CoMMA has it together

tamrawilson Uncategorized

It’s not every day you get to see favorite performers in person. Thanks to the City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium (CoMMA), two friends and I drove to Burke County to see The Buckinghams and the Grass Roots recently.

These two groups charted on the Top 40 in the late 60s and early 70s. I remember hearing both on WLS while growing up in Illinois. The Buckinghams were a hot ticket. Their brass sound, in fact, inspired the band Chicago. You know their songs: “Susan,” “Kind of a Drag,” “Don’t You Care,” “Hey Baby They’re Playing Our Song.”  The Grass Roots, founded in Los Angeles, are known for “Midnight Confessions,” “Two Divided by Love,” “Temptation Eyes,” “Live for Today” and more.

These and other retro acts and tribute bands crisscross the nation regularly to entertain Baby Boomers and others who want to relive good times with friends. They fill civic auditoriums, restored theatres, campus venues, fairground arenas and more.

On April 14, three of us stopped for dinner in Morganton, NC. We visited at a gift shop and headed over to the venue. We enjoyed the music, the memories and the chance to meet and greet the performers.

Mark Dawson, the lead singer of the Grass Roots, was in the lobby signing autographs. I’ve listened to his streamed radio show on-line Thursday nights, and have followed him on Facebook and Instagram. It was fun to finally meet him. And there were Carl Giammerese and Nick Fortuna—Buckinghams originals on my old LPs—chatting and signing autographs as well. What fun!

On the way back, we asked ourselves, why can’t we do this in Catawba County? We have two community theatres, a convention center, the Newton Performance Place, SALT Block auditorium, facilities at CVCC and Lenoir-Rhyne—but there is no such entertainment series offered. And so we take our dollars to CoMMA ,  J. E. Broyhill Center in Lenoir, Walker Center in North Wilkesboro or a venue in Charlotte.

Tickets to the CoMMA show cost each of us $52 and change. Dinner that night was a modest $10 and items we bought in the gift shop were a few dollars more. We bought three CDs among us for $60. In all, the night cost the three of us about $250. That’s money that could have been spent (and taxed) here at home.

CarlThere must be a good reason why Catawba County isn’t bringing big-name (or formerly big name) acts to town. I just don’t know what it is.


Carl Giammerese of The Buckinghams and me after the Morganton concert.