Saturday, August 1, 2009

Grassroots Festival Day 2

Saturday, July 18th 2009

We'd planned on getting to festival earlier but between our leisurely ways and house-sitting duties, we didn't leave until nearly 4 pm. It was still overcast and a bit chilly so Carol was bummed that she had to dress rather more practical than her usual festive attire.

When we got there the party was in full swing as we mingled through the ever changing throngs. We met Vince and Christie on the grassy hill and people-watched for awhile, then went to check out some music. The Horse Flies, a local favorite, were holding forth on the center stage. They have a unique sound that is difficult to describe. Meandering over to the ice cream stall we chanced upon Scythian, a Celtic music group in the dance tent. They were very cool, and very talented.

Later we watched Bela Fleck play his banjo, as he does so well. He soon brought Oumou Sangare on stage; a black, French chick from Mali. Did she ever liven things up. You can only listen to a solo banjo for so long. Then they brought on Alash Ensemble, a Tuvan (Mongolian) throat singing group that wowed the crowd. It was an interesting and eclectic set.

After that we wandered around and had more delicious food for dinner, then strolled through the craft stalls and art barns, and down to the infield where things were getting livelier. Part of the fun of this festival is that there are a limited number of camping sites right inside the fairgrounds and it's first come, first camped. One group of tents formed a little pavilion next to the main pathway between stages. It's amazing what people will do for a guy with a bullhorn. Every time we passed this area a guy with a bull horn was offering free frisking, asking people to join in some games, asking girls to take off their shirts, or some such thing. Usually people ignored his requests but by Saturday evening, things had changed. This time there was a fair sized crowd around this makeshift pavilion and the master of ceremonies had them cheering. Inside the ring were 6 young ladies playing leap frog with a completely naked young man with a party favor tiara on his head. The crowd was loving it. Camera flashes were going off and I'm sure videos were being shot. The Bullhorn was exhorting the female participants to shed their clothes as well. Things were moving in that direction and they'd just started wheelbarrow racing when a beefy Samoan looking security man put an end to it. Oh well. I was looking forward to watching this unfold. People booed him away then peacefully dispersed, and that was the end of that sideshow. We never made it back to see if they were able to initiate any new chicanery but I hope they were.

Moving between stages, Carol led me into the dance tent where a terrific bluegrass band was playing. We stomped and twirled around with the best of them and briefly joined a line dance, but soon fell out of their step and into our own. The crowd soon parted for us, and we ended with my bending Carol into a deep dip to the final strains of the music.

The closing act was Donna the Buffalo. They played until 2:00 in the morning, creating a wonderful ambience with their mix of incredible guitar, violin, keyboard, accordian and rhythm section. Mystic Water was one of the most hypnotic songs ever performed. Carol and I both felt entranced, as did everyone else. This is one great live band. We were truly transported and for a couple hours felt like one of the Herd (their troupe of traveling fans). Up in the sky Jupiter beamed, stars dotted the night scape and all was right with the world.

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