Vee established as festival fan favorite

By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent

Though not a direct product of Clovis’ Norman Petty Studios himself, Bobby Vee has certainly become a favorite of Clovis Music Festival organizers in recent years.

A regular performer at the annual event, Vee has entertained fans with his own top ten hits like “Take Good Care Of My Baby” (No. 1 in 1961), “Run To Him” (No. 2, 1961), “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” (No. 3, 1962) and “Devil Or Angel” (No. 6, 1960).

Now, Vee is bringing in a little extra star-power for his Friday night show at Marshall Auditorium.

The festival has been centered at the Clovis Civic Center the last two years and, in fact, Vee’s show on the final night of the 2007 event drew 900 people. Randy Petty, vice-chairman for the music festival, said that was the largest crowd in the history of the event – which started in 1987.

But Petty is thinking that Vee’s show this year could set a new record at Marshall, which seats more than 1,000 people.

“It’s an excellent show. Really, a lot of big name folks,” Petty said. “Moving the venue back to Marshall is more conducive to visibility and sound — and the artists are pleased with that.”

At the Friday night show, Bobby Vee will be the headliner act. But fans are likely to remember hits from the lead-in performers as well.

The Chiffons had a No. 1 hit in 1963 with “He’s So Fine” and two additional top tens later in the decade with “One Fine Day” and “Sweet Talkin’ Guy.”

Chris Montez’ first hit in 1962, “Let’s Dance,” soared all the way to No. 4 on the Billboard pop charts.

And Johnny Preston also had a No. 1 with “Running Bear” in 1960 as well as a Top Ten follow-up (“Cradle Of Love”).

All three will be part of the show Friday night.

“Ticket sales already have proven that the acts are going to draw bigger (crowds),” said Ernie Kos, executive director at the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce. “I think it’s mostly because of the acts. And the fans – I mean, we’ve got people coming from all over the world again. I anticipate we’re going to sell out Friday and Saturday the way things are going.”

The festival includes three nights of performances. Tickets for the shows at Marshall on Thursday, Friday and Saturday cost $20/person.

Vee’s show on Friday is sandwiched by tribute shows.

On Thursday, a Ritchie Valens Tribute show features Ray Anthony and the concert also includes a show by Tommy Allsup and Kevin Montgomery.

Valens died in the 1959 plane accident that killed Buddy Holly and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

Allsup was supposed to be on the plane originally, but flipped a coin – and “lost” — his seat to Valens.

“That’s his legacy, but of course he’s done a whole lot of things since then,” Petty said.

The show Saturday night features tribute artists playing the roles of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison.

“In my opinion, they’re the top tribute guys that can do those artists. The guy (Scot Bruce) who does Elvis, he gives you the chills it’s so eerie,” Petty said. “There’s quite a bit of tribute artists out there, but these are super-neat guys and they just do a fantastic job.

“The likenesses are uncanny,” he added.

Petty said that while many of the Thursday and Saturday acts on stage may be replicas for the originals, the enthusiasm in the audience is real. There are no teenage girls, however, portraying screaming fans from the 1950s.

“The ladies from that era are the ones who do the screaming,” Petty reassured.