This is Chapter 2 of the story of SierraLand. Chapter 1 can be read by clicking the following link: SierraLand Chapter 1
Chatper 2 - Lambs To The Slaughter-1993
After that first party at Tom Pickles home (Chapter 1), we spent a year or so fiddling with ideas - a PBS Special that never happened, the Ice House Concert, a trip to Branson to have a look-see. We needed some direction and I knew someone who could give us some help. As it turned out, we needed more help than anyone who was less than JP Morgan couldn’t give us.
I had been friends for years with Denny B., an attorney who had been to high-school with Nick, and had been a folk-singer once himself. Denny had moved from practicing law to artist management and had managed some heavyweights like Paul Williams, Lee Majors, and The Monkees. He had been to the big time and back and he had a clear picture of the concert circuit and he knew that our only chance was to find a spot like Branson, and see if we couldn’t get the folks to come to us instead of the other way around.
Oakhurst, California was finally chosen when McGuire suggested it. Barry lived in Fresno, and Oakhurst was just up the hill nestled against Yosemite. Thousands of tourists passed that way on their way to the park, just like they poured through Branson on their way to the Ozarks.
Denny helped us put together a deal that included all of us as shareholders. We went public. Can you believe it? We couldn't.
In the past, we all had been hired hands and that’s what made the Oakhurst venture special. No more working for someone else. We were finally in it for ourselves. SierraLand was the first and last time that any of us felt like we owned a piece of the rock. The Gathering of Minstrels was ours, not Randy’s, not a management company’s, but ours. We were finally capitalists!
Heads high, a small group of us went up the hill to Oakhurst, bought a piece of ground, put up a tent (one thousand seats, yikes!), lighting system, sound system, handicapped accessible everything, food concessions, gift concessions, rides, you name it.
In short, we started building friggin’ Disneyland.
“You couldn’t have started smaller?” (my father’s voice from the other side). Oy Vay! (folk expression), said the voice.
We aimed our rocket at the moon. We hit our collective foot. My toes still hurt. Some of us invested more than we should have. I was one of them. I’ll let the others talk about it on their own dime.
But you know what? What we did was absolutely amazing and wondrous. That’s what. Was it stupid? Probably, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
(next chapter coming soon)... Opening day...."Houston, we've got trouble"