“You gotta love it!  Music gets in your blood and you can’t get it out”

Bottom row, seated from left: Stan Steadman, Randy Summers, Larry Hurst;  top row: Ron Moats, Gary Terry (sound), Kenny Bradford, and Danny Austin.

The Lawrence County based band, Mainstreet was the brainchild of Randy Summers of Hatton, who started playing early in his life at the knee of his dad, Junior Summers, who bought him his first guitar in Hartselle. “It was a 1963 Gretsch model 6120, bought for me by my Dad in 1966. I still have it,” he said. 

He started fooling around with his dad’s guitar, which he wasn’t supposed to be messing with, when he was only eight or 10 years old. By the time he got caught, he’d already taught himself some chords. 

This was back in the days before iPods, Knapster and the internet where every song is available 24/7, “All I ever had to listen to was a radio,” he laughed. He said he’d hear a song come on, run and grab his guitar and try to pick and sing what he heard, but when it was over, he couldn’t ‘rewind’ so he just had to be ready when they played the song again. He says he was a big Beatles fan and still is. 

In college at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Randy saved up enough money to purchase his first stereo. His first album was ‘Abbey Road.’  He really honed his craft after that, but it wasn’t until he was out of school with an engineering degree under his belt and a real job and a family that he started thinking about forming a band. 

Summers and his cousin, Larry Hurst, also of Hatton, connected and brought in a drummer Larry knew by the name of Ron Moats. Ron’s brother-in-law, Pat Kelly, was enlisted as keyboard player and guitarist Kenny Bradford, another Hatton native was also brought on board. Both Summers and Hurst agree that Bradford was a talented singer and musician. When Stan Steadman was brought on board as lead singer and acoustic guitarist, the band was complete. 

They needed a place to practice, of course, and found a little shed out behind Hurst’s parent’s home. They cleaned it out, which according to Summers involved removing some animal droppings, and Larry ran an extension cord from the house to the building. 

They began to get some gigs and people loved their country, western, rock sound. It was actually the first time Stanley had ever been onstage in front of a real audience, although he remembers singing harmony on a baseball bus with some of the other UNA players. “I learned to play one of those long harmonicas like Stevie Wonder,” he laughed. “I about drove the guys on the bus crazy playing that thing.” 

All of the guys agree that it was really great fun, they all got along well and Summers says they never had any kind of spat, “Which is extremely unusual for a band,” he chuckled. “Anybody who couldn’t get along with Kenny Bradford, couldn’t get along with anyone.” Regretfully, Bradford, Bobby Thrasher and Danny Austin, who sometimes played with Mainstreet, have since passed away. Tim Hargrove of Hartselle played with them for a while, too. 

They played anywhere they could find at first, but then people started calling and requesting them for functions like office parties, company picnics, private parties and country clubs, the Elk’s Lodge and even a docked paddle wheel riverboat. 

 In the late ‘70s there was not as many really good keyboards like today’s models that practically offer a whole orchestra of sounds, but they solved that by finding the perfect organ, although it was a bit weighty, “Pat Kelly had a full-size console Hammond organ with a big Leslie speaker,” recalled Summers. “We had to lift that thing every time we played, it took four of us. When we played on the riverboat we had to haul it up and down a gang plank, and at other gigs there was always stairs we had to navigate,” he laughed. “It was really heavy, but we liked the way it sounded.” 

Kelly began taking piano lessons in the 5th grade and later began playing drums with some high school friends in a group called “The Last Tyme.” When Pat was in college, he had his own recording studio with some friends and he also played drums and keyboard for recording studios in Muscle Shoals and Nashville. Pat played with Mainstreet from 1977 until 1986. After that, he played with a band called Katy’s Mill for three years. 

With Stan on vocals, Pat on keyboards, Randy and Kenny on lead and rhythm guitars, Larry on bass guitar and Ron on the drums, they became one of the most sought after local bands around North Alabama. One of their most popular gigs was playing the annual New Year’s Eve party at the Joe Wheeler Lodge, which could accommodate the largest crowds they performed for. 

Stan was 26 years old when he started singing with Mainstreet. He always loved it when people danced, but they did have fans who would sit and listen to them play and in some spots there was the occasional fight, “But we just played right on,” he laughed. 

He says they had an eclectic sound, “We could play an hour of anything,” he said. “I would take requests and tell people that we could play what they asked for as long as we already knew it,” he laughed. 

Stan was known for his renditions of Willie, Waylon and Merle songs, and says that he loved the Eagles, but really, anything with good harmony was his strong suit. 

 Ron Moats was the one who could actually read music and had the most stage and music business knowledge when Mainstreet was formed. He’d previously played with bands from Hatton, and all over Lawrence County. Moats was only in the third grade when he was recruited to play in the high school band, “With the big kids,” he laughed.  By the time he was in the fourth grade, he was playing trumpet. His tutor was Carol Royer Brown. Around that time someone thought he needed to take a music test. He scored off the chart with perfect score in pitch, a trait that is highly unusual and much valued in musical circles. By the time he reached the fifth grade, he was playing third string trumpet, French horn and tuba.  

He would remain with the band until he graduated from LCHS in 1965. He took piano lessons for a year while in college and in 1969 he bought his first set of drums and began playing briefly with the Sparkman family and then with Larry Smith, Rod Wallace and Faron Hood in a band called “Third Stone From the Sun.” Later he joined Wilson Hood’s band, “The Playmates,” playing at the Armory on Friday and Saturday nights. By 1972 they had hit the road, moving outside of Lawrence County and gaining experience in doing shows at larger venues. “We played for a music company from Tupelo, Mississippi, doing one or two road shows a month and  we opened at the Grand Ole’ Opry for Ernie Ashworth,” said Moats. “His big hit was, “Talk Back Tremblin’ Lips.”   

The band also played with Bill Anderson, Bill Carlile and a guy by the name of Bill Monroe. Ron played right along with Monroe on banjo and mandolin, even though Monroe hadn’t expected him to be able to keep up. He also played with Little Jimmy Dickens in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Missouri.

“The band was still called the Playmates, and its members were Wilson Hood, Edward Hood, James Lee White, and Dempsey Hood, as lead singer and guitar, and me on drums. This band’s music was what is now called Rockabilly,” said Moats. 

After that ended, Moats lost no time in hooking up with the “Mainstreet,” a move which proved good for another 10 or 12 years.  

During his time in the music business, Ron Moats had the opportunity to play with some of the best musicians around here, including Bobby Thrasher and Jackie Wright, both from Hatton. “Wright could play anything, his playing pulled some drumming skills out of me that I never knew I had. His music was talking to me and mine was answering back,” he said of Wright’s abilities.

“I knew when I was in the third grade and stood on the side of the street watching the band go by in a parade, that’s what I wanted to do in life,” he mused. “My first set of drums once belonged to Pat Boone’s drummer, I got them in the classified ads for $300. That probably started me out on the right path,” Moats concluded.

All of the band members were grown men when Mainstreet was formed and had 9-to-5 jobs and families, but they loved music, and Hurst says that once it’s in your blood you just can’t get it out.  “You gotta love it,” Summers added. 

Summers recalls the days when the band members would work their day jobs on Friday or Saturday, come home, load up the trailer, and later when they could afford it, the van, and drive an hour to unload, set up and do sound checks, grab a bite to eat, maybe, then be back to play from 7:30 to midnight, load everything back up, drive another hour home and after paying for gas, would pocket maybe $40 each. Steadman recalls that in their heyday they charged up to $2,000 per gig, and actually made some money. Hurst agrees with them, though, it was never what it was worth, “But we didn’t do it for the money,” he said. “We did it because we loved it, and it was fun.”

Today Randy Summers is retired from TVA, but still works as a contractor for them, and still plays his guitar at some point each day. He is currently collaboratring with awardwinning LC songwriter, Mike Owens on some songwriting projects.

Larry Hurst had started singing again accompanied by Gail LouAllen at a small church in Landersville. COVID had them on hiatus for the moment. He says that after all the time he spent in the band, only singing in church gives him moments of stage fright, but it’s quickly overcome. He still has the Rickenbacker bass guitar that he started out with.

Stan Steadman occasionally gets together with some of his pickin’ buddies at The Fisherman’s Resort, where he manages the RV park. He says that he still hums in the shower.

Pat is a retired NASA contractor.

Ron is retired from Monsanto. 

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