Old Hippiedom-All the Way
People came from all over Northern California, and points beyond, this past weekend, to join in this year’s Kate Wolf Festival, at the Black Oak Ranch, better known as the Hog Farm, just five miles north of Laytonville. Since its inception, in 2001, this festival, held annually around the end of June, has gained in popularity, and hence its attraction, both for the performers, and for those who come to enjoy the music.
Because there is just too much to talk about, and so much of it is good, I will break up my report into several installments, the first one covering the events of Friday, June 28th, and Annie's and my appearance, beginning in the late afternoon, when we rolled in about five o’clock, and met up with Amber and Casey at their campsite.
The “campsite” is probably not that much different from any other that I have stayed in, being located in the shade of the great oak trees, and allowing one to get out of the heat of the blistering late June sunshine. But there, all similarities end. The “campsites” were not individual in nature, instead being a mass-campout, with no barriers, and nothing to distinguish one “campsite” from another.
I am famous for wanting to camp, but in my own campsite, with appropriate boundaries, and an invisible line so that others know that this is MY camping site. Never gonna happen at Kate Wolf. At least, not in the traditional way. If you wanted to camp, and you wanted to be within reasonable walking distance from the music and food, you were kind of stuck. Now, I did see some campsites, out in the general parking area, which indicated that there are others who feel as I do: that camping elbow to elbow, and sleeping within a mass of packed-in-humanity, can be challenging at best, and disastrous, at worst.
Because Annie and I had long since decided to commute back and forth from home, this was not an issue. However, we still wanted to be able to chill at times with Casey, Amber, and the slew of Bell Springers, that had made the trek to the festival, so we stopped in first thing, and brought along a table, which I hauled in. We then made our way to the closest performing venue, the Arlo Stage, where we quickly settled in for some rousing music, performed by Red Molly, while keeping an eye out for niece Isabel, who was rumored to be doing the sound for the Arlo stage, the whole three-day festival. It was comfortable, without any pretenses, and we were able to take in the scenery around us, while enjoying the music.
The most interesting element of the audience, is that this festival is not geared to young folk; rather, it is old hippiedom all the way. It’s no secret that the Hog Farm has been around since the days of the Merry Pranksters, and that old gray-haired icon of the Hog farm, Wavy Gravy, is the one who appears fairly frequently on stage to help disseminate information that helps keep logistics to a minimum. What was truly amazing, is that old folks were in the majority, and no one seemed to notice. I was just another of thousands of graybeards, trying to get comfortable, sitting on the ground, and finally falling back [literally] on a folding kitchen chair, that if placed appropriately, did not block anyone’s view. I just can’t sit on the ground for more than a few minutes, anymore, without hurting something, somewhere. I ain’t complaining-just telling it like it is.
Anytime we walked into one of the stage areas, we were asked if we had any alcohol or glass, and we always looked the questioners directly in the eyes, and lied. Actually, I never consumed one drop of alcohol, the whole three days, so that would not have been an issue in the first place, but my sweetest of Apple Blossoms, does enjoy a glass of wine with her music, so I wanted to make sure she did not have to spend seven dollars per glass, for some Cabernet, served in a little plastic glass. After all, they weren’t worried about us drinking wine; they were just worried that they were not the ones selling it to us.
I had a nice twelve-ounce plastic water bottle, filled with Annie’s choice of wine, which fit nicely into the large pocket, of my cargo shorts. Therefore, when the nice man or woman would ask me each time, if there was any alcohol or glass in my carry-around bag, I could honestly say, no. After all, it was not in my bag; it was in my pocket.
After Red Molly was done with their set, we ambled over to the Bowl, where the main stage was set out, along with vast unlimited booths, both for food and artistic goods, and got our bearings. Here was where John Prine would play, on Sunday night, as the festival closed down, but now it was only Friday night, and there was much to take in.
Having struggled in the past, with this type of venue, I was thrilled to be there in comfortable surroundings, encountering countless old friends and new, reveling in the music and the fact that I was with Annie, as we celebrated this event, with the tickets she had received for her birthday, from our three sons. I couldn’t imagine a better gift, nor a better way to celebrate Annie’s birthday, than this environment known as the Hog Farm. Luckily, Annie invited me to accompany her, and I could not have been more happy. What a nice lady she is!
Next up: Saturday