Saturday, September 27, 2008

another springfest adventure....

I have a long drive to get to all of the festivals that are on my schedule! I live in the far northern part of Wisconsin and can't help where they hold all of those sweet festivals that I love so much... I have had both wonderful and not-so-wonderful experiences on those drives, and the one that I took a few years ago on the way to Florida for the Suwannee Springfest had elements of both.

The Springfest is held in March and that's a trick in itself in that the weather in Wisconsin during this time of year can be a challenge! The potential for big-ass snowstorms is always present...these storms can produce massive amounts of heavy wet snow; the kind that is not very much fun to drive in.

This particular trip had a potential for being a dandy! As luck looked to be on my side, I had planned on reaching Nashville on Friday night, just in time for a visit to the Station Inn for an evening of fabulous music with that fabulous guitarist, Bryan Sutton, and "friends". Then, after arriving in Florida on Saturday, the plan was to go over to Jacksonville on Sunday for a concert featuring none other than Sam Bush himself, along with none other than Natalie McMaster! I would have plenty of time to get over to Jacksonville during the day on Sunday, hang around on the beach, take in a good meal at sweet restaurant on the beach, and catch this for-sure fabulous concert...this was lookin' good. >g<

So---the weather leading up to my departure from home sent a wrench into my plans; one of those storms was comin' on. But, it didn't look like a big problem, as I could simply leave a day earlier which would allow me to get south before the storm hit and consequently put me in Nashville a day earlier; I could handle that! Things were still lookin' good as I left home, but after only an hour and a half of driving my truck's engine decided that it had had enough. Luckily I was in a gas station across from a Ford dealership when this happened and just as lucky the fine fellow in the service department had a buddy who was in the salvage business and who had just taken in an accident truck whose engine was the same as mine and this engine had not been damaged in the accident...whew!

I had to spend a couple of days in a motel near the dealership, which of course was not that much fun, even though they had a very nice pool and there was plenty of March madness basketball on the tv. My "new" engine was in the process of being removed from the damaged truck at the same time that my blown engine was being removed from my truck, so the process only took a couple of days...this was in itself a stroke of luck! During this time the snowstorm came and went, so I was able to avoid it, but the Nashville plans didn't happen. I was back on the road on Friday, however, so my Sunday date with Mr. Bush and Ms. McMaster still looked good.

I arrived at the Suwannee park early on Sunday morning to find that a family was camped in "my spot". They were there for the weekend and would be leaving in the early afternoon, so I decided to try to nap in the truck. This didn't work very well, but I did come up with a Plan B. My truck and trailer were still covered with Wisconsin salt and snow grime and so they could certainly need a washing and I had plenty of time....a water spigot was handy and my cd boom box ready to make some sweet sounds. It was a slow process...I used a coffee pot from my camp kitchen to supply both the wash water and the rinse water, but while this was slow, the desired effect was obtained!

It was around 1:00pm when the family finally had packed up and left and I was able to move over to start setting up my camp. When I got there I of course noticed that they had had a big campfire goin' all weekend, right where I always set up my tent! There was a huge build up of still hot coals and I of course had to remove them....I would shovel some sand into the bottom of my plastic wheelbarrow and then shovel some of those hot coals and then haul them over to another water spigot for cooling off. Whew, another slow process! Eventually I was successful and in the process I had produced a big depression where my tent would sit so I also had to replace the sand removed to make the area once again level. And then just for safety sake I hauled some water with my only partial-burnt plastic wheel barrow and dumped it on the area, making sure that I wouldn't be setting my tent up on a still-hot ground!

It was sort of fun doing this job...the tunes were goin' good and the weather was nice and I usually like a challenge anyway. I was pretty far into the process when a fellow came up to me, asking just what this "Dancin'Dave" thing was all about anyway; he and his buddy and their families were camped near where I had done the wash job and so they had read the side of my trailer. I told him what I was up to and it was then that he mentioned: "Yah...we were watching you wash your truck and trailer; you were using a coffee pot!". I agreed with him of course and it was then he exclaimed that they were all wondering why I didn't come over and borrow their water hose! (and why they thought that I knew that they even HAD a water hose I've never been able to figure out...>g<)(it still makes me smile whenever I think about it...)

Anyhoo...I was finally able to start setting up my camp! I had camped in the same spot for about 6 or 7 years at that point, twice a year...once for the Springfest and then again in the fall for the Magnoliafest, so I know exactly where everything fits. So, I set up my tent, staking the back edge, and then flipping it over so I could rake out the spot and put down the ground cloth. As I was raking I noticed that there was water seeping in and my first thought was: "Mmm...I must have dumped more water on the spot than I thought I did..." However, the water kept comin' at a good pace and it wasn't long before I realized that there was no way that I had dumped THAT much water....and sure enough, I had driven one of the tent stakes right through a 3/4 inch plastic water pipe that turned out was buried a whole three or four inches under the ground! Once I realized what was goin' on I rushed down to the park office and they assured me that a fellow would be up soon to take a look.

The young fellow did show up quickly and we both proceeded to shovel in the gushing water to find the broken pipe; it was then that he mentioned: "oh...there's probably an electric line running in the same area." "HUH?!"....was my reaction to this news! So we gingerly shoveled and sure enough I did find an electric line buried right alongside the water line and luckily the ginger-shoveling had paid off for the electric line hadn't been damaged. (of course, if one of us would have hit said line hard enough with our shovels we probably wouldn't have had enough time to notice...)
He ran off to find a shut-off valve and I proceeded to dig a trench for the water to drain away. He came back soon and told me that he had found a shut-off valve...but I pointed out the fact that the water hadn't really stopped! And it was then that he said: "oh...we're at the high spot in the area and so all of the water is draining out here". Another "HUH?!" was my reaction to this observation! So I did talk him into going to look for another shut-off valve, which he finally did and so finally all the water stopped draining to the highest spot in the area.... (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried, folks.) the time I got all the water drained and my tent set up I had just enough time to hightail it over to Jacksonville for the Sammy/Natalie concert. I of course wasn't able to spend any time at the beach and my plan of eating at a sweet restaurant didn't pan out either...but hey, the concert was hot!!

And consequently the rest of the week went smoothly and the Springfest was wonderful and I have had fun telling this story again and again; it still brings a smile to my face...

Peace, David

Sunday, September 14, 2008

more northland dancin'.....

Dancin'Dave and Dancin' Connor David....

two of my favorite dance partners...!

Connor David and "white-hair Grandma"...dancin' at Northland.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

two small wisconsin festivals....

Art Stevenson & High Water

Connor David and Grandpa Dancin'Dave

Hello again, fellow music lovers...

I am damned lucky in that I get to attend many festivals every year! Most of them are on my business schedule...these festivals are festivals that I would deem to be "major" festivals; ones that feature many top bands and ones that attract festivarians from all around the country and many parts of the world, even. I love it...

And at the same time I am also lucky to have a bunch of smaller festivals near my home here in Wisconsin...ones that I don't attend with my business; these are strictly for pleasure! This year I was disappointed that I wasn't able to attend Flatrock, a festival that is put on by a couple of old friends of mine and one that is always a hoot. I had a family gathering that weekend, so other than the fact that these family gatherings are always precious, the timing sucked. >g< Also, for about the first 7 or 8 years I attended the Big Bull Falls Blues Festival held in Wausau, Wisconsin; but for the last few years the timing hasn't been right for that festival, either. (good thing that my family is sooo damned cute...>g<)

I was able to take in two fine festivals near home in August, however. The first was the Northland Bluegrass Festival, held near Iola. This was the 9th annual, already (!), and is hosted by Art and Stephanie Stevenson and their band High Water. Besides being friends of mine, this band has really impressed me with their high-quality, high-energy and hard-driving traditional bluegrass music. They do a fine mixture of both bluegrass standards and original music...the musicianship and the vocal harmonies are wonderful. Plus, the crowd reaction is exciting as can be...the dance floor is kept hoppin' throughout all of their sets! This year the festival also featured Frank Ray & Cedar Hill (who I missed because I could only make it to the festival on Saturday); Rob Lumbard (a mighty fine bluesy kind of guitarist); Spare Time Bluegrass, from Madison, Wisconsin; New Bad Habits, a wonderful old-timey band who really got the crowd dancin' up a storm; and Sloppy Joe, a Wisconsin favorite who pride themselves in playing their own genre of acoustic music that they dub "slopgrass". (and don't you dare tell them that they are playing it wrong...they invented the genre! >g<) They also get the crowd gotta' love a festival that saves 50% of the area in front of the stage for dancing!

I have many friends at Northland that I've known for at least 30 years now...we're all veterans of the ol' Mole Lake Bluegrass Festival that started in the mid-70s and ran until the early 90s. THAT was a festival that has stories! >g< (and none of them need embellishment...)

But my biggest highlight of Northland this year was the fact that Lynn and I took grandson Connor David to his first overnight festival trip! He was a bit shy at first, but warmed up quickly to the music...he danced his little 6 year old legs to exhaustion until 10:00 that night. He and Grandma Lynn hit the tent at that time, and Grandpa stayed up and danced until the band stopped... The next morning my heart melted when he told me: "I sure had fun dancing with you last night, Grandpa!"

The second festival actually had started out as a birthday party for a good friend, Jimmer, who is the bass/washtub player for Sloppy Joe. I really don't know how long this party has been goin' on, but it certainly had's now a four day festival that features a big variety of bands that represent a variety of musical genres. Again, Lynn and I could only attend one day/night, but it was a dandy. The highlight of the festival, musically, was the Piper Road Spring Band, who have been together now for 35 years! The members are scattered around the country these days and they don't get together for a whole lot of gigs, but when they do and when I get to see them it is always a treat....they never disappoint.

Both of these festivals are major dancin' events... I love it! It's a real hoot to spin around partners both old and young...I do like to tease my older friends/partners that I just have to keep finding younger and younger partners seeing as how the older ones keep getting older; of course they like to point out the fact that I can't dance for 10 or 12 straight hours anymore either! One of my "new" partners is a little 18 year old cutie named Jenny who has all the rhythm and enthusiasm and energy in the world and who I can't dance with more than a couple of dances in a row....whew! (I tell myself that at this point in my life that it's not the quantity, it's the quality....>g<)

And as an added dancin' treat, a good friend of mine who I've seen at festivals in Colorado, New York, and Florida over the span of many years has started showing up at Northland every year for the past 4 or 5! He lives in California and he was visiting his mother, who lives near the Northland festival, one year and while reading the local paper he discovered the festival, knew that I lived somewhere in Wisconsin, and checked it out. It was a wonderful surprise to see him there that year and it is always a treat to get to visit with him wherever we meet....Mike is one of my favorite male dancers; I love to watch him groove to the music!

Festival life is sure grand....

Peace, David

Mike and Jenny.....