Clovis Music Festival kicking off this week

Courtesy photo Starship featuring Mickey Thomas will perform Thursday at the Curry County Events Center during the Clovis Music Festival.

Liliana Castillo

The 2010 Clovis Music Festival is just around the corner.

The four-day musical event will take place 7 p.m. nightly at the Curry County Events Center, beginning Thursday with Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, Blackwater Band, Kevin Montgomery and Johnny Rogers.

The festival is an annual celebration of Clovis’ musical history created by Norman Petty and Buddy Holly.

Thomas said New Mexico is one of his favorite places to visit.

“I’m a fan of playing little festivals,” he said. “There’s usually a really interesting cross section in the audience. It’s not unusual to see three generation of fans at a music festival.”

Thomas was inspired to start his own band at age 15 when he went to see the Beatles in concert.

“It was just like everything you see of the concerts. Pandemonium. Girls screaming. You couldn’t hear too much musically, but you could feel the energy, the chaos. It was something you might never see again,” Thomas said.

Thomas was asked to join Starship after the departure of Marty Balin and Grace Slick in 1979. Thomas said it was difficult to take over in their stead.

“To cope with that and to make the best of the situation, we sort of looked at it as starting a new band. That time, that feeling, was the inspiration for the name of our first album, ‘Freedom at Point Zero,’” he said.

Slick rejoined in 1981, and Thomas said the pair had a good relationship.

“It was always daunting, as a male vocalist, standing next to the Elizabeth Taylor of rock,” Thomas said. “We had great times together.”

Thomas said he attempted to emulate soul singers from the 1960s like Ottis Redding and Aretha Franklin. He said he learned to sing from gospel singer Gabriel Gideon.

Randy Petty, festival chair, said Starship is one of the largest bands of the time that the festival has drawn to Clovis.

“We are drawing in a younger generation,” Petty said.

Petty said drawing in a younger audience has been a goal for festival organizers for the last few years.

“We also want to create some entertainment opportunities for the city of Clovis in the process,” he said.

Cannon Idol winner Airman 1st Class Jennifer Bodie will also perform at the festival.

“The festival is something of interest to the town so I’m happy to be a part of it,” Bodie said. “I’m very excited.”

Bodie, who overcame shyness to perform at the singing contest in July, said her family is coming from Sierra Vista, Ariz., to support her.

“I’ll be looking for them in the crowd,” Bodie said.

Bodie said she will sing the national anthem on Saturday in honor of Sept. 11, 2001, and will open for Buddy Holly impersonator Johnny Rogers.

The Clovis Music Festival also includes tours of the Norman Petty Studios and Norman and Vi Petty Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum, “Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story” musical, Rockin’ Motorcycle Rally and Desert Cruzers Hillcrest Car Show.

Petty said the Clovis Community College Cultural Arts Series has been trying to get to the Holly musical to Clovis.

“The play shows the direct connection to Buddy Holly and Norman Petty and Clovis,” he said. “It received rave review in England. It’s a pretty big deal to have in Clovis. Tying it to the festival is a plus.”

The performance is scheduled for Wednesday night and tickets for the musical and the concerts are separate.