August 06, 2013

Falcon Ridge 2013 - Part I

Back from the hills of Falcon Ridge. Before I sum up my week in folk heaven, let's let the Grand Slambovians and photographer Neale Eckstein put it all in perspective. This song, and video, totally gets it, and made me cry watching it.

So first off, my experience of Falcon Ridge is highly atypical. As a crew chief for the performer merchandise crew, I spend most of the festival in a trailer behind the Festival Merchandise tent, working. My days are long. I lead a yoga practice each morning (7:30 - 8:30 am), stop by the volunteer kitchen for some breakfast, and then head over to the merch trailer for 9:00 am opening. We check-in CDs, move everything from the trailers to the tent until 11 am when the tent opens for business. And then we hang out, keeping an eye on the stock in the tent, checking performers in and out throughout the day, coordinating artist signings, etc. Just before 11 pm, we pack up all the merch in boxes and ake it out to the trailers for safe keeping overnight.

Now, it's not all work. Our trailer is within earshot of main stage so I hear a lot of music; I step away from time to time to cruise the midway, grab a shower, head back to the campsite for a few.  And I get to interact with nearly all of the performers at some point, which is lovely. When amazing folks like Dan Navarro, Vance Gilbert and Eliza Gilkyson great you fondly with a hug and remember you from previous years, it's a nice treat.

But yeah, in terms of dancing, sitting in front of a stage, wandering the festival grounds at night looking for a song circle - not so much. Just too busy and my downtime over the weekend is a precious opportunity to restore and recharge.  Nevertheless, I always have some magic moments at the fest, and this year was no exception.

This was a good Nields year for me. At one point, Nerissa's young daughter was busking with her violin in the midway, and the image of this young girl working through a practiced tune (with all the fits and starts and missed notes of an earnest beginner) while mom sat back and proudly listened just filled me with joy. It was very sweet. Similarly, the pre-teen supergroup Belle Amie (consisting of Amelia Nields Chalfant, Isabella Deherdt, and Alouette Battea) was wonderful to watch all weekend - a short set after the Emerging Artist showcase, signing CDs in the merch tent, several back-up opportunities, and Amelia joining her mom and aunt on stage) was adorable and heart-warming. One of the few times I stood in front of  Main Stage was for the Nields (that was me dancing with my rainbow umbrella), and I caught a bit of  their family stage set which made me feel like a happy 6 year old. So yeah - the Nields. I caught them at the start of their career (in the 66 Hoxie Street days) and have been a fan ever since. So lovely to see them still vibrant and nurturing the next generation.

Susan Werner was also a highlight this year. I'll confess, I have never really "gotten" Susan; friends swear by her and I've listened, but it's never clicked. This year, listening to her (abetted by Red Molly) singing "May I Suggest" broke my heart wide open. I definitely need to give her another listen, especially her new CD Hayseed, and her newish live CD. Here's a short clip.

Susan ended up signing and meeting her fans for 2.5 hours on Saturday - an amazing sight. Everyone got a hug and some personal attention, she knew names of kids and life circumstances, she must have handed out close to a dozen CDs (which we furiously attempted to keep track of) and she promised to put at least that many folks on the guest list of her next show in their town. So if I've fallen in love with Susan Werner this weekend, you know why.

I taught yoga again this year. In a lot of ways, I owe my career as a yoga teacher to Falcon Ridge, must have been 2006 and 2007 when I first found myself inadvertently leading a practice (I was doing my personal practice and several folks were kind of following along) which planted the teacher training seed in my mind. So keeping morning yoga at Falcon Ridge is very important to me. I failed to put up a sign this year (just got too busy) but my 2012 sign magically appeared on the info board, and I ended up with 10-12 students each morning. Was quite lovely. And the new big tough plastic bins I purchased to stash my mats and props in worked perfectly - keeping things dry through multiple showers and the nightly dew.

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