Hollerfest 2010: My Personal Highlights
Hollerfest is always a relaxing weekend where I learn some new things. Ya never can tell beforehand, though, which makes it fun that way.
The event, as I've posted before, is a Jackson-area weekend of music, food and related Frog Holler farm activities, like hilltop yoga in the mornings.
The food is always a nice big aspect of the get-together, with the kitchen having a command-view of the natural ampitheater.
And I always love the contrast of the stone cabin venue with the main stage. The main area is perfect. You can sit anywhere you like, go right up to the band, the sound is dandy. But the cabin gives you a whole nother way to listen: up close and personal, totally acoustic.
In the end, standouts for me were when Billy King and Friends sang Dylan's "Copper Kettle." -- It's a new fave tune for me, along with Lucinda's "Fruits of My Labor," both of which I first heard there last year.
This time I recorded "Kettle" on my minicam and uploaded it to YouTube. I really like their version, which their dad Ken arranged.
They also played Ken's own "Moonlight Bright as Day," which I also recorded and uploaded.
Sadly, my cam is fairly lorez and I didn't get up very close to the stage. Maybe the sound woulda been worse that way but probably the imagery woulda been better. Maybe better/official recordings will get put up. (Last year the whole show -- and "Fruits"! -- was professionally video'ed but the files haven't been uploaded.)
A really big kick for me was that this time I stayed up late, past the "official" performances. Last year I woke up at 4am to faint sounds of a beat and I wandered in a dream to the top of the ampitheater and sensed that there was a posse of players down there, a whole acoustic band's-worth---bass, drums and all. All I could see was a little trace of old bonfire glowing. It was nice in the foggy night but I was kind of asleep and wandered back to my tent. THIS year I was ready.
Soon after the main events, I was wandering over to the stone cabin to see what was up when I heard an accordian from a different bonfire, but that wasn't all -- I also heard some wild, graveley railing and a gypsy-like beat which provoked me to turn around. When I got to the fire I saw that the group of self-described "ragamuffin gypsy punks" who'd been wandering the fair with their pitbull pups were now in fully swing playing oldtime music. What luck! Their performances were marvelous. I caught a bit on the vidicam and uploaded it and took a few pics. They ran with a nifty blend of what I imagine to be Tin Pan Alley, gypsy and rap with some heel-kicking dancing thrown in. Part of their tribe was headed to California in a wild, messy-looking RV.
The next day a standout for me was "Who Hit John" -- a gungho foot-stompin' band. They play hard-drivin' grassy-roots music, also with a touch of tin-pan-alley thrown in on occasion. I like watching their fiddler, a guy who can't stand still, and why should he? I would like to get up and jump around myself, but I'd feel just a TINY bit goofy being the only one. 'Course it might start something. Except I have no idea what I'm doing, so it probably wouldn't be that contagious.
...Which is why I tried a bit of the Appalachian Clogging class. I arrived a few minutes late. Big mistake! I missed out on getting enough practice with the base steps. Actually, my running shoes were all wrong. Then my socks were all wrong, too. Not enough room on the board I was on. But it was wonderful to TRY SOMETHING NEW with the old body. That's my favorite thing. Music simply needs dancing. And it prefers a dance STEP, I think. Random flinging has its place but I always wish I had more of a BASE for the various kinds of music we hear. Especially foot stompin'! I seemed to be the worst student, but I'm not discouraged. I can tell repeated effort is the key. I can tell that I'D GET THERE. Sadly, I've learned dances before -- and then I need to learn them all over again. Well, I've done contra a dozen times now and it's getting easy so I figure if you do anything more than a few times you're good. It's always worth the learning curve. (Now if I could just re-add piano playing or even...gulp...guitar!)
Another standout was when I fittingly spied a huge bullfrog for our kids down in the holler. They're always hard to see even though they're often in front of your nose. I was pleasingly surprised, as always, to see the Keeper of the Swamp Himself.
We had tables for OYB and Lazygal and a rack for the kids' t-shirts. We also lateral over and help with the official merch table.
The whole fit with the fest is a bit loose and nutty, but we try. ("Now, what is this OYB stuff? and how does it relate to music, food and farming?) I like to say that this fest is roots music and food and OYB is roots outdoor culture and skills. Maybe next time I should see what the Kings would think if I presented a focus on bike culture, with a free bike repair class.
Here's a clip featuring most of what seemed like an original song, which I'll call "Blue-Eyed Mermaid"...
Here's a clip of 2 partial songs stuck together:
THE SINGERSONGWRITER FIRE
TWO FROM BILLY
Moonlight Bright As Day: