Boomerfest


 

I have a wicked good idea.

My husband and I just came home from a three day bluegrass and roots music festival in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of North Adams, Massachusetts. It was so much fun!

We were surrounded by an incredible amount of talent performing on four stages and in various spots around the MassMoca art museum. We danced more than we have in what feels like forever! There was also a ton of delicious and varied foods, from pizza to maple donuts to vegan tacos and gourmet grilled cheese.

And so much good beer, wine and all that mood altering deliciousness.

Wow.

This means, of course, that I am writing this blog at 8 pm on Sunday from under the covers of my bed. My sore legs and feet are propped up, there’s an ice pack on my knee, and I’ve taken my Tums and my ibuprofin. My 61 year old body feels like I’ve been in a prize fight.

Music festivals are not for sissies.

So I was thinking.

Given the fact that the original rock and roll generation is getting pretty long in the tooth, maybe these festivals should be geared more for older patrons. I mean, extra spicy bloody Marys are all well and good for all the millennials in the crowd at the Fresh Grass Festival, but what about the rest of us?

So I’ve been thinking. I have decided to put on my own music festival just for us mature types. I shall call it “BOOMERFEST”.

These are my plans so far.

Food:

Last night I got hungry for a little nosh, and I went to one of the food courts. I thought my blood sugar might have been a little low, you know? Just needed a little something to take the edge off and give me energy.

I ended up with an entire plate of sweet potato fries.

At Boomerfest, we’ll still have the pizza, the home made ice cream and the dumplings, but we’ll also offer nice fresh choices. Just to lower the likelihood of one of us keeling over from a heart attack.

Boomerfest will feature an entire food court devoted to fruits, veggies and whole grains! Of course, all the vegetables will be cooked. Raw veggies give us gas.

We’ll have a Tea Truck, too. Some of us like a little mid afternoon pick-me-up. Maybe some nice decaf tea with those little arrowroot cookies. Or some seltzer and a few crackers.

Drink:

We are keeping the Bloody Marys, the mango Mimosas and all the local beers and great wines. We are old, but we are not stupid. Why do you think they call it a “festival”?

So while we’ll have plenty of high quality hooch, we’ll also offer healthier options. I haven’t perfected the prune juice martini yet, but I think it has potential.

Health/First Aide

This is an important topic. Fresh Grass had a big first aid tent and I’m sure it had lots of logical supplies like bandages and ice packs and Narcan, but our place will be a little different.

In addition to the usual supplies, we’re going to stock antacids, laxatives (we’re away from home), denture adhesives and those little pads you can stick on your corns and bunions. We don’t need anything to get in the way of us dancing till we fall over!

Patrons will be encouraged to come in and take a few breaths if they’ve they’ve gotten too close to the stage and all those hot young musicians. Can’t be too careful.

Finally, you know how festivals often set up a fan in front of a hose, so you can get sprayed and cooled off as you go buy? Well, I’m going to set up a device that sprays sun screen down on people from above.

Older women often have thinner hair than they realize. I have had first-hand experience forgetting about my old-lady head on a sunny day and waking up the next morning to Scorched Scalp Syndrome.

And need I mention the older guys who hear one riff of an electric guitars and suddenly forget they aren’t 20 any more? The ones wearing hats won’t even notice the sunscreen spray, but it will save the baldys with the scraggly gray ponytails a boatload of pain on Monday morning.

What do you think?

Anyone want to come to my festival next summer? In the comments below, please leave your suggestions for how to make Boomerfest a safe and exciting time for everyone.

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Sure, these two are young. I gave birth to both of them.

 

Hope


In a world filled with war and anger and violence, hope is becoming so hard to find.

People yell and argue and struggle and sneer. You start to wonder where it will end. You start to wonder if there’s any hope.

Then you go away fro a couple of days. You go to a struggling little working class city where the old red brick mills are being turned into art galleries. You go to hear music.

At first you think the ticket price is too much, but you grudgingly give in. After all, the real reason for your trip is that your sons live in that small city. They love music. They make music of their own. You think its sweet to hear them sing, but you don’t think of them as “real” musicians. You just want to go for the weekend to be near them.

They are just your “boys.”

You buy the tickets. You make the drive out to the Berkshires in Western Mass. You listen to the radio on the way, even though you know that hearing Donald Trump lie and lie and argue and lie again will only make you lose that last tiny thread of hope.

You get to the festival. You walk into the sprawling brick building that once housed a textile mill, but which is now home to the famous Mass Museum of Contemporary Art. You hear fiddle music. People are streaming in, smiling, humming. So many of them carry instruments.

You walk through the lobby, out into the courtyard of the museum. You are surrounded by families, laughing and talking. There are three stages, in three sizes, and from each one you hear the sounds of fiddles and mandolins and guitars. You hear voices harmonizing and feet stomping.

This is the “Fresh Grass” Music festival that happens in the small city of North Adams, Mass, every September.

The air is full of the delicious smells of food, beer, herbal smokes.

Every part of the Fresh Grass Festival is wonderful. Inspiring, encouraging, rejuvenating.

Children dance, parents laugh, there is music around every corner.

And there are particular moments that bring hope back into your heart.

One of those moments happened on Saturday morning. Our sons, our baby boys, were playing music with some friends at one of the “pop up” stages at the festival. Now, let’s be clear. “Pop up” means “You aren’t on one of the big stages and people will either wander by and hear you, or they won’t.” It is strictly for Newbies in the business, but even that is pretty damn special. Some of the headliners at this festival are major talents. Music is their career and they are starts.

Our boys make music for the joy of it.

The space where they performed was a long, rectangular room with lofty ceilings. The acoustics were amazing. Almost like being in a church. The boys and their three friends had acoustic instruments and they started to play to a basically empty gallery. Little by little, though, the soaring harmonies and ringing strings brought people in.

It was the strangest thing for me. People who didn’t know any of us were simply entering the room, having paid good money to hear live music. They stood, they listened, they smiled, clapped, danced. Some asked “Who are you guys?” They talked to each other about how much they were enjoying the sound.

And I was standing there, thinking. “Wait. Those are my baby boys! How did they learn to sing like that?” I can’t describe it.

It wasn’t only pride that I was feeling.It was also a kind of loss.  It was a sense of just how far my children have come, and how they little they need us now. I was as amazed by their talent as the rest of the room was, and that feeling brought me to tears.

And the setting made it special, too.

My beautiful sons and their talented young friends were creating a gorgeous harmony in the big gallery. A gallery that was dedicated to images of atomic bomb tests and explosions.

At one point, a family came in to listen. Two little sisters, aged about 5 and 7, sat on a bench in front of the band. They had flaxen braids, bright blue eyes, and pink and cream skin. They wore matching pink dresses. They were incredibly beautiful. They sat on the bench, each with her mouth slightly open as they nodded along to the music. They were watching the boys. I was watching them.

Beyond them, on the gallery wall, the brightly colored images of death and destruction had been reduced to simple art.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, I had hope again.

Two beautiful children were ignoring the images of war as they took in the sounds of blended voices and instruments.

Maybe they were making some dreams of their own. Maybe they’d want to grow up to make music. They were thinking of those dreams, and not of the mushroom clouds in framed glass beyond where they sat.

That is hope.