I’ve never really been a fan of the song “Dancin’ in the Streets,” regardless of who was covering it. The message, however, is something that I can totally get behind, and this issue showcases that more than ever.
It’s the time of year when we pop our heads out into our sunny environs and experience shows and entire weekends of music outside again; a time of year when packing the sunscreen is just as important as packing your pipe, when remembering that rain jacket can make or break your weekend, and when standing around drinking in the sun for hours seems like a really good idea.
For those who have seen past festival guides, this one will cover some familiar territory — I mean, how can we possibly do one of these without covering festivals like Wakarusa, or Telluride Bluegrass or RockyGrass? But this year’s guide, in addition to the “standard” festivals, is chock full of events that we haven’t really acknowledged on these pages in the past.
This year, we are implementing the coverage of what we call “mini-festivals.” The name is actually very wrong, as many of these events are just as big, if not bigger than some of the others that we cover. “Mini” in this case, has nothing to do with actual size, but it’s more of a feeling, more of a down-home kind of event — and even that is mis-leading, at best. So while we may kind of suck at figuring out what to call these festivals, our goal was to show that you don’t need to be camping with wristbands, hundreds of miles from home, to revel in the summer festival spirit. In fact, some of the state’s non-camping festivals, like the multi-staged UMS and Westword Showcase, have more acts than many weekend-long events.
So by all means, dust off the tent, pull the camping chairs out of storage, rinse out the cooler and pack up the car. But know, too, that to find these sounds, you don’t have to go through all of that either. Throw your I.D. in your pocket, and be confident that’s all you need to enjoy some of these other festivals.
Whether you’re going for a huge excursion, or something in your backyard, remember that the most important thing any festivarian can do is to help give to the community that you’re enjoying. You want to cut loose and cast aside the work-day grind? No one will condemn you for that. But if you or your friends are in danger of becoming “that guy” or “that girl,” then you’re missing the point. Festivals aren’t about individuals. It’s about sharing in something as a community, and being a good neighbor is always of paramount importance.
So go, have fun. Get baked and baked by the sun. Let the sounds fill your ears and your spirits, and allow the folks around you to do the same, so that everyone can have a good time.
See you at the shows.