September 1974 -- Windsor Ontario's now defunct GRIFFIN HOLLOW AMPHITHEATRE,
with a stage under the stars, played host to thousands of screaming fans at the
--- ANN ARBOR BLUES & JAZZ FESTIVAL IN EXILE ---
It all happened that first weekend of September 1974. We were honoured with a major music festival that was set up on a makeshift stage with a huge sound system, all surrounded by a big grassy hillside full of appreciative fans. That hill was located right out the back door of St. Clair College in South Windsor, Canada. Featured were world renowned performers…. James Brown, BB King, John Lee Hooker, Junior Walker & The Allstars, Sun Ra & His Arkestra and many more, all for the low price of $8.00 per day.
The high-voltage festival, then in it's 3rd year, was banned by officials in Ann Arbor, Michigan as an abrupt reactionary gesture to keep "undesirables" out of their City. ….I'll admit, the early 1970's were crazy times, but I don't recall seeing any "undesirables" at the festival that weekend, (I did hear that some folks were turned away at the border by Customs that weekend due to the possibility of importing small amounts of illegal substances… Well, they were warned in BIG LETTERS on the event poster "WATCH THE BORDER" …but hey, there's much more to the story, and that will definitely follow.)
Many artists graced the stage throughout the short life of Griffin Hollow…. Chuck Berry, Wolfman Jack, The Bob Seger System, The Guess Who with Domenic Troiano, Harry Chapin, Mahogany Rush, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Max Webster, just to name a few. Fans would come from miles around - Toronto, Hamilton, London, many also crossing the Windsor-Detroit border in from the US to catch the shows. The events were often sponsored by CKLW "The Big 8" Radio, and the St. Clair College Alumni Association, and I do recall one concert event being sponsored by a major candy bar maker. They gave out free concert passes at the gate to anyone that presented the paper wrapper from one of their chocolate bars. That was a bonus, and you know, a lot of us took advantage of that delicious offer!
Story by Scotty Hughes