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The Great Molly Hatchet Give Away, 2001


by Michael Buffalo Smith, 2001

The First Annual "I Love Molly Hatchet" contest wrapped up in Las Vegas, Nevada June 1-3, 2001, with first place winner Larry Simeur and his fiancee Suzanne Arnold joining the band and GRITZ as special guests at the JuneFest, the state's largest outdoor summer festival.

The contest began on February 1st, 2001, as GRITZ asked readers to write and tell us "Why I love Molly Hatchet." Response was overwhelming, within days, over 1,000 entries had been emailed. The final tally was nearly 3000 entries.

Hours of reading by Molly Hatchet and GRITZ Publisher Michael B. Smith narrowed the entries down to the top 500. Then came the top 100. Ultimately, it came down to 20. Every one of them was a winner, but in the end, there was only one first and one second prize. Bobby Ingram, of Molly Hatchet was on the phone with Smith for an hour, and a decision was finally made. Larry Simeur of Illinois would win the trip to spend a weekend with Molly Hatchet. Scott Shields of Virginia would win a new Peavy Predator guitar, autographed by the band. Hatchet flew me out to Vegas from Greenville, South Carolina and Larry and Suzanne from Chicago. We all converged on Vegas on June 1st, where Hatchet's road manager Bob Abrams met us with a limousine.

It seems Abrams had been holding a sign at the airport labeled "Gritz.net", when he was approached by Night Ranger's Brad Gillis, who thought Abrams was his limo driver. Inevitably, he was, as Gillis road to the Sunset Station Hotel and Casino with us.

On the way in, Abrams briefed us on the "battle plan," giving us over laminates - (by the way, Hatchet gave all winners- personalized all-access passes, good for the whole "Kingdom Tour." Larry and Suzanne will be seeing the band again in a couple of weeks! Bonus!) It must be noted here, Bob Abrams is very good at what he does. I observed him with cool confidence, he takes care of Bobby and the rest of the band, and the business end of the show. Get' em Bob!

Bob informed us that Hatchet was playing a pre-jam show at club in the hotel, and that we could check our bags at the desk and just go into the show, which of course, we did. The boys had been playing for about half an hour when we got there. Larry and Suzanne went backstage and I just walked down to the front of the state and stood. Bobby saw me and smiled, reached out and shook hands. Phil was ginning at me and saying "Hi" while the band rocked through "Gator Country." (Note: Tonight's show was for a few hundred in a small club, so the volume was sliced way down - it was a comfortable volume for these old rock and roll ears! The guys played all the old Hatchet hits and a couple of great tunes from the new album- "Angel In Dixie" and "Why won't You Take Me Home." Our contest winners seemed to be enjoying themselves, but then again, so was I!

After the show, we went back to speak to the boys, and I (finally) got to meet the voice on the other end of the line," Stephanie Ingram, Bobby's wife, a very kind and genuinely sweet lady.

Following the usual autograph session, Molly Hatchet treated us all to an unbelievable banquet at Capri's Restaurant in the hotel casino, where we feasted on appetizers of fried Calamari, artichoke dip and stuffed Provolone cheese, as well as a whopper of a house salad, all sorts of fresh baked breads, and a choice of one of three great entrees! (I chose the fillet mignon!) A good time was had by all, and I had an hour of so to pick the brain of Phil McCormack. We talked about everything from his old band The Road Ducks, to the Marshall Tucker Band, music in general and more, and had a few laughs while Phil put a serious hurtin' on the appetizers.

Some time very late on Friday night, we all parted ways for some sleep. The rooms (at least mine) are awesome at the Sunset Station. I felt like I was in the Presidential Suite.

Saturday- we all rode over together to the venue, where we hung out on the bus and in the dressing room until time for Hatchet to play. Excitement reigned supreme, and when Molly Hatchets kicked off their part of the show, the place went wild. (For a review of the show click here.)

Phil and Bobby brought me and Larry and Suzanne on stage and introduced us to the audience, which was another "bonus" our winners hadn't counted on!

For the rest of the day, our winners were provided all areas access and enjoyed the music of Billy Squier, Night Ranger, Styx, Bad Company and Journey. It was a classic rock feast for the senses.

After the festival, the band went back to the hotel, where the band signed the Peavy guitar for our 2nd place winner, Scott Shields, and posed for photos with our first place winners and everyone said there goodbyes at 1 a.m.

I would fly out Sunday at noon. It had been as much fun for me as it had ben for Larry and Suzanne, and as I said goodbye to Bobby Ingram, we were making plans to do it again in 2002.

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