After a month and a half of dreary days the rain ceased falling in time for the first weekend of May. The sunshine was welcomed with open arms as New York tried to shake itself dry for a few days at least. In Newfield, New York, just outside of Ithaca, Triptime Entertainment worked to prepare everything for one of the early festivals of the season.
The ground was soggy after fighting to dissipate weeks of almost constant rain with hail occasionally mixed in to keep us on our toes. We parked the car and I trod delicately through the wide open, gently sweeping descent to stand before a massive stage that looked well used. The wooden structure was large enough to fit an orchestra, the roof defending against the weather thirty feet above. A peace sign wrapped in Christmas lights hanging high upon the rear wall completed the decor.
Realization that we were the second group there, one of the food vendors had beaten us, made us wonder for a moment. It was Thursday night. We’d struck a deal over the phone in Colorado on our way to deal with the corruption that is the state of Nevada. After hightailing it out of that nuclear wasteland we’d managed to make it home in three days, our poor four month old screaming the last six hours after a week in the car.
As the first it fell to us to steer the direction of the vendor area. Plans had been made for a large number of food vendors and while the venue was great a large amount of space was occupied by RVs and trailers that were paid locations for the summer. With the prime real estate filled we set up beside the stage and a bit behind. The rest of the evening was spent helping the crew from Jabberwock, a local shop from Ithaca, erect their tent and relaxing.
Our space assembled, fliers folded and stickers cut from their rolls we awaited the music and throngs of people coming to their fest as Friday dawned with blue skies and sunshine. The sound crew rolled in early, unloading and lugging the speakers onto the stage before wiring and sound checks ensued. A half dozen vendors had appeared over night and while the line was far from full, a fair number of food vendors had set up as well.
Rebel Fire was one of the first acts to perform once the music finally got rolling sometime after noon. A band from Ithaca, their sound is driven by their reggae roots with bits and pieces from a dozen other genres bending into their hooks and melodies. Mellow, instruments melding smoothly into each other, their music drifted off the stage and out over the grass in the sunshine. Frontwoman Christina Barry’s keyboard and lyrics drive Rebel Fire, focusing on the issues that are debilitating this state and nation.
After a year of fighting the possibility of hydraulic fracturing in New York it was encouraging to here Barry take a moment to speak about the dangers posed by poisoning our water for energy. Her statements prefaced their song “The Energy Inside.” Their reggae beat flowing beneath the lyrics they spoke about the “fractitious story” that is being sold to Americans. “Destruction for money, destruction as ambition. Big business philosophy built on lies and deception.” Barry’s singing succinctly stated the facts. The drilling isn’t about helping anyone, it’s about profits at the expense of our future. You can listen to the song here.
The weather held but the one question everyone kept asking was ‘where are the people?’ A great venue, beautiful weather and awesome music filled the day but the turnout was unfortunately small for something that had been put together so well. The General, head of Triptime Entertainment, was constantly moving around the scene, making sure everything was running smoothly as the bands rolled in and out. Despite everyone’s positive attitude it was quickly becoming apparent that maybe no one was going to come out.
While the venue was great scattered throughout the campground were trailers, RVs, and campers, parked in primed real estate. The campground rented the spaces out to them for the beautiful summers months around Ithaca and while those in attendance didn’t feel unwelcome it was clear that not everyone was thrilled with what was going on. Some even went so far as to rope themselves off from all the riffraff that was mucking about, as seen below. Our electricity even got pulled at one point because one RV owner had a temper tantrum.
As the sun set and darkness began to creep in the music continued. Moving between the main stage and an inside space complete with seating and dance floor, the sound was uninterrupted late into the cold spring evening. Michael Glabicki, of Rusted Root fame, headlined the evening outside before everything moved indoors for the remainder. A group of local spinners were also on hand. A mixture of styles and instruments helped lend some illumination to everyone’s experience.
Saturday dawned bright and clear once again, sunlight pushing the chill away as our four month old woke us up, looking between the two of us as she clearly stated her argument for being fed. The fire was still smoldering next to our site where the drum circle had kept the silence at bay early into the morning hours. Fasts were broken as the music, and hopefully some people, were awaited.
Amara Steinkraus helped wipe the cobwebs away as the local group Mutsu brought their funky brand of the blues to the big stage. A four piece with their lead singer providing percussion at times, Steinkraus’ confiding voice ranging around the band’s musical concoction of blues, rock and old school funk.
My Best Fest is an online resource putting together as much information about the far flung festival scene in these united states that they can gobble up. Along with providing knowledge to the denizens of Erf’s information superhighway their crack team travels about, helping gather and analyze the scribed thoughts and reactions of the populace to bring insight and further success to the parties that organize the parties. Check them out here.
Love in Stockholm showed up in the afternoon. They’d been listed the previous night on the schedule and everyone was a little confused but glad they’d made the appearance. Camping across from the driveway to the stage had its benefits.
The music contained as the Little Mountain Band and Emily Arin kept the stage alive. The afternoon wore on without many more participants arriving to enjoy the vibrations. The sun kept shining and everyone made the best of things. Love in Stockholm stopped by My Best Fest and learned about their product. Things went so well collaboration ensued with a commercial for festival warmed Four Loko. “It tastes like cat piss… and it contains enough caffeine, taurine and guarine to keep you totally wasted and up for the next eighteen hours… no 2:30 crash until three days later.” Lucky for all of us something this terrible was invented. Thanks guys.
Love in Stockholm raged the stage that night, the Boston based ensemble bringing an enormous amount of energy to a mostly empty field. It was wonderfully refreshing in the difference between the mainly mellow acts that typically make up smaller festival lineups. Horns rose over the funky lines of guitar and bass backed by keyboards. Climbing above the rock ‘n soul were Charlie Rockwell’s power packed vocals. It was quickly apparent why they enjoy a growing following and place in the tradition of American rock and roll.
The evening and festivities were finished indoors with Dead tunes. By the time the sun came up many had already left and the rest were packing. Everyone agreed the music had been great and the only shame was that there were so few people to enjoy it. We dropped our tent and started loading the car as Mother’s Day rolled on. The People’s Fest had been great, next time there just needs to be more people.
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