Author: Campbell, Bruce

Grass Valley State of Mind

(The author of the following article intends no disrespect towards mothers, Mother's Day or the Parkfild Bluegrass festival this weekend, which will be excellent.)

The Fatherís Day Festival is barely a month away, and I find myself imagining myself there again. Over the past few years, I have settled into a certain routine as to where I camp, and I intend to maintain that habit Ė it makes the initial arrival easier, and it makes it easier to be found by others. I suppose if I didnít want to be found Iíd find a different place to camp, but thatís not the case. I like my yearly neighbors, too.

I already know what Iíll do when I get there. Iíll arrive and I will not be able to relax or socialize until Iíve defined my ďspaceĒ Ė whatever that will be. Some years, itís just as EZ-Up and a couple of chairs next to my truck. Other times, Iíve pitched a tent. Regardless, whether Iím camping at Grass Valley or backpacking in the Sierras, I canít relax until Iíve defined my home space.

The next thing Iíll do is grab a cold adult beverage and stroll the grounds, to see who I can see. This is one of the sweetest times in the weekend. The possibilities of the weekend lay ahead, and itís great to be done driving and starting the whole Grass Valley experience. Iíll see a lot of folks I see pretty regularly, and theyíll be a little different than they normally are Ė theyíll be in Grass Valley Mode.

After the initial walkthrough, itíll be time to start prowling for a jam. It could be anybody. It might be some old familiar friends, or it may be some folks I barely know, or friends I have yet to meet. It might be a Jam for the Ages, or it could be awkward and tentative. Thereís just no telling, and thatís just fine with me.

The day will slowly turn towards dusk, and Iíll start thinking of dinner and catching some of the shows. Some folks jam a lot and barely see ANY shows, and some folks hardly ever rise from their lawn chairs, preferring not to miss a minute of the action on the Big Stage. I hate to miss any of it, so Iím constantly torn Ė am I missing a jam? Am I missing the act that everyone says I shouldnít miss? In the end, I play it by ear, if I may use a musical metaphor.

Once the sun goes down, the choices get even harder. The acts onstage are top notch, and the evening jamming is where the most magic seems to occur. The jams that you talk about for years afterwards, almost always seem to occur after dark Ė sometimes right before sunup. Itís kind of like those native American rituals, those rites of passage where the young brave endures hours of rigorous physical exertions to get in touch with the mystical side, and gain true insights. The same is true of marathon late night jams. At some point, you stop playing with your head, and your heart takes over. And those are the moments I am eagerly anticipating. See you there!
Posted:  5/5/2010

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