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October, 2007

"Back to Winfield"

by Webmaster

I've written about going to Winfield KS so often that I'm not sure I can write anything new about it. So much stays the same: the friendly efficient WVA staff, reconnecting with great friends, listening to great music, jamming all night under the stars, meeting and playing music with new people who may become great friends, cruising the camp ground to check out the camp site decorations, checking for the free flat-picks, Tommy Emmanuel's musicianship, the instrument contests, the wonderful crafts booths and food venders, Bill Barwick's deep and soothing voice and exciting guitar work, and brainstorming about "next year." I look forward to the trip with happy anticipation during the drive there. And I think about the time I spent there while I'm driving home. Sometimes, I'm so inspired by my time in Winfield that I write a song or too--either while I'm there or while I'm driving home.

So what was new for me this year, at the 36th Annual Walnut Valley Festival? Sometimes I come up with a slogan. This year's slogan was "Time is short and we're in Winfield." For the first time since I've been going there in 1994, I was hassled by someone about where I chose to camp. It was unmarked camping space near my friends. To avoid a major confrontation, the next morning I moved to a better location for all of us. And I made peace with the person who had the issue. "Time is short and we're in Winfield." It certainly made for a much more pleasant experience to remember that.

Another new experience was FrontPorchRadio. They sponsored a stage where "regular" people could sign up and play their tunes. They make recordings of the performances available on their website. Thanks to Suzie Solomon of Founders: Bands, Singers, Songwriters, Solo Performers, Sidemen, Instrumentalists, Performers, Entertainers, Musicians, Places to Hear Acoustic Music, Locations, Venues, Clubs, Festivals, Business and Services Supporting Acoustic Music, Music Stores, Musical Instruments, Music Teachers GospelGrass Gospel Grass: Places to Hear Acoustic Music, Locations, Venues, Clubs, Festivals, Music Promoters, I was able to do 40 minutes of original tunes, playing guitar and singing, with Suzie accompanying me on fiddle. In addition, Gretchen and Steve Newman of Albuquerque NM accompanied me. We weren't polished by any means, but we had fun! How wonderful for three people to play on songs they don't know, just to provide moral support! So, big-time thank you's to FrontPorchRadio and to Suzie, Gretchen and Steve.

I heard new tunes. Each time a new person joins our jams, they bring their own tunes with them. New and favorite performers play new tunes. There's one I want to chase down because I'd love to learn to sing and play it. That should give me something to do when I'm snowbound this winter.

I heard new bands. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing The Wiyos' instrumentation and song choices, and I loved Alecia Neugent (shades of Allison Krauss).

Things change over the 14 years I've been going to Winfield. There are more people each year and the campsites fill up sooner. I see fewer stage shows and spend more time jamming in the camp ground. Friends upgrade from tents to pop-up trailers to RV's or motel rooms. So much of the change is for the good.

One thing doesn't change though. I see no end to my traveling to Winfield each year to meet with my friends. And, I tell people about Winfield and they make plans to go "next year" for their first time. My enthusiasm seems to be contagious.

All I can say is, "If you've never been, go! If you haven't been for a while, go back!"

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