Monday, May 4, 2009
Just returned from spending some time this weekend in the mountains west of Asheville, where I attended the French Broad River Festival. Words shall soon be created that will succinctly describe the aforementioned experience. When that miraculous birth of what can only questionably be called literature does in fact occur, the letter combinations will be applied to the screen in a way that shall without a doubt cause hilarity to ensue.
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As mentioned previously, I did in fact meander in the direction of the great white north this weekend past. I can't say I planned to attend originally. My brother and father were going there, along with their significant others and a group of friends. I, alas, was scheduled to work and unable to make the trip. That is, of course, before fate intervened and my boss decided my services were unnecessary that particular Friday evening.
I couldn't pass up the chance to spend some time with good folks amidst the great outdoors, so I packed up the car and hopped on the highway.
The French Broad River Festival takes place annually in the rural hamlet of Hot Springs, North Carolina, about forty miles or so west of Asheville. The scenery I passed on the drive in was amazing to behold, the mist drifting through valleys carved through millions of years of erosion (or twenty years if you are Baptist). The steep mountain roads twisted and turned, bringing a fresh glimpse of verdant beauty at each corner. My ancient vehicle, a Toyota Camry that was used to haul coal during the first World War, was unhappy about the whole scenario, but plodded onward as the loyal companion she has always been.
The campground was full of vegans, deadheads, and other assorted hippies in the middle of getting their nature on when I made my arrival. My brother, aware of my keen ability to get lost, dazed, and confused, often simultaneously, was waiting for me at the gate and helped me register for the event before showing me to our campsite, which was conveniently located right across from the Portolets.
Trust me, when you wake up having to whizz like a race horse in the middle of the night because of the previous night's debauchery that comes in mighty handy - especially when (hypothetically speaking of course) it takes you twenty minutes to figure out how to open the zipper on your tent.
Since this was a festival there were various forms of entertainment involved. Just like with any other festival it was raining most of the time so that the hippies could get properly muddy. They must have to truck in the mud for Burning Man since it takes place in the desert.
The activities taking place included neon hula hoop dancing chicks, some guy shooting flames in the air with a propane tank device, whitewater rafting, and a mountain bike race. A series of bands also attacked from all sides with two stages dedicated to making maniacal melodies until mountains and minds melded into a mystical musical melange.
Acoustic Syndicate was the main draw on Friday night, rattling out their anthems well into the wee hours. These professional rockers acquitted themselves quite well, even if the sixty-five minute closing number may have worn out its welcome a wee bit.
Note to jam bands: I understand if you want to write long songs and avoid the four minute pop recipe garbage that others adhere to, but consider at least ending your tunes before the audience members die of old age.
Our clownish clique was much happier hanging out at the side stage, where the Mad Tea Party performed a danceable mix of rockabilly and zydeco that created a delicious instrumental gumbo best washed down with a tall glass of Abita. The stage was decorated with a skull and various bits of voodoo imagery, and soon I was craving a beignet for dessert. My family and friends gallivanted about like fairies and nymphs freed from the chains of society to revel in the joys of nature and music.
As I bounced about in this near meditative state, I wondered, how can you not be happy away from the daily grind? What's wrong with a chance to flee the various sad people who want to run your life? Nature is the great escape from all those things that drag us down on a daily basis - rent, bosses, car payments, mortgages, etc. What can be better than a place like that? Especially when there is always a conveniently located bathroom with no line.