Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Festive Memories and Traditions

One of the reasons I haven't been able to keep up with this blog as much as before is we were busy moving , and in the process I have come across so many photos, mementos, t-shirts, programs, etc from 20+ years of festing... not to mention all the lagniappes people pass out at New Orleans jazz fest. So one thing I was hoping to accomplish with this blog was summarizing these memories in an online format, so much easier to retrieve! But I still have all these boxes of memorabilia which I am trying to condense and consolidate. Maybe a good project for the winter!

One other thing I have been thinking about lately, with all these 40 year anniversary shows about Woodstock on TV, is how lucky we are to have these events to return to year after year. I was not old enough to be aware of the Woodstock festival as it unfolded, but I spent my high school years idolizing some of those great rock icons of the past and wishing I could have been there. This year was also the 40th anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest, which even though I could not attend this year, I can look forward to making it next year. While Woodstock was a one time event, we have several annual festivals, like Jazzfest, GreyFox, Rhythm and Roots, Crawfish Fest, Lowell Folk Fest, and so many others that we can return to year after year. These festivals are not exactly like Woodstock, but they bring together large groups of people with a common spirit, embodying a sense of community and culture - especially the camping fests. Having these annual festivals gives us a chance to reunite with our friends every year, and it also gives the people who organize these festivals a chance to improve upon them year after year. I wonder how many of them were at Woodstock and thought, "Hey I could do better than this! " Looking at some of the experiences of Woodstock makes me appreciate these festivals even more. For example, the first few acts were unable to take the stage on schedule so Richie Havens had to play an extended set and returned to the stage 6 times.... then at the end, Jimi Hendrix, who was supposed to play on Sunday, ended up playng Monday morning to a much depleted crowd. We may take for granted all the work that goes into putting on these events, but seeing that footage of Woodstock makes me appreciate the fact that most of these annual festivals I go to run smoothly and on time despite glitches in weather and performers not being able to make it sometimes. So all we have to worry about usually is choosing where to be at what time - the multi-stage format is another improvement upon Woodstock which, from what I can tell, seemed to take place all on one stage. And we don't have to worry about not having enough food and water. To the contrary, some of the fests, eg., Jazzfest is as much a food-fest as a music fest; and at the camping fests, we bring our own as well as buy from the various vendors. Kudos to all of the organizers for making them happen again and again and giving us something to look forward to, as I am to this weekend's Rhythm and Roots festival. So far the weather forecast is good, and many friends will be attending. Because of this, Labor Day weekend is as festive as any holiday I know. More info here at Rhythm and Roots

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