Red-Eyed Harvest 2

More stuff from the Harvest Music Festival

The laws of common sense apply, or try to apply, at something like the Harvest Music Festival. The security people, for example, were about as level-headed a group as you’d expect under these circumstances – patient, attentive for the most part, with more than 5,000 people (many of them drunk and/or stoned) to look after. It’s a ridiculous task for anyone.

One security woman told me they were less worried about marijuana than they were about alcohol – “no one gets into trouble with marijuana, but some people get really ugly when they’ve been drinking.” We didn’t get into the nitrous oxide discussion.

There always is a sense of community at these things, friendships made within tent cities and among RV campers, and usually pretty much everyone behaves, adhering to the “live and let live and love they neighbor” rule book. This festival community was so well behaved that Yonder Mountain String Band’s frontman/mandolin player Jeff Austin told the crowd during Saturday night’s mainstage finale, “thank you for taking care of each other.”

But it was impossible not to be surrounded by people on different planes of semi-consciousness. Still, I didn’t see any out-of-hand shenanigans. Even the one gun-shaped object that I know I saw (an RV camper) was probably just a smoking implement.

The most dangerous weapons at the festival? Flailing elbows — people waving their arms as they danced, doing the ‘chase-the-bees-from-my-head’ and other patented moves that grew out of the Deadhead repertoire. And even then, people were looking out for each other – heard a lot of “sorry dude,” when someone ran into me while dancing. No harm, no foul, we’re just sharing space.

•••

Got to see Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, which is only three people, but they’re not little people. Josh (The Reverend) Peyton has a beard and look that reminds you of Popeye’s arch-enemy, Bluto.

He makes a lot of faces and gestures on stage while playing boisterous, balls-to-the-wall country blues, and his wife Breezy is very animated on the washboard, and the dummer, Aaron “Cuz” Persinger has a bucket filled with drumming stuff.

They are a colorful trio, to say the least, demanding of your attention. Reverend cajoles and insists that the audience participate, suggesting, “raise your fists in the air, people always sing better with their fists in the air. It’s a scientific fact, there have been studies.”

•••

Friday night at camp: It was around 3 a.m. Zach, Jimmy and I had been talking for a few minutes and were headed to our respective holes for the night, Zach and me had tents, Jimmy was sleeping in the car, except he locked his keys in the car, in the ignition, with the radio on, sucking on the battery.

Zach went to one of our neighboring campers, some punk-hippy hybrids, to borrow a coat hangar.

It took three of us to unlock the damn thing. Zach and I took turns with the flashlight, while the other tried to pry open the rubber door lining and Jimmy finagled first one hangar, then another (because he dropped the first one inside the car). This is one of those lock buttons built into the door panel, so Jimmy the contortionist had to distort the hangars in multiple ways before finally finding the one-in-a-thousand leverage point.

Got to sleep around 4. Awake by 9-ish, I was drawn to the mainstage with just a handful of other zombies by the sound of a banjo being played the way no other banjo has been played – it was Bela Fleck and the Flecktones doing a sound-check for that night’s show.

More later.

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