Paul and I spent the past couple of days at a fabulous music festival. It’s called the Green River Festival, and it’s held in nearby Greenfield, Mass.
Like most folk, Americana, bluegrass, blues and jazz festivals, this one was full of delicious and overpriced food trucks, multiple stages and adorable little kids in tie-dyed shirts.
It was also full of so much talent that my brain is practically melting. I mean, seriously. Every time I think I’ve found the most outstandingly talented young performer, I’m blown away by another one.
I love these festivals so much. Everyone is happy, and not just because of the beer and the ginger libations (holy deliciousness). People are open to each other at these events. Old gray beards in button down shirts grin at young guys in dreadlocks while waiting in line for a ten dollar burrito. The bored cops at the entrance exchange smiles with exuberant toddlers.
We all just want to kick back, enjoy being outdoors, and listen to some fun music. We want to let go of things. Let go of jobs and bills and stupid damn social media and politics.
I love the letting go, even though today I chose to wear my Bernie Sanders shirt. It has the words “Medicare for all” on the front and “Bernie” on the sleeve. I might as well just tattoo “Lefty” on my forehead.
But it was all cool for a while. Until suddenly it wasn’t.
We were sitting in folding chairs inside of a sweltering tent. Everyone was packed in like the proverbial sardines. There was one open seat between me and the woman to my left.
A man approached and asked if the seat was open. I nodded and smiled, and then saw that he was wearing a bright red “Make America Great Again” shirt.
I looked at my husband and frowned. “I can’t sit here!” I hissed. I’ll be honest; I knew, deep in my gut, that this guy must be a jerk. He’d have to be!
But then the music started. Ali McGuirk and Session Americana took off and swept us up. The MAGA man and I were bobbing our heads, tapping our feet and clapping. “Wow!” I said after the first song. I turned to my neighbor. “Have you heard them before?”
And we started chatting. I was blown away by the vocal skills of Ms. McGuirk, but he was all about the seamless sounds of the harmonica, clarinet and accordion. “Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to merge all those instruments?!”
It turns out that the guy is a musician. He plays the accordion himself, telling me that he plays mostly blues. We talked about bands we like, and it turns out that we have some mutual acquaintances in the local music scene.
Politics never came up. Good for both of us.
After the set came to an end, we looked at each other and smiled. “Enjoy the rest of the festival,” he said. “Nice to meet you!” I replied.
And you know what?