CLEVELAND - The level of fanaticism was incredible.
One guy drove 1,208 miles from Dallas to be there, and several others came from out of state.
Some stood outside pleading for tickets. At least a half dozen people came up to the camera man from a Cleveland television station sitting next to me and inquired about whether they could get a tape of anything he shot. And most offered audio and video tapes from their voluminous collections in trade as an enticement.
I've seen this kind of devotion for rock stars before, but this was a local band whose brief career flamed out 25 years ago and only had limited commercial success at its peak.
But then the members of Glass Harp started to play, and it all made sense. Hearing Phil Keaggy, guitar and vocals; Daniel Pecchio, bass and vocals; and John Sferra (of Howland), drums and vocals, play together is proof that anyone who thinks the fanaticism is misplaced has never seen the band live.
The trio, which got its start in the late '60s in Youngstown, is an incredible band, even with the rust and rough spots that come from playing together only a handful of times since Watergate.
Saturday's reunion came at the Rock Hall of Fame, where the group is prominently featured in the exhibit "My Town," a salute to northeast Ohio's musical history.
The evening started with an informal interview and audience Q&A conducted by Jim Henke, chief curator at the museum and a Cleveland native who said Glass Harp was his favorite local band of the era. The three shared amazing and often hilarious stories of the thriving area music scene in the late '60s.
The band played a regular Wednesday night slot at JB's in Kent. The band that held the slot before them was the James Gang, and the band that followed them was the Raspberries. Keaggy said Joe Walsh once came to Youngstown to audition for one of his pre-Glass Harp bands, and Eric Carmen called him just before Glass Harp started and asked if he was interested in starting a Beatles-influenced group.
Glass Harp always was known for its ability to improvise, and Keaggy said "We certainly knew how to jam. In those days, we made up songs as an excuse to jam."
And Sferra joked that many of those JB's shows were, "Three sets and three songs."