Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Festivals

Spent a week at Clifftop, West Virginia, camping out in the woods with over 4,000 people. Every night I was up until the wee hours playing and listening to music. The soundscapes were so vast and varied and just amazing to walk around and listen to all that was going on. They call it the Appalachian String-band festival, but the variety of old time music is greater than probably any other festival. From the most well known Round Peak style, to plenty of West Virginia and Kentucky stuff, to Missouri fiddlers, Cajun music, jug band musician complete with brass sections, harps, dulcimers, and all means of acoustic instruments I can't name. I met a woman from Russia who came to the festival, and several others from Europe. The interesting, and sometimes perturbing phenomenon of Clifftop is that the contest winners are by and large not from anywhere near the sources of the tunes they play. I try not to be too much a purist about that kind of stuff, but I also don't take it fore-granted. 

The concentration of musical talent is probably one of the greatest that ever takes place. I like to imagine some famous musical star finding their way down to "Hobo Holler", and being blow away by the quality of actual, organic talent--mostly from people who it wouldn't even occur to to professionalize their music. 

I managed to spending quality time with friends I only see occasionally, share many wonderful meals of homecooked and homegrown food, enjoy those magical warm nights of summer, get in a hike, and play music galore--and still somehow not play music with all the people I wish I had.  I learned a few new tunes, including a couple in the key of C. Sang a few songs, but in the presence of such great company, some of my bashfulness about singing returned. Hiked to the cascades for the first time. Competed in the band contest and flat-footing contest with an owl mask on. Square danced to my hearts content. 

I can wax on….but I'll stop there.

I also spent the past week in the upper mid-west, playing a few shows in Minnesota, at a festival near St. Cloud, where the clouds were appropriately breathtaking. We also went to Minneapolis for a night, which I found nice enough to warrant a return trip someday.  Now I am chilling out in Wisconsin for a week with my brother, before heading east to another state I've never been to: Michigan. 


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