After days of packing and preparations, I was starting to wonder if sometimes it is too much trouble to have so much fun. But once I arrived on the Hill, I knew that all the preparations were so totally worth it -GreyFox was a beautiful relaxing time. There was only a little bit of rain the first day, which magically ended just as the music started at 2pm on Thursday - and then the weather was gorgeous the rest of the weekend, sunny and dry, not too hot.
As a volunteer I can go a day early, so I arrived on the Tuesday before, set up camp on the hill, then went to hang out at the bottom with friends who had been there for a whole week, just camping and picking and having a good time - but they were like #150 "in line", and there were some who had been there a month or more! My volunteer job is in the info booth, located very close to the main stage, so I get to hand out programs and talk to people all day, and still hear the music while working - it is really fun. (Volunteers have to work a few hours a day anyway).
Nickel Creek played Friday night, but were a bit too mellow as a closing act - it was freezing up on that hill! Mountain Heart, who played just before them, and blew us away as usual, might have been a better choice to end the night on an up-note. Sam Bush Band was excellent on Saturday night, playing 'til nearly 2 am. And there were so many new, relatively young bands like the Duhks, the Incredible Stringdusters, Crooked Still, Waybacks, Uncle Earl, Nickel Creek, the Wilders, Mountain Heart. It was high energy all weekend. One of the best jams I heard all weekend was in the campgrounds, with members of many of the younger bands, plus fiddler Casey Driesen, all playing after hours near Uncle Earl's campsite.
On Saturday night I brought my accordion by my friends' campsite & elsewhere for some jams, but I got tired of lugging it around, so I left it behind while I journeyed to the top of the hill to listen to others picking.... and wouldn't you know I missed out on a real Cajun jam that was taking place just steps from our campsite! I heard from Joe the next day that Jesse Lege and the Redstick Ramblers were tearing it up over there til the wee hours! oh well, I'll just have to catch 'em at Rhythm and Roots.
I have been going to this festival since '92, Winterhawk X. Well, it is still the same in a lot of ways, the same great vibe and atmosphere, and of course the music, and picking, but some things have changed - they've added more musical diverstiy, including a dance pavillion, where people can cut loose to the likes of the RedStick Ramblers, the Waybacks, the Duhks... and they had yoga every morning, which I did and enjoyed very much. It was like being at a bluegrass spa! Especially since they also had massage therapists backstage for staff and performers. They had tie-dying in the childrens' area that I was able to participate in, and they have a bus to take you to Taconic state park during the day if you want so you don't have to drive up and down the hill. They are always trying to improve upon it. This year they have added a farmers' market with locally grown produce and organic meats and dairy products. It is really a unique festival, like a city on the hill. As Ron Thomason( Dry Branch Fire Squad, the "host" band every year) put it, a temporary community that forms every July, a wonderful celebration