Sunday, May 20, 2018

Far out, man

Back in 1969, the closest I ever got to Woodstock was to think about it. I mean, I was 18 years old at the time, fresh out of high school, and the idea of going to a live, outdoor music festival with 100,000 like-minded people was compelling. I lived in Pennsylvania at the time, and Yazgur's farm was only a couple of hours away.

But I never went. Although I was pretty much immersed in the hippie lifestyle at the time (or so I thought – I had shoulder-length hair and wore bell-bottom jeans with button flies), I couldn't quite bring myself to go.

Me graduating from Hippie College, 1973. Note hair.
 It was just as well. As it turned out, more than 400,000 people showed up to sleep in their cars, or on beds of straw, sometimes in the rain, hiking miles through impossible traffic jams to listen to great music. I would have been eaten alive.

 But all these years later, I still carry a tinge of regret for missing out on a definitive (and reachable) moment of popular culture for my generation.

Until yesterday, that is, when Kim and I went to Hippie Fest at the Rowan County Fairgrounds in Salisbury.

All right, all right. Please contain the giggles. Instead of 400,000  people, there might have been 4,000. Great music was performed by people you never heard of. Plenty of people who were in their 60's and 70s strolled the grounds, popping into boutique tents to consider buying love beads, mood rings or tie-dyed T-shirts in an effort to recapture a faded past – or lost regrets.

Flower power...
 There was some cool stuff to see, including about 20-25 iconic VW Beetles and buses. One guy was selling electric guitars he made out of gas cans (or anything else he could find). Going Up Country, I guess.

There were performers on stilts; a bubble machine kept the kids mesmerized (me, too, for that matter); food trucks scented the air with grilled onions and funnel cakes, thus taking on something of a Barbecue Festival atmosphere (Food trucks, I'm sure, would have been greatly welcomed at Woodstock).

There was a small performance stage where musicians who were not even gleams in their yet-to-be parents' eyes back in 1969 sang songs from the era, and that was cool. Made me think there was some legacy being passed on, even if it was on a small plot of muddy grass in Salisbury.

Bailey Rogers belts out 'Me and Bobby McGee.' Wow.
 (Side note: I took a picture of the stage, not knowing that former Lexington resident Bailey Rogers was performing an a cappella version of "Me and Bobby McGee" at the time. She was fantastic. We'd just met her several weeks earlier when her family was in town to visit friends in our neighborhood. We had no clue she had this kind of talent. Like, wow, man).

And speaking of muddy grass, I have to point out there was no hint of reefer to be sniffed anywhere, just in case you were wondering. There were no marijuana tents, no LSD depots. I'm guessing the only pills that were popped with this crowd were probably Ibuprofen.

I did have a little concern about the weather. We've been having rain day after day for more than a week, with more in the forecast. And, indeed, the skies were overcast once again as we left Lexington and headed to Salisbury.

I kind of wondered if we were caught in a shower if we'd throw our clothes off, like in some of the pictures I saw of the Woodstock generation, where scores of people unabashedly bathed in cow ponds. But naked septuagenarians is probably not a good visual. In any case, it never rained in the 90 or so minutes we were there. You can only take your memories so far, I guess.

In the end, we had a pretty good time.  The ebb-and-flow crowd was manageable; people were courteous to each other; music of several genres (including eastern Indian and Native American Indian) were on display. It was nostalgic.

I saw what I came to see, and it put a smile on my face.

Far out.

Kim leaves Hippie Fest in her VW bus...

No comments:

Post a Comment