Date: Sun, 28 Jul
1996 12:37:52 -0500
I saw Marty and Mrs. Nipper yesterday, and got to meet Aunti of the sunny face and matching disposition. Also met her husband, Bob, and Laurie, a friend of theirs who happens to be a librarian. Emily showed up later, but with no Adam in tow. This was at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in Hillsdale, N.Y., a beautiful area of hills and farms at the foot of the Berkshires, near the intersection of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The event took place on Long Hill Farm, which is perfectly suited for a folk fest. There are large flat areas (good for parking and for setting up booths) dominated by a huge, steep hill, and when I arrived the hill was blanketed by what looked like thousands of people and nearly as many tents. There were the usual concession stands for funky festfood (Freshly Popped Organic Popcorn, Skewered Yakitori, Tofu-Veggie Stir Fry, Veggie Dogs) and booths for crafts, plus workshops (on songwriting, among other things).
You could easily spend a couple of hours just on the crafts booths: "environmental jewelry," soapstone carvings, hand-crafted drums, batik clothing, ceramic flutes, rustic wood carvings, southwestern crafts, face painting, wildflower beads, New Age crapola and the usual millions of buttons, stickers and keychains.
Marty and I strolled around the grounds for a while and came upon a guy who was demonstrating and selling didgeridoos, four- to six-foot- long bamboo things that look like blowguns. If you practice for about six months (or, in my case, six years), you can get these gizmos to make a great weird sound; it reminds me of the Twin Peaks music. I bought one, because how can you go to a folk festival and not buy something called a didgeridoo? Marty was intrigued by a booth that sold nifty little Vagabond Travel Guitars; I think he was planning to get one later.
After schmoozing for a while at the Nipper tent, we moved over to the main stage area. Wild Asparagus was on stage, followed by Mustard's Retreat, then Vikki True & The Sweet Sisters of Mercy & Martin Sexton and guests, then Vance Gilbert. They were all pretty great.
The weather was perfect, blue skies and sun, and a fine time was had by all. Marty and company had been camping there since Thursday night and survived a downpour or two. The Nippers have an impressive tent tall enough to stand upright in and approximately the size of my apartment, with its own shaded patio big enough to shelter four or five folding chairs.
I spent about five hours there and then left around three in the afternoon, feeling like a bit of a traitor for not staying longer (I had only had time to say hi to Emily; she was still wandering around somewhere when I left), and also like a bit of a fool, since Marty would be cooking dinner and Aunti was threatening to conjure up martinis. But the countryside beckoned; it's a beautiful area to drive around and this was a great day to do it. When you live in the concrete jungle of Joisey City, picturesque countryside has a powerful appeal. Not to mention the hawks. The Hudson Valley Raptor Center is about an hour south, in Stanfordville, and I had some vague thought of driving in that direction.
Date: Sun, 28 Jul
1996 23:29:11 -0400
I spent a nice long day in upstate NY yesterday at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Marty and Mary and Aunti and Aunti's husband Bob and Aunti's friend Laurie from Boston were there, and I ran into Myles just inside the front gate but never saw him again. I think he ran off to look at hawks. [Note to Adam/LH: You're in big trouble, dude, for not coming along! Marty is composing one of his best Rosenian diatribes, so beware ...]
The scene: Picture a beautiful day on a farm in a green valley, with thousands of people milling around enjoying the sights and sounds. Several hundred tents were scattered on one side of a hill, whose lower regions formed a sort of natural amphitheater. The ground was still drying out from a big rainstorm the previous day. A bit like Woodstock must have been, maybe, (but on a much smaller scale, of course) and with a healthy dose of 90s yuppie-ness thrown in (mine *certainly* wasn't the only SUV in the parking lot).
The people: Mostly the kind you'd expect to see ... people for whom the summer of love never ended, 20-somethings with various piercings, wearing tie-dye and Teva sandals, folks smoking who-knows-what, etc. But there were some surprises, especially in the dance tent, like the elderly couple (in their 70s, at least) having a grand old time dancing along to Kathy Anderson and The Horseflies, and the sweating teenagers swirling around the floor to cajun tunes by the Bayou Brethren. The crowd at the festival was almost entirely white; Aunti heard one singer, Vance Gilbert, who is black, say to the crowd, "I feel like the only chocolate chip in the cookie."
The music: I didn't hear much, but most of what I heard was good. Highlights were Patty Larkin (who writes catchy tunes that are poignant and funny at the same time), Nancy Tucker (who got all the men in the audience, including Marty, to join in a song called "Premenstrual Together"), up-and-coming types Catie Curtis and Dan Bern, and old-timer John Gorka ("Intense White Guy From New Jersey"). Moxy Fruvous stole the show, though. Mary raved about them, and she was right. I'll let Marty describe their music, because I really can't, except to say that they kept me laughing for most of their set.
The other highlights were Marty's stir-fry and the general spending-time- with-Wordslers, dishing all who weren't there, of course. Aunti and I compared Torondezvous pictures - we both got good shots of Natalie and her <props>. I finally hit the road about 9:45 p.m., and didn't get home until after midnight, but it was worth it. My only regret is that I didn't put on any sunblock (ouch)! But otherwise, it was a most pleasant way to end a month full of Words-l activity.
Date: Tue, 30 Jul
1996 15:19:29 -0400
Tushar, I've returned. Thank you for your gracious wishes for a long vacation. Alas, all good things seem to end much too quickly, don't they?
Myles and Emily have accurately described the picturesque setting for this festival. Long Hill Farm comes complete with double rainbows following heavy rains, as well as horses and donkeys, some of which helped the camping musicians serenade us into the wee hours of morning.
We, Aunti and husband Bob, the Nippers, friend Laurie (yes, the same Laurie you met Dan, and the same Laurie in the stunning photo - SHEESH -) were extremely rude during these 3 days. What i mean is that after a couple of days we did not look our best. Actually, I think we may have looked our worst. Oh well, folk festivals are about acceptance and sharing, peace, love and all that.
Non-musical highlights included the pleasure of meeting Myles (can't believe you skipped out on the cocktail hour, but all is forgiven if you enjoyed a beautiful drive in the hills), and visiting with Emily again. I tried the contra dancing on Sunday, Emily, and found, to my surprise, that I wasn't a complete klutz! Interesting that Adam chose an alternate way to spend his Saturday; he'll pay for that decision, I'm quite sure. In keeping with the folk dance component of the festival, Nipper delighted us with his Strug stroll - it's a sight to behold, very classy and <smooth>.
Did I mention that the music was great? The luxury of sitting and listening to some excellent individuals and bands for 3 days was a thrill, and more then made up for leaky tents, mattresses that deflate in the middle of the night, and unheated showers (a real test of sturdy constitutions). Next year's trek could be to attend the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival in Colorado, so more of you should plan to work this into your vacation plans.