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October, 2006

"Winfield KS, Again"

by Webmaster

In August, I wrote about the price of gas. I was concerned, and still am, about the price of gas affecting the attendance at acoustic music festivals, concerts and other events.

Well, I'm glad to say that I didn't let the price of gas affect my almost-annual sojourne to Winfield KS in September for the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival.

First, I got my favorite camping site, up on the bank of the river, in the West camp ground, between my two favorite picking groups. Second, the weather was almost perfect: no rain, clear sunny skies, balmy evenings, cool nights (great for sleeping). OK. It got a little hot during the day.

It was wonderful to reconnect with friends—we don't see each other except from year to year at Winfield. There were folks there from the Colorado front range that I don't see here. I only get to see them at Winfield. It's like a family reunion, only, you can "pick" your family!

Some of the folks I reconnected with were very important to me in my past. It was nice to connect and recall fond memories. I felt like I was mending fences. Winfield is a good place for that, too.

And the pickin': well, I had 4 nights when I was in "the zone." I also had time to finish writing a song I've been working on for a year and time to learn some new guitar licks. Since I play bass for a number of bands, I don't have time to work on my guitar chops. With my new job, I don't have time to work on bass chops either. What a luxury to have 4 full days to think about music and play music!

I did make it to the various shows. Tim O'Brien: fabulous. Dan Cray: fabulous. The Green Cards blew my sox off. I couldn't get enough of them. And Tommy Emmanuel — it's remarkable to see a first-timer's reaction to Tommy. One delightful surprise was the Front Porch Radio Show, in a tent in the campground. They gave folks a chance to perform for half an hour and put it out onto the internet.

Something magic happens at acoustic music events, where folks hang out, and make music as well as listen to music: bonding and emotional healing, laughter and silliness, high spirits and music.

It's not just Winfield. I've heard the same of folk festivals that I've never been to. I've found a lot of the same feelings at local bluegrass festivals.

If you've never been to a weekend-long music festival, where you camp out and experience the music 24 hours a day, I highly recommend that you try it.

Sure, there are the inconveniences of camping and being subject to the weather. The folks nearby may like to play music later than you want to stay up. Showers are a walk away and cost money. Port-a-potties are not pleasant under the best of circumstances, and are really nasty on a hot afternoon.

But, falling asleep under the stars, listening to folks nearby playing wonderful acoustic music, is a magical experience. Playing music until you're too tired to stand, then playing more, is a magical experience.

Try it. You might like it.

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