Friday, January 23, 2015

Boogie (Half-way) Down!

            What happened to my generation?  We joyfully danced in the mud at Woodstock and in the street with Martha and the Vandellas.  I hope we’re not getting stodgy and leaving all the fun for the younger music lovers.  There are plenty of chances within a half day’s drive of Charleston to jump back into the conga line.  Heck, we may even enjoy it more than we used to.  Age does have its advantages.  For example:   
  1. We don’t have to sleep on the ground, in the rain.  We’re totally comfortable insisting that comfort matters. At the Lake Eden Arts Festival in North Carolina you can make a pot of coffee and sip it on your bunkhouse porch as you listen to the music begin down the hillside.  At The Spirit of Suwannee Music Fest in Live Oak Florida you can even buy a park cabin to stay in. Or get really comfy at a B&B like Virginia’s Ambrosia Farms where breakfast comes right from the garden and Floydfest is just up the road.    
  2. Or we can sleep on the ground in the rain but not hassle with setting up. Strap your gear to a wagon and slide it onto the nifty trailer pulled by the shuttle buses at Floydfest.  They’ll dropyou right off at the campground ready to go.  Or drive your RV and make new friends.  Or check out any of the 8 Southeastern festivals where Dancin’ Dave’s Festival Camping “takes the rough out of roughing it” by setting up a first class campsite including everything from tents to portable showers. 
  3.  We can pay to play now. We may have been hippies or yippies or yuppies.    But now we can be VIP’s.  Ante up to sit on the stage, share a toast with the performers, get special parking, check in early and enjoy the swag of privilege.  Floydfest’s high rollers get benefits ranging from fully catered meals and bar to backstage massages.  At the Hangout Festival in Alabama, VIP’s can even enjoy the music from a stage-side hot tub.   We’re big shots now. We earned it.

4.  We invented “get your freak on”.  We embarrassed our children for decades and furthermore we’re old enough to not care what anyone thinks of us.  What’s in the back of your closet?  Tie-dye, gauze skirts, kilts and a belly-dance outfit? Glitter?  Feathers?  Why not?  Now post that photo on your Facebook page and tag your kids.
5.  It’s not just about the music.  There’s kayaking and fun runs, stand-up paddle boarding and bungee jumps, journaling and slam poetry, craft making and yoga. And that’s just what’s offered through many festivals.  Nearby there are fine restaurants, antique shopping, historic sights and wineries.  Explore, take a breather.  No one’s the boss of you.
6.  We've been there and done that so we know that the best moments at festivals are not always among the hordes. At the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival where the crowds at the headliner stage are the size of our hometown populations, we escape.  A few steps away, in the smaller tents, transcendent musical moments await.  Or we pick a smaller festival to begin with, like MerleFest in Wilkesboro, N.C. We can see Bruce Springsteen better on TV anyhow.
7.  We have an app for that.  We may have learned from our kids but now we’re adept at downloading the schedules to our cellphones, using Youtube to plan the bands to catch and buying music online afterwards.  We help each other by sharing earplugs and giving advice  such as the wife in front of Floydfest’s main stage that was overheard telling her husband, “You might want to take out your hearing aid for this band honey, it looks like it will be a little loud”.
8.  “Be Here Now” is our generation’s motto.  We know where the off-switch is on our phones.  We don’t watch the world through a viewfinder.  We don’t need to tweet, text and tantalize our friends.  Hush; be still, we’re listening to the music.
9.  We have more fun when we’re not vomiting.  We were young too.  We have a repertoire of stories of stupid things we did while we were high or drunk.  But now we have the wisdom gained from experience.  We calibrate our intakes for maximum enjoyment.
10.  We’re like Buddy Guy.  Many of our musical heroes crashed and burned early, leaving only their nascent music behind.  Then there are the ones who we’ve grown older with. They’re the soundtrack of our lives. Our own dance party.  When Buddy Guy sings, “I’m 74 years young and I still know how to have my fun” we aren’t  too shy to shout “right on”.
If You Go:
Find a festival and go at