In 1894 (nine years after Payson’s inaugural rodeo), President Grover Cleveland signed into law the bill that made Labor Day, the first Monday in September, an official national holiday. This day off from work was the creation of the labor movement of the time, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.
Now, it constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, growth and well-being of our country.
And how will many area residents spend this day off from work? Well, I’m sure many will find that there is no better way to relax on this unofficial last day of summer than to have a picnic.
Some will go no further than their back yards, fire up the grill and have a small family meal. Others will pack up their picnic baskets, gather together their family and friends and head on over to Rumsey or Green Valley Park to share the day with other local residents and out-of-town visitors. Still others will enjoy an intimate destination picnic at the Tonto Natural Bridge, along the East Verde River or on top of the Rim.
Seriously, is there a better way to enjoy a day off from work than to spend it outdoors in our gorgeous Rim Country, armed with a picnic basket loaded with potato salad, baked beans and a bucket of chicken?
This week’s question
Can you name the late-1960s, early-1970s R&B group that scored a big hit with their 1968 release “Stone Soul Picnic?”
This quintet’s unique sound lay somewhere between smooth, elegant soul and straightforward adult-oriented pop, often with a distinct flower-power vibe. Although they appealed more to mainstream listeners than to a hip, hardcore R&B audience, they had a definite ear for contemporary trends.
In 1967, the L.A.-based group signed with singer Johnny Rivers, who had set up his own label, Soul City. The original three male trio had just recently added female singers Marilyn McCoo and Florence LaRue; both were ex-beauty pageant winners who had attended college in the L.A. area (McCoo and group member Billy Davis would marry in 1969).
The group’s breakthrough hit, 1967’s “Up, Up and Away” was an ode to the pleasures of flying in a beautiful balloon. The song became the group’s first Top 10 hit, peaking at No. 7, and went on to sweep the Grammy Awards, taking home five total (including Record of the Year and Song of the Year).
The quintet’s success peaked in 1969 when the group attended a Broadway production of “Hair,” and immediately decided to cut a medley of two songs from the show. “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” was a monster hit and grew to become one of the era’s defining pop records.
Other top selling song’s for this popular group included the Top 10 hits “Wedding Bell Blues,” “One Less Bell to Answer” and “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All.”
Is this week’s “Stone Soul Picnic” group A) The 5th Estate; B) The Five Stairsteps; C) The 5th Dimension; or D) The Five Strings?
Be caller number six and have the correct answer and you’ll win a CD of your favorite artist or genre of music.
Last week’s question
Last week’s music trivia question asked if you could name the country music singer whose most recent release, “Pirate Flag,” debuted on the Billboard Hot Country Hits in February of this year.
This singer-songwriter-guitarist was born in Knoxville, Tenn. in 1968 and raised in the nearby small town of Luttrell.
He debuted on the country music charts in December of 1993 with his hit “Whatever it Takes” and now has 15 albums to his credit, 14 of which have been certified gold or higher. Some of his top songs are “The Good Stuff,” “There Goes My Life” and his 2004 duet with Uncle Kracker, “When the Sun Goes Down.” He has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
The choices were A) Tim McGraw; B) Dierks Bentley; C) Luke Bryan; and D) Kenny Chesney.
The correct answer was Kenny Chesney. McGraw, Bentley and Bryan are each contemporary country music artists, as well, debuting in 1992, 2003 and 2009, respectively. They all have produced multiple No. 1 hits, with Bryan’s latest release, “That’s My Kind of Night,” reaching No. 1 just last week on Billboard’s Hot Country chart.
A couple of final notes
Pictures that I’ve recently added to my Web site are from the Aug. 17 wedding of Matt LaFon and Deedra Wayland, both 2011 graduates of Payson High School. Matt’s parents are Jon and Amber LaFon of Bagdad, Ariz. and Deedra’s parents are Shelly Wayland and Scott Wayland of Payson.
With 100 of their family members and friends present, the young couple said their vows and celebrated their reception at the Ponderosa Bible Church. After a getaway honeymoon to the foothills of the Rim, Matt and Deedra have begun their new life together in the Valley.
And lastly, a very special birthday greeting goes out to my good friend Harry Sarre, who becomes a spry 101 years-young this coming Wednesday, Sept. 4. I know many readers know Harry and wonder how he’s doing.
I’m happy to say that Harry is doing very well, still lives the summers in Payson and the winters in Apache Junction, still drives his hot red Mustang convertible, still does his walking exercise at both parks in town — and still enjoys “Judge Judy” in the afternoon.
Have a great week!
DJ Craig, (928) 468-1482