Author: Campbell, Bruce

Cuckoo for Goofy
This weekend is the Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival, also known as GOF, also known as “Goofy”. The good folks who put on this festival would like the latter moniker to fall out of favor, but I doubt that will happen. “Good Old Fashioned” is too long for quick conversation (and texting!), “GOF” sounds too much “Goth” - - so Goofy it will likely stay.

Whatever you call it, it’s a very special festival. It’ll be 15 years old this weekend, and I’ve only been to last the 5 or 6. I was warned to expect unbearable heat, but I haven’t encountered that – it can be hot, yes, but the nights always seemed cool enough.

Good Old Fashioned does not feature “Big Name” touring acts, but I have seen many memorable performances there. I have seen killer sets by Lone Prairie, Dark Hollow, Stay Tuned, the Barefoot Nellies and many others. The sound was great (Paul Knight – you are the man!) and everyone in the audience shared those special moments.

It’s one of the first festivals I ever played at, and certainly my first experience with an attentive, enthusiastic audience who seemed to know the band’s songs better than I did. It was also my first time encountering true pro sound on a stage, where every note and sound we made was placed precisely into our ears like a friendly whisper. It’s hard to exaggerate how wonderful that is – I never realized how much time onstage is spent wondering if you’re hitting the right notes. The difference between waiting for an echo off something versus getting the sound piped right to your ears – incredible.

Good Old Fashioned is where I first met my wonderful friend Patti Garber, and we jammed all night. Some of my most memorable jams have been at GOF. I can rattle off great memories of this festival as bullet points:

-Picking by lantern light with Pete Hicks and Chris Smith. It was challenging and exhilarating.

-Meeting, hanging out with, and jamming with Tom Tworek, and looking over his shoulder backstage as he went through the photos he had taken just minutes before.

-Hearing a Bluegrass version of Elton John’s “Honky Cat” at a late night jam

-Rick Cornish, tie die tank top and all, emerging from the shadows with his fiddle, then giving me a kiss on the cheek before joining the jam

-Getting the chance to play a completely unexpected set on Sunday morning when a scheduled band failed to show (it just so happened that the members of the Alhambra Valley Band were there.)

-Playing in the radio tent, despite the blisters raised by jamming all night

-Nearly choking on a dried out old veggie burger backstage (my advice – stick to the hot dogs and REAL hamburgers)

-An impromptu musical performance by Dan Large in the men’s room that I can only relate to you in person – it cracks me up just thinking about it.

I could go on and on. And every time I go to Good Old Fashioned, I can add to this list. If you’ve been to GOF, you have your own list. If you haven’t been, you really should go. After all, it’s a goofy good time!
Posted:  8/6/2008

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