| July/August 1972

Dayton Daily News & Radio's 'Joe's Journal'

He was the most apologetic, unobtrusive little fellow on the grounds.

'Would it be all right if I set up my equipment here? If not, I can move elsewhere, or I don't even need to set up at all if I might be in the way,' came the humble pleas from the timid one. Indeed, had someone sneezed or coughed in the wrong direction, and at just that very moment, the whole grand extravaganza might suddenly have vanished--man, equipment and all--leaving us the poorer by far.

But no one coughed or sneezed at that particular instant, and the little fellow was busy unpacking his small traveller's valise out of which came a common housewife's cannister vacuum sweeper, a yardage of flexible hosing and a diminutive keyboard that looked like a little tot's toy piano.

'Borrowing' a folding chair that someone had just got up from, lighting a cigarette and placing his left hand on the tiny keyboard, during the moments that followed we weren't sure whether the back end of our red farm truck was a circus calliope on parade or The Robert E. Lee steaming down the Mississippi.

But we were hearing some of the sweetest steam calliope ditties of the old-time riverboat and circus varieties wafting from the little brass whistles protruding up from the tiny keyboard. Using the tail-gate of our farm truck for a stage and the truck bed as acoustics for his concert hall, Benny Powell was making his debut performance on the little air-calliope he had just finished and fetched to the Blue Grass Steam and Gas Show at Harrodsburg Fairgrounds, Kentucky. Like any first-nighter appearance, Benny was bowing graciously after each number to the cheering crowd gathered around his 'open-air' concert hall--his fingers typically a bit nervous, but enjoying every moment of his initial triumph in the performing musical arts. The applause called for encore after encore--the smiling, bowing Benny playing on and on throughout the rest of the day.


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