Sitting at the airport 5am monday morning after little folk... Just another incredible weekend at the ranch..
Note to myself: Next year, please remember... watch, cutting board for the bread, a new tent, and a new fanny pack to replace the one which keeps falling down around your ankles.. And, remember to get there on thursday, so you're not dead tired by the end of friday.. Lastly, remember to get SOME sleep the week before you get there... 12 or 13 hours total for the preceeding 4 nights is not enough..
Getting to little folk this year was pretty easy... I didn't forget too many things... watch, cutting board, sleep... nothing life shattering, but certainly items which cause routinus interruptus. Buying a "festival watch" each time i come here is getting to be a tradition... The watch lady at walmart is getting to know me rather well... We've got to stop meeting like this..
I actually got to the ranch earlier than i had ever managed to get there before.. 1:30 pm. A combination of on-time flights, no hotel check-in (i'm camping), and taking exit 505 to cut a few miles off my required trip to walmart for the watch and cooler, got me there pretty early.. (Not early enough to keep "My" tent spot from being claimed by robert tower, but, i'll get even.. heh heh heh.. I'm already thinking up xmas party awards for bob.. < gg >) Got the tent up, cut up loaves of bread for delivery to various friends, (sorry i only had partial loaves for y'all this year... ran out of time and energy).. The one advantage of the spot i did get is that it's so close to nashville and coho, it's easy to hear them..
Do you know why it takes hours to set up a tent at the ranch ?? It's because every thirty seconds, you have to stop and spend 10 minutes saying hello to another friend you haven't seen since big folk...
Little folk is quite a bit different than the main festival in the spring.. While there are still a significant number of singer songwriters in attendance, this is NOT a singer songwriter festival.. It's billed as a wine and music festival. So the percentage of singer sonwriters is down quite a bit from the spring, the percentage of hard core folkies is down somewhat, and the percentage of winos are up < gg > ... Al grierson came back to his tent one afternoon, and found someone (not invited) sleeping in it.. He had chosen his tent as the one most likely to be "theirs" on the way back from the afternoon wine tasting please note, tasting in these conditions is not taking a little but, sloshing it around and spitting it out... (hint:replace the little with lot , and remove the sloshing & spitting < gg >) The rumor that the person in al's tent was Tom Noe, is strenously denied by none other than Tom Noe himself.. However, in an impromptu kangaroo court, tom was judged guilty as charged.. The punishment was signficant incoming crap, and the likelihood of not living this down for quite awhile...
There were some wonderful surprises awaiting me this year.. The biggest surprise was the return of Chris Chandler to the ranch.. He was without accompanyment, playing solo this time around, and as he usually does, broke a string right out of the gate at the ballad tree on Friday. Friday's ballad tree was sparsely attended, but the fulfillment was just as complete as always..
Friday's mainstage was a treat.. Erik Moll began the evening, followed by a tremendous performance by Jana Stanfield, We didn't go down from there, as Jana was followed by johnsmith (no space) Liz Queler and John McVey, not a weak performance amongst them.. During John McVey's performance, he let slip a non-familial word, and, anytime he was near a microphone during the next 3 days kept apologizing to Rod and the crowd for his slip.. < gg > I think his new nickname is John "I'm really really really sorry" McVey, There were regular appearances during the evening by the "house" backup queen Kristen DeWitt. The evening was closed by a great performance by Pierce pettis, and Forlini & Cross, who were better than i remembered.. Despite a massage, a shower, lots of gatorade, and caffeine, i was completely physically exhausted, and beginning to exhibit signs of heat exhaustion.
The festival's second surprise awaited me when i got back to camp coho, and Jack hardy was waiting, along with his "shut up and play the song" t-shirt. Jack couldn't talk (I think bamboozle was the word he used) anyone else into coming down with him this year, so he drove down from New York by himself. For those of you who don't have one of his t-shirts yet, get in touch with jack and buy one (might as well order his 10CD boxed set, or the boxed set sampler (1-cd).. I'd give you his email address, but he doesn't even own a TV let alone a computer, so you're on your own for this one..
I practically fell out of my chair at camp coho around midnight, and didn't stay up for ANY of the campfires.. A first for me; it wasn't surprising considering the total of about 14 hours sleep i had had in the preceeding 4 nights... I slept until 11am on saturday.. From what i was told, i missed one hell of a night... I know i heard wonderful tunes coming from both Coho and Nashville throughout the night.. I was so tired, that when bob tower came around the tent about 3 and said "Brian, Brian, are you there?, etc..", i actually got up, and told him i had to get back to sleep.. I laid back down, and could hear all the wonderful music just filling my head.. As my first night on the ranch since big folk, it was completely ethereal.. I made a conscious decision to NOT get up, but to get the sleep i needed to enjoy the rest of the festival.. (and boy, i did, and i did..)
Ozzie could report on the friday night's activities, but, for those of you who don't know yet, ozzie (the wuss) didn't go to little folk... (send all boos and hisses to email@example.com).. I guess we can't really blame her, she's still waiting for the right time to tell her wonderful husband, chico, that the weekend she was missing in July, she was actually at falcon ridge, not sleepwalking < gg >..
Saturday started off with Tim henderson and friends at the threadgill starting at 1. Tim is a great storyteller, and had the crowd falling out of their seats with his stories and music.. By the time i got there, Alan Damron had joined tim on stage. I've got to say a few words here about Alan, last year, he not only survived cancer, but has returned to the stage (in a limited fashion). He told the story of his past year, and included this gem: (paraphrased) "In 1998, i almost died from cancer, then almost died from chemo, then almost died from the infection i picked up at the hospital. I also met margie (tons of apologies if i get the name wrong, please let me know & i'll correct it for the ramblings), and we got married this past july 4th. So, 1998 turned out to be the best year of my life".. Alan is walking around with a wonderful spirit of life in him, and is a joy to be anywhere near... Best wishes for continuing health and spirit alan, and here's hoping to see you at many more big & little folk's..
After tim's show finished at threadgill, I caught a portion of the ballad tree hosted by chuck brodsky, and highlighted (lowlighted)by the unrequited turkey plant love song.. I've just eaten, so i can't really convey any of the lyrics right now..
Saturday was Blue Margarita night at camp coho, for those of you who have been there, 'nuff said. For those of you who haven't been there, I'm honor-bound not to reveal any of the secret handshakes and stuff..
Saturday's mainstage started with Kate Cambell, (who i'm sorry to say i only caught the last 5 minutes of), followed by the wonderful wonderful chuck brodsky.. (Note to my south florida buddies on the list, Chuck wants to do a florida trip in early march, coinciding with spring training.. Let's JUMP at the opportunity to hear his wonderful spirit).. Chuck was surprised in the middle of his act by his longtime friend Doug Cox from british columbia who flew in and walked out on stage, throwing chuck in a "where did you come from" stupor.. They had been keeping the two of them apart for the entire previous day.. Al grierson said: "It was real tough at dinner when chuck was talking about doug, and i had to be real careful about what i said". Joel Rafael followed with his typically great set, finishing up with a song about Jamiaca, his daughter. Betty Elders, Jack Gladstone (excellent) and ponty bone followed. The end of the Ponty Bone set had one of the few exhibitions of bad behavior i've seen on the ranch, as Rod Kennedy, (he sincerely apologized the next night to a very hearty round of applause), was (in his own words), publicly quite rude to some staffers and some audience members from the stage. All these great performers were just a warm-up to one of the best talents i've ever seen at the festival. John Ims (pronounced ems), was in rare form, with his unmatched, over-the-top stage presence as he followed up one great song after another. It's difficult to relate just how funny john is, and just how over the top... I'll try to give you some more details, later in the week, after i have a chance to think about it.. John was followed by the nights closing act, Tish Hinojosa. Unfortunately, i missed tish's performance, as i was taking care of the last item on my t-shirt's todo list, "being a little bit less single".
Mainstage was followed up by a great night of campfires (without the fires, burning ban in effect this year) at nashville, coho, & i didn't make it to any others. Chris chandler was holding court in the middle of the road by the main bathrooms, & I finally got to sleep around 7:30.
Sunday started with Clandestine at the threadgill. You could hear the wonderful bagpipes from Coho, and thats where i was parked until 5.
Mainstage Sunday night (i've worn out all my superlatives by now, so i'll be short) was Bob Malone, Adam & Kris, Staid Cleaves, Kate Wallace (backed up by the ever present & ever deserving to be present Kristen DeWitt and Teresa Brunelle), Floyd Domino & Johnny Nichols, Caroline Aiken, and The Kennedys. All the performers were well received, and the performances top-notch. For me, Kate and Caroline were the highlights of the evening. Luckily for Kate, she's a much better performer than card player (i know i'm gonna pay for that one somewhere down the line, so, Kate, please be gentle with me.. < gg >), And caroline was nothing short of electric.. The Kenneday's were excellent as always, but they are not the festival closers that the Asylum Street Spankers were.. (So Rod, if you're reading this, here's one vote to bring back the asylum street spankers. I'm sure if you mention it to them, they'll clean up their language a little (NOT!) < gg >)
Sunday night campfires were a little subdued, although I must thank the chatterboxes for their stirring 5 renditions of happy birthday to me in 4 part harmony about 2AM, when i was getting ready to leave.. I've got a birthday card, unopened (at least they SAID it was a birthday card) from my wonderful friends at Camp Coho.. It will be opened Wednesday night, in the company of some of my closest friends in florida, as i try to spread some of the kerr-speriences along..
Some items of Note:
I could have some of these things confused, but i think i'm at least close..
Last year, Vaugn purchased the ranch, this year, he's purchased the festival itself. The transaction is supposed to be completed in october. They will be conducting a search over the next 3 or 4 years for a new producer to replace Rod.
The RV office is nearing completion, and the rv park was pretty near full for the festival.
Bill nash says the pictures are coming soon...
More reviews as they filter through my head...