John Nelson discusses successful Music Hall of Fame ‘Concert Flashback’ event

By Elijah Newell, RealWV

The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame (WVMHOF), on Friday, presented a Concert Flashback event at their museum in the Charleston Town Center. Hosted by former Budget Tapes and Records employee and local music enthusiast John Nelson and musician and journalist Terry Lowry, the event featured an open discussion of the famed concerts held at the Charleston Civic Center during the 1960s and 1970s. 

On Saturday, both Nelson and Lowry, as well as WVMHOF founder Michael Lipton, spoke with RealWV about the event, and described what made West Virginia’s capital city particularly musically-enjoyable during this period.

“Back in the ’60s and ’70s, Charleston had an unusually vibrant music scene – both in terms of local groups that flourished throughout the valley and a wide variety of national groups that performed at venues around the city,” Lipton said. “Charleston was a convenient stop, but we also had some very active and creative local promoters, like the Lachinksy Brothers. I caught the latter end of that era, seeing groups like Parliament-Funkadelic – which happened to include a pair of West Virginia natives – and Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart.”

Nelson said he had been in the music retail business in Charleston for around 50 years. He started attending rock concerts and live music when he was 16, and ever since then, he has supported local music, sold tickets, and promoted concerts in the Charleston area. After retiring from Budget Tapes and Records earlier this year, Nelson went to work as an ambassador for the West Virginia Museum of Music, a position he currently holds today.

“Just being blessed to still be in the game after all these years on the local music scene – just a long time man, a long time locally – it feels good,” Nelson said. 

Nelson also spoke about the man he spent Friday evening discussing music with, Terry Lowry.

Nelson described Lowry as an accomplished musician and journalist who had been in the Charleston area for many years. He worked in Charleston during the 60s and 70s heyday of music and personally welcomed both Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin at their first performances in the city. He wrote about music in the area in a weekly column and became a historian for the state of WV at the Cultural Center. He played in multiple local bands and wrote over ten books.

“He’s 75-plus-years-old, and he needed to get out and tell his stories again,” Nelson said. “He’s still playing gigs, and he came out and told some of his stories, so that’s what it was.” 

Nelson said that the event went well for the WVMHOF, adding, “We had decent attendance. Lotta people I knew, a few I didn’t, they considered it a good crowd, at least 50 people intimately, so anybody that came out and hears this, thank you so much.” 

Nelson believes it’s important for the WVMHOF to hold events like the Charleston Flashback, noting that they help provide education to people who love history and foster pride in West Virginia culture. Nelson said that this discussion was one of the first after-hours events the WVMHOF had done, and he hopes the organization holds more in the future. 

“Hopefully we can have a for more after hours events, we’ll see,” Nelson added. “This one went good, and I think that happens, so hopefully we can have something maybe a little after hours.”

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