Josh (desh) wrote,
Josh
desh

  • Music:

Once upon a Fest...

Yes, once upon a Fest, I had a spectacular time. Even though it rained. I was very excited about the weather forecast going in, and it was a beautiful Prefest week, but even the best forecasters can't say for sure what things would be like a weekend in advance, and they were wrong about that part. Off-and-on rain all weekend. But even though I've been saying for years that I wouldn't be able to stand a rainy Fest, and I'd rather stay than leave, it really wasn't so bad. There was shelter to be found. It never rains for that long without breaks in Philly in the summer. And even though people laugh that I spent $100 for a tiny EMS tent that I could've gotten for a third of that at Target, you're really paying for waterproofness, and you really do get what you pay for. So in spite of the weather, I had a great time. (Didn't take pictures, though. Oh well.)

Of course, Fest is about the people more than the concerts. You knew I was going to say that, and it becomes more true for me every year. pkzimmer's been saying that for years, since he doesn't even like folk music. He goes for the company, the volunteer work, and the campgrounds. Spending quality time with him and ladykat81 was really important to me, now that they're not in Philly anymore, and it was wonderful to have a couple of occasions to do that. Also, I had a really enlightening conversation with Barry. I totally bonded with Eitan over Jewish stuff and just realizing in general how much like intangiblehugs he is. I had a fun night wandering around the campgrounds with Jen. I talked nonstop with Nova for most of the one day she was there. It was great to spend some time with Josh and sockrocker101 and other people on my committee, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that (at least!) two of them have LiveJournals. And then there's spacialk, and Anat, and Judy, and reconnecting with below_the_belt, and, and, and...

And this doesn't even include most of the people in my campsite. gutwoman, Katie, Briana, the Jeep Estate, the K-C family, djembe_boy, jdcohen, Dusty, Valerie, Mike, John, John's crappy canopy, John's good canopy, Jason, Farrah, Julie, and Ron are the best people to come home to. They're hilarious, they're fun, they're low-key (at least compared to some of the flamboyancies that happen at fest; I doubt Mike meets most people's definitions of low-key), they understand me, and I hope we all can camp together again next year. Under a bigger canopy.

I mean, yeah, there was music too. As always, the concerts came as a bit of a shock after 4 solid days of just hanging out and relaxing. I didn't get to see quite as much music as usual, due to the rain and my volunteer schedule. But there were some acts of note, even though the slate as a whole was rather lacking in well-known names. Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams is a softer Metallica with accordion and mandolin, and while Max's recommendation of them was sound, I have to admit I bought the CD as much for the band name as for the music. Wolfstone was the best Celtic act of the year, and their performance was the first time I ever heard bagpipes that weren't annoying and weren't playing Amazing Grace or Scotland The Brave. Tempest still has the best stage presence around, but their music hasn't excited me since the original members started leaving. I don't know how Airdance was to contra-dance to, but as a concert performer, they were better than Wild Asparagus was last year. Modern Man was hilarious, and since they're all old and dirty, they seem less likely to break up take an extended hiatus than Moxy or DVN. (Not that they're as good as Moxy or DVN, but I'll take what I can get at this point.) Also of note were Footworks, the Glengarry Bhoys, Artisan (in apparently their last American performance ever), The Avett Brothers, and a couple of blues performers. I wouldn't go out of my way to see any of this last group in concert, but I wouldn't mind seeing them again either.

Oh, yeah, and Arlo. The voice of a generation. And damn hilarious. Seriously, after he told one story about an airplane trip several decades ago, he had the entire audience in stitches, and I wouldn't have minded if he'd just talked rather than sang for the rest of his show. But sing he did. "City of New Orleans" is still his best song (not counting, you know, the one where he talks more than sings), and even though it's not actually about the Louisiana city, it still seemed more poignant this time than when I last saw him 4 years ago. It's always fun to hear him talk about "the song my dad taught me", and go into "This Land Is Your Land". In the middle of it, he made a great point: If we all lived in a perfect world, with no poverty and hunger and war, we'd have to go a long way to contribute something worthwhile. But in a screwed up world, like this one here, it's not hard to do something that has a real impact; so in a sense we're lucky. And then he closed with an awesome jam with The Mammals (also an enjoyable act on their own, by the way, but hard to pay attention to with Arlo on the bill next) that had everyone humming back to the campgrounds.

And even though I was expecting Alice's Restaurant, since I hear he's been playing it all tour, it had me crying a bit to hear it live, okay? (And, for the record, Alice's Restaurant clocked in at 17:35. This makes it about 30 seconds shorter than the album version, because everything after the 18:06 mark of that one is applause.)

Then it was time to go back, pack up, hug people goodbye (more and longer hugs than last year, as always), and head out to drive home in a dense fog. Until next time. Only 50 weeks away, too.

& so on, & so on...

</summer>
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