View Full Version : How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Michael H Geimer
Apr-25-2004, 7:29pm
I got a call from some friends inviting me to a musical festival this weekend, should I accept a 4-hour volunteer shift sluffing recyling and poorly disposed "camp-crap". I said "Yes", and off I went to 2-day Town in Livermore, Calif.

2-Day Town is a great festival, in a the absolutey beautiful Ohlone wilderness, set right up against Lake Del Valle. It is a music festival hosting a wide array of styles beyond just the Bluegrass I was hoping to find. In addition, the festival theme extends beyond the music, as it tries to involve the 'town citizens' in the Backpacker's motto of Leave No Trace or Pack it in. Pack it Out. It's even claimed the festival leaves the park cleaner than before it arrived. That's impressive!

So, I helped collect and organize the recylcling, and also walked the town and discussed the whole idea of Leave No Trace, while also providing people with plastic bags for their waste, and generally encouraging folks to take away everything they introduce to the park. Leave only footprints. Take only pictures., that sort of stuff, plus a lot of sweaty sticky labor, too ... but I'm good that way.

Then I was Free! Free! Free! to spend most every remaining moment playing music. I got to pick at what I call a 'Big Kid Jam' of really top notch players. Early on at that jam, I actually had the nerve to call and sing a tune, but as the skill level accended, I just tucked into the groove, watched, learned, and just enjoyed every song and every moment.

It turns out, my volunteer gig was really a great way to network, 'cause people at the jams rememberd me from that morning's 'meet-n-greet', and readily welcomed me into the circle. A good perk that opened the door to lots of picking invitations as I wandered around the festival in my off-duty hours.

I'm an early riser who gets up with the sun every morning, but my friends aren't. So yesterday morning I wandered off in search of coffee, and found some at the festival cafe. There I also found a small stage, with an empty stool ... as no one seemed to know anything about a performance schedule, I just took my coffee right up there myself, guitar in hand. Turns out, that was the whole 'suggestion'.

In fact, I did that this morning as well, when it just so happened one of those Big Kids from the last night's jam came around for her morning java. I actually got quite nervous, but she offered a warm smile, and even hopped out of line to come up and sing harmony with me on Dark as a Dungeon ... hurrying back into line during each verse, and back up for the next chorus ... so on, so forth. LOL! She also took the time to talk to me about some of the old songs I sing, and tell me the history of these old stories. Wonderfull stuff.

On my way back to my campsite after breakfast, I sat down with some younger festival goers who are just dipping there toes into the whole 'Carter style' or 'Bluegrass style' jam circle way of things, having played only rock and pop stuff until hitting some festivals. One guy talked about what a drag it is when it's so dark at a campsite jam, and you can't see anyone's hands to find the chords. So, we talked a little about how you can still find the changes through playing by ear, by learning to identify the different qualities that the IV and V chords give off, and how to use these clues to help find the changes. They did great, and we jammed a little. So, maybe I too just planted a seed in a younger mind. The festivals I'm hittin' sure seem to be pretty open to the sharing of ideas and songs, and such.

Even when it was time to leave ... well, that took an hour or more! See, first I stopped at the music store booth and picked a couple fiddle tunes with a couple other visitors. Then, I was introduced to a guy who handed me his teens-era Gibson A, and we picked on probably a dozen more tunes both fiddle and vocal ... I have some sore fingers, but I'm still grinnin'.

Now, I don't think that I'm a Big Kid just yet. That will surely take many more events like this. But, ya know? I do think I got taller this weekend ... might just be time to get myself that nine-pound hammer.

... and maybe take a nap, too.

- Benignus

Coy Wylie
Apr-25-2004, 9:30pm
Great story Benignus! Did you take any pics?

Michael H Geimer
Apr-26-2004, 8:46am
Well ... forgetting to pack any cameras, our camp seemingly embraced the even broader concept of Leave No Evidence. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Apr-26-2004, 8:48am
Wish they had those kind of things in the metro NY area, We need stuff like that, Clean wooded places and good Jams.
sounds great Bro!

Apr-26-2004, 8:51am
Very eloquently described, Benignus. Glad you had a great time.

Michael H Geimer
Apr-26-2004, 8:55am
OK ... here's a public picture of Lake Del Valle. 2-day Town is located on the far shore, and I was camped in that sweet patch of green right along the water ... gotta love camping with staff!

Apr-26-2004, 10:15am
Be careful Benig - you're gonna become a bluegrass camper yet!


Michael H Geimer
Apr-26-2004, 10:28am
Well, I admit I'm still a festival newbie, as 2-day was only my second festival ever.

But ... I've packed my Backpacker guitar pretty far back country ... 12.5K' ... so I think I merit the title of 'Camper' if not 'Bluegrass camper'.

BTW: The more I look at it, the less I think that photo above does justice to the landscape ... as it basically just shows the day use area frequented by the boaters and swimmers, etc.

Our side of the lake was full of wildlife ... sightings included a bald eagle, a mountain line - who got photographed, a bobcat, and many other less endagered animals.

Apr-26-2004, 11:01am
Benig, ya run into Regi there? Sounds like it was a blast, good tune-up for Strawberry!

Michael H Geimer
Apr-26-2004, 11:37am
No Regi http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

But, lots of Strawberry folks there. I knew more people than my friends who invited me. LOL!

You and Barbara should come down next year, as it is quite the mini-berry in spirit. Imagine 'Berry with lots more elbow room!