Too bad, Bad Sneakers told

Jane Brooks, The News Journal, Wilmington, Del., Aug. 7, 1984

SMYRNA – Cautious Smyrna council members Monday night turned down a rock group’s offer to perform a free concert in the town park.

Perhaps it was the name – “Bad Sneakers” – that turned off the mostly middle-age council. “I guess you could say we’re a bunch of old fogies when it comes to rock music,” Acting Mayor Guy M. Edmondson conceded later. “If there’s a way to avoid that sort of thing we will.”

The Newark-based rock group had offered to perform free if the town would supply the location and sound stage. A mobile stage could be rented from the state for between $150 and $250, the council was told.

But after checking with police Chief Donald McGinty on the need for overtime police officers, Edmondson estimated that it would cost the town “at least $1,000” to foot the bill for the free Bad Sneakers concert. McGinty would not comment on problems the event might present his department.

Councilman James S. Mood noted that the only thing he had ever got for free was advice, “and sometimes that was bad.”

Mayor George C. Wright Sr., out of town on vacation this week, had recommended by letter that the council accept the group’s offer to perform at the town park on Aug. 21 as summer entertainment for the town’s young people.

Councilman William S. Gibbons suggested the council delay any action until members got a look at the group in a face-to-face meeting.

There also was discussion on the placement of speakers to direct the music away from populated areas of town and of outsiders who might be attracted to the performance.

Council members took no formal vote on the proposal, leaving the door open to accepting a future offer from the group.

Bad Sneakers, a well known rock group in New Castle County, has released two albums entitled “Sneak Attack” and “Beat the Meter.” The group’s music also is played in skating rinks throughout the state.

Councilwoman Patricia A. Stombaugh said she would support the mayor in promoting the concert, particularly if it could be staged at the high school athletic field where there is more room for crowd and traffic control.

“I think if different groups in the community work together, this could be a good thing for our young people,” she said. “There really isn’t much to do here in the summer.”

Bad Sneakers: Fine, We’ll Go Where We’re Wanted

August 8, 1984
Bad Sneakers/Now & Then Music
(302) 368-5108

Following the Smyrna town council’s decision Monday not to accept Bad Sneakers’ offer of a free youth concert, the band plans instead to appear Aug. 29 at Dover’s Blue Hen Mall in a free concert sponsored by the Dover Department of Parks and Recreation.

Accompanying the concert will be the department’s second annual “Rotten Sneakers” contest. Both events are free and open to the public. The concert begins at 6:30, and Bad Sneakers is donating copies of their new album “Beat The Meter” as door prizes.

While looking forward to the Dover festivities, Bad Sneakers expresses regrets to Smyrna’s music lovers and surprised dismay at the action of their city fathers. The band’s last contact with the council was in late July, when Mayor George C. Wright Sr. confirmed the Aug. 21 concert date. The council has not yet informed Bad Sneakers of their decision or the reasons for it.

Despite a heavy touring and recording schedule – 220 nights a year, in venues from New York City to Washington, D. C. – the band finds time for community-oriented free concerts in their home state.

Most recently, Bad Sneakers appeared without incident before hundreds of young people at New Castle’s Surratte Park, in a concert sponsored by the New Castle County Department of Parks and Recreation. The audience arrived in buses provided by the county, and the band donated their services.

Plans for future benefits include a concert for emotionally handicapped children at New Castle’s Terry Center, sponsored by the state Department of Services to Children, Youth and Their Families; and an appearance at a Delaware League of Women Voters registration rally, following the success of 1982’s DLWV rally which had the band in concert at Wilmington’s Rodney Square.

Bad Sneakers takes issue with the Smyrna council’s decision. In the band’s experience, the sponsors of an event on this scale need not invest heavily in police security lest the concert erupt in disorder.

For instance, at the Surratte Park concert, no police at all were present – and no disturbance took place. In fact, not a single Bad Sneakers concert in the band’s five years has been marred by violence or undesirable “outsiders.”

Had the council shared their concerns with the band, Smyrna’s young people may have had an evening of entertainment in a town where – in the words of Councilwoman Patricia A. Stombaugh – “there isn’t much to do in the summer.”

Bad Sneakers appreciates that the Smyrna council has taken no formal vote on their decision, leaving the possibility of negotiation. In fact, the date that the band reserved for the town is still open.

However, following the suggestion of Councilman William S. Gibbons, Bad Sneakers may delay any decision until group members get a look at the council in a face-to-face meeting.