived, we were shocked to see an official looking sign on the door of the club stating in large letters – CLOSED – and in smaller letters, by order of the State Health Department.
We went back to the motel, cancelled the rooms, actually got some of our money back, made it to a gas station by RT 128, had the thermostat removed, bought a bunch of sandwiches and beer, and headed home to New Hampshire.
But that was only the beginning. As it turned out we lost every gig we had for that month for various reasons. So in the annals of our band history, that month became known as Black July!
Here is what I believe to be the best recording made of the band at that time, and actually the best recording of the band live ever made!
Recorded by Dave Morrill at the Oxen Yoke in North Conway, NH on December 8th, 1979.
My favorite song on this album is a song we covered by Steely Dan called “With A Gun”. You can hear the song:
Hey, if you want a copy of the record, just head on over to my web site – http://www.Billmadisonmusic.com -It’s on the CD’s?Quilts 4 Sale page!
Thanks for your time – hope you enjoyed this – and see ya’ next time! Have a great week!