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Hippie Music Festivals

I've never been to a music festival before, so when I got to SmileFest in a few weeks, it'll be my first. SmileFest first came to my attention earlier this year, when I saw that The Derek Trucks Band was going to be playing one of the nights. If you read my blog and don't know that I'm a dTb fan, you're not really reading my blog. I've always had more than a passing interest in going to a festival of some sort, so with SmileFest being close and The Derek Trucks Band being one of the acts, I figured this would be a good one to check out. It's smaller than a lot of festivals, and since I'm not a big fan of crowds (OK, crowds can make me very uncomfortable.), I've been looking forward to this as an introduction to the festival scene.

As part of getting ready for the festival, I've been spending some time going through the SmileFest website, especially the forums. Now, I've had no delusions about this festival -- I know that festivals in general, and the acts that are scheduled for this one in particular, often very much cater to the "hippie" crowd. Except for an appreciation for the same kind of music, there's very little I have in common with the stereotypical hippie. A case can be made that I don't even share the appreciation for the same kind of music, since apparently much of the appreciation or enhanced appreciation for this kind of music stems from drug use. I've never smoked pot or done anything like that, so I don't share the same kind of appreciation for the music that many of the fans do. Regardless, good music is good music and I dig a lot of music that gets thrown in to the "hippie" category. But so much of hippie culture seems to center around drug use.

And that's where I get uncomfortable. I'm a real "law & order" kind of guy. I don't like being in concerts or at parties where people are sneaking around to do their drugs. As far as the drug issue goes, I'm pretty much libertarian -- I think the government is sticking its nose where it ought not be and I'd be in favor of most (all?) drug use decriminalized. If that happened, would I try out some of the drugs? Probably not. Alcohol's legal as it is now, and I don't drink. But I'd be happy for the people who would like to (responsibly) enjoy their drugs to be able to do so legally. But, instead, there's always the "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" kind of thing going around.

So, anyway, I'm getting ready for SmileFest by reading through posts in the forum. And the hippie nature of the festival is really starting to sink in. Everyone seems excited and it shows in the enthusiasm in their forum posts. There was a post about security at past festivals and the ideal of "everyone loves and respects everyone else" was demonstrated when someone wrote about how he accidentally left his $700 camera out in the open on a picnic table for over an hour while he went somewhere else, and it was still there when he got back. There was also a report of someone having his banjo stolen from his tent last year. *shrug* Sounds like common sense should prevail. And then there were the several posts about how to get away with doing illegal things, seeming to focus around illegal drug use. Again, there was a lot of "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" as various people posted questions about how to be able to avoid the law while engaging in illegal activities. Responses really simmered around fostering an "us against them" mentality. That's not really the kind of environment I enjoy being in, especially since I tend to fall in the "them" category.

And I really hope that political speech can be kept to a minimum, especially from the performers. My politics are typically very much in opposition with the politics of most of the performers and most of the people I expect to be in attendance. I just want to listen to the music, I don't want to try to be persuaded away from my conservative politics. And I don't want to try to change other people's minds about politics, either. This is a music festival, not a political rally, and I hope that there's more music than politics.

Oh, well. It's a weekend long festival centered around hippie music. I shouldn't be surprised that it attracts a lot of hippies. The facility is big enough that we should all be able to get along and enjoy the music, which is what it's really all about.

Wow, re-reading this blog entry, I'm struck by how "surface-level" it is. Oh, well, I'm not going to change it, 'cause I really don't care too deeply about a lot of the stuff I was complaining about, so I'm not going to bother to try to create a good, solid argument defending my position. I'm going to make chili instead.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2004 08:54 pm (UTC)
I went to a bluegrass festival earlier this year and I was terrified that it would be a political platform, but it was really nice and peaceful, hippies and rednecks just having fun. They had a sign up saying "Festivals are for fun, not politics".

Hopefully smilefest will be that way
Jul. 5th, 2004 05:04 pm (UTC)
My "first midlife crisis" was a music fest
I was a medic working the main stage at Woodstock 94.

Standing within 10 feet of the main speaker tower. Sat on the stage while TRaffic was on.

3:30 am or so .. Aerosmith --- followed by fireworks.

got there early Thursday --- left mid-day Monday... 15hr sleep... didn't want to miss anything

Jul. 5th, 2004 05:17 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty much like you in regards to music and hippies. I attended Smilefest 2 or 3 years ago and had a great time. I was introduced to some great music like Karl Denson and it was a really good vibe there, people were very friendly, best time I had all summer. My favorite set that year had to have been Sam Bush. Bela, Jeff and quite a few others sat in with him. Other than Sam's Carolina shirt, it was a fantastic set.
I brought my acoustic and jammed on a guy that played on a small homemade fiddle, it was a jam to remember. I was playing the Beatles' Michelle and he was jamming along while Bela Fleck and Victor Wooten walked by. Pretty surreal. If you have a tent by the road, you'll see a lot of the musicians casually walk around.
With all that said, I'm not sure if I'm going but I'd like to.
Jul. 19th, 2004 02:48 pm (UTC)
Still thinking about coming?
Jul. 20th, 2004 02:45 am (UTC)
Doubt I'll be able to come. If they sold just one day tickets like in the past, I think I'd come Friday. I hate thinking I'm gonna miss dTb though.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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