Starship draws around 2,000 fans to Curry Events Center

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Stephanie Calvert joins Mickey Thomas as Starship plays Thursday night at the Curry County Events Center. The group, which has toured with Thomas since 1990, was the headline event at the evening’s performances of the Clovis Music Festival.

Kevin Wilson

The Clovis sound came out in full force Thursday night, as Starship took flight.

From Jefferson Airplane to Jefferson Starship to Starship to its current incarnation as Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas, the historic tunes of the group resonated throughout the Curry County Events Center Thursday, the opening night of the three-night Clovis Music Festival.

An estimated 2,000 came out to see the headline act perform, “We Built This City (on Rock n’ Roll)” and other hits.

The group was preceded by a mix of local and touring bands that recreated the sound of Buddy Holly — who recorded many hits at the city’s Norman Petty Studios.

“Man, it’s like walking back in time,” said Kevin Montgomery of the Norman and Vi Petty Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum. “It’s a super place. I’m so honored to be invited back here with my buddy, Johnny Rogers.”

Montgomery is son of Bob Montgomery, who formed the Buddy and Bob team with Holly in Lubbock.

Rogers, meanwhile, donned Holly’s classic rimmed glasses and haircut as he shouted, “Y’all ready for a little Buddy Holly?”

Maryline Bigham certainly was, as she clapped and sang along with every song from the pair, and kept her enthusiasm right through the local Blackwater Band, which boasted a pair of members who recorded with Petty.

“Keeping this music alive, I think, is important,” said Bigham, whose husband David was part of The Roses, a group that sang with Holly and the Crickets. “We’re letting the kids know where all of this generated.”

Bigham has gone to the festival since 1990. Getting Starship, however, was an attempt to bring in newer fans.

Though “We Built This City” was the unifying theme of the festival, ballads like “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” also played throughout the childhoods of some of the festival’s younger fans.

“Starship’s a band I’ve heard of,” said Tina Young, taking advantage of front-row seating from company tickets at her employer, Southwest Cheese, “and I don’t have chances to catch a free show very often.”

Joining her was Chad Nance, who said he looked forward to the show. He was dismayed that the band didn’t include original members like Grace Slick, but conceded that’s the nature of the business with decades-old musical acts.

The festival resumes Friday and Saturday, with 7 p.m. shows. Friday’s acts include Bobby Vee, Will Banister and the Mulberry Band, Brian Hyland and Bobby Richards’ Coasters. Saturday features an “originators of rock ‘n’ roll show” with Rogers, Montgomery and others.