Wednesday, June 23, 2004

A Clearwater Photojournal: Part Deux 

(If you've not yet read it, start with A Clearwater Photojournal, Part 1. It includes many cute pictures of Willow, as well as several good pix of Dar.)


The problem with the graveyard shift is predominantly physical, not mental; in the midst of folk festivaling, the sundrenched mellowness one sinks into feels a lot like tired, so the distinction isn't felt. What doesn't recover after a cumulative six hours in two nights is the blisters and cranky calves from stompdancing to Entrain, but mostly from walking the grounds up and down, especially that foot-tired which stems from the tense walk of the unsurefooted going up dark dirtpath hills.

Which is to say, waking up at 3:30 am for my second and final shift in the communications tent was -- pardon the expression -- a bitch.

Happily, however, there was much to keep the mind occupied and off the feet.

Chelsea and Margot, cool college students running simultaneous shifts with us, albeit in Peacekeeping. They had little to patrol but skunks, so were happy to stop in occasionally, bringing me smiles and fresh coffee throughout the night as each was brewed. I was happy to offer my by-the-stage blanket both days for them and two friends, given how little Willow wanted to sit there; it was nice, after a while, to find familiar folk by the folk whenever I returned.

Joel and I at "work", circa sunrise Sunday. We sent the other two folks on our shift back to tentland when it became clear that, like the night previous, no calls were likely to come in, and stayed up all night talking C-changes, mediation, Tufte, Ong, and Postman until the morning light shone and the Java Hut began serving Chai (for Joel) and double-shot Lattes (for me).

Darcie showed up at eight for her own shift, and Willow and I drove offgrounds for a Father's Day diner breakfast, taking a chance on beating the festival traffic back into the gates. After eggs, bacon, orange juice and crayons, we headed back to the camper, trading car for wagon and cool morning clothes for matching dragonfly teeshirts bought yesterday as my Father's Day gift before heading back down the hill for more seed table and Family Stage area goodness.

Willow was especially struck by the juggling station, where once could try out and purchase trick-stick-and-ball games from devil's sticks to juggling balls. The Zucchini Brothers played kid-versions of pop tunes in the nearby tent, providing a rhythm for plaything pacekeeping. As you can see from the pictures, she didn't exactly know how to use most of them right, but she seemed happy so I let her go to it.

Darcie's shift ended at noon, and with it, our work for the weekend. Ellis Paul was playing on the main stage, but I've never really recovered from his ill-treatment that time he came and performed at our school, and my feet were killing me in socks and shoes. I stayed for a single song, and went up the hill after Willow and Darcie to switch over to sandals.

Darcie and Willow decided to stay up at the camper for a while and rest, giving me some solo time. I walked down the hill with Jay, a man-saying hippie from across the way, hit Alex up for some free uberstrong peppermint iced tea and bought a pulled pork sandwich, and we headed over to the stage to sit and eat in the veryhot sun.

Patty Larkin had already finished her set on the main stage, and Tommy Sands hadn't shown; onstage drummer Sam Zucchini and some woman who seemed a bit giddily surprised to be on the main stage played peaceful lunchtime music to an essentially empty hilltop, though Sam's bodhran playing was superb.

After our last swallows, Jay and I decided to head over to the riverfront stage to see where everyone was.

Found them! So many thousands teemed between us and the Hudson River stage, designed to be a secondary intimate venue, that we could barely see what was going on in the darkened tentshade, but can you blame them? The workshop performers for that hour included Holly Near, Toshi Reagon, Dar Williams, Guy Davis, and SONia, with Pete Seeger to boot, all singing whqat the program called Songs of Peace and Justice. Given the eco-political festival theme, it seems a wonder that the organizers didn't put this one on the main stage instead. I took my pix, sang along with Pete and Toshi for a quickie, and got out of there quick for the CD rack and the Dance stage for the Entrain set.

Passed one of the ubiquitous organic juice-and-water stands on my way. In addition to juice-maker Santa Cruz Organic, fest sponsors included organic dairy Stonyfield Farm, which gave away free milk and yogurt throughout the two-day event, Nature's Gate soaps and lotions, which gave out temporary henna-like tattoos, and several other thematically consistent companies and organizations.

Got to the Dance Tent early, so I checked out the green-energy solar/wind truck while waiting for the band to start. All power at the festival, from amps to lamps, was provided by alternative sources, mostly solar panels and truck/batteries like this one.

I've become a real fan of Martha's Vineyard-based Entrain, the band that played the two-hour volunteer party the previous night, and the sonic delight that brought Willow such dancing glee. This was their final festival set, so I took off my shoes again and stomped for a few. By the time I left, that horn section was the only thing funkier than my feet.

Then back to the main stage for Holly Near, who was better than I expected.

And back again to the family stage for a kids set by Dan Zanes, cool kiddie-musician who I'd been waiting to hear all weekend. He didn't play Wonderwheel like I had hoped, but his new stuff was fun and light, and it was great to be surounded by small people enjoying themselves -- kind of like an outdoor Raffi or Wiggles concert would be if all the kids were raised right. Zanes looks a bit like my brother, doesn't he?

The woman on the left in the second pic above is the stage interpreter for Zanes' set. As at Falcon Ridge, every musician's set is interpreted, actively and fluidly, by an ASL interpreter; the interpreters do beautiful work, and are treated as artists in their own right, as they should be. The kids in the last pic are Zanes' daughter and (I think) his nephew; the particlar style of family music Zanes advocates for and performs really does require, as he says, a family band, and I agree with him that everyone should have one. He recommends the Uke as a starter string, which seems like a good one for Willow in a few years, too.

Saw the Nields with kid and Patty Larkin with an adopted Chinese girl backstage, but decided to respect their privacy and leave off the lenswatching for a while.

Met up with Darcie and the kid after the Zanes set. Supper in the volunteer tent -- portabella wraps from Alex and some rice and beans from the volunteer stash -- and a walk by the beautiful cleaned-up Hudson...

...until Willow spotted the Dance Stage again and had to dance some more. 'twas her last legs, though; Darcie left tfor the tent again, and I went off to join the crowd for the big finale.

Arrived at the now packed mainstage area to catch the last few songs of Toshi Reagon's set. Big woman, powerful guitar, soprano sweetness -- rumor has it she was once in Sweet Honey in the Rock, and if she wasn't, she could have been. Worth checking her out at the next one, if she's there.

By the time Toshi finished, the crowd along the hill behind me had hit almost ten thousand strong. Suddenly, at some unseen signal, hundreds of teenagers surged forward, standing up against the mainstage, trampling our blankets and blocking our view. Luckily, us old fogies managed to convince them that you just don't stand at folk concerts! I even welcomed a few of them onto my own blanket as the crowd began to hush, swallowing my covetousness in the face of their tanned and lush youth.

And what was the big attraction, you ask?

Ani, of course. It was great to see her solo after chaperoning all those full-stage indoor concerts over the years. Nice, too, to see her up so close.

Back at the camper in the twilight, limp and limping, I sat for a while with Darcie in the cool evening, eating crackers and cheese until the exhaustion finally kicked in. Though I had planned to stay up for a proper goodbye with Alex, Jay, Chelley, Joel, and a myriad other new unnamed acquaintances, I passed out at 9:30, and slept for 12 hours to find Darcie and Willow almost, but not quite, ready to pack up the camper and car, hitch one to the other, and drive away into the sun.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:24 PM |

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