Camps are divided into practical areas to allow for difference in lifestyle: quiet camp, RV camp, family camp, walk-in camp, and jammin’ camp. Walking through the camps among the trees would bring you to the sweat lodge, the clothing optional beach along the creek, the kids’ zone with crafts, sing-alongs, and a hill covered in straw for cardboard sledding. The best were the small groups of musicians, huddled together, tuning and practicing and jamming on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, or washtub.
At this little festival of 3000 people in the heart of
Walking into the music bowl, you pass the “smoking area.” Being
I have to mention the showers, because they were incredible. Clean, with abundant warm water, batik curtains divided the stalls. The center divider between the men and women’s sides was topped with metal sculptures, twinkling Christmas lights and masses of plants, lily of
We got to see Richie Havens, whom you may remember from
I listened to Utah Phillip, an anointed Grand Duke of the Traveling Nation, sing songs and tell stories of riding the rails and spending time in tramp camps across the country. They had a hobo jungle campfire set up for late night stories, but we never made it there.
Most of the music was folk style; some of it we loved, some of it not so much. We went specifically to see our hero, Dave Alvin. Also, Guy Davis impressed us over and over again. Marcia Ball rocked the house on Friday night. David Bromberg's Saturday night finale was kick ass. Ramblin' Jack Eliott showed up unscheduled, just 'cause it's soooo cool there.
But, if you haven’t yet been introduced to this new wave of bluegrass music coming around, you need to open your ears. Bands like The Mammals and Devil Makes Three are young, hip, intelligent, humorous, and immensely musically talented. They start wailing on those fiddles and mandolins; the crowd goes crazy, twirling, stomping, and kicking up the dust. As Guy Davis said, it has high BSQ—Butt Shaking Quotient!
If you are one of the strange people that this appeals to, you have a few chances to go check out some real fine music and savor that festival lifestyle. High Sierra Music Festival is this week in Quincy, CA and a very small version is happening July 14 at the Solar Cook-off in Taylorsville, CA. One of the biggest festivals is Strawberry Music Festival, near Yosemite on Memorial Weekend and now Labor Day Weekend too. And of course, there is always Kate Wolf Festival next year too.
A note on the photos: If you see yourself in the pictures, please know that I took the photos with only the best of intentions and respect. I don't know your name to credit you, but thank you for understanding.