Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Philadelphia Folk Festival, my pics...

My introduction to the Philly Folk Fest:

In need of a vacation, I had not the money to go surfing with Corky Carroll at his paradise resort in southern Mexico and was looking for something to ''get me out of the city". I was listening to WXPN and they were chatting up the folk fest and I remember my uncle telling me how fun it was in the late 60's early 70's and I even knew a few people who still go so I got on the horn and talked to my buddy's brother Joe who is a volunteer there and I am so glad that I did! I don't think I would have survived without his advice. I'm pretty industrious at times but from 6AM when I drove through Harleysville on my way to Schwenksville the confusion started. Well actually the makeshift roadsigns were actually spot on and really helpful, just that everyone and everything else was not from the time that I pulled up to the main gate, or "Point". And not to bust their balls or anything, I mean the whole shebang is run by volunteers on a shoestring budget so there is going to be communication breakdowns. No worries, it all worked out really well and I made some really good friends. Hopefully they will read this and shoot me some of the awesome pics that they had taken of all of us so I can introduce you to them.

Thursday, 6AM, Schwenksville: On a tip from my buddy Joe I got there early. The ride was dark and rainy and my windshield wipers on Moby were streaking making sign reading just a bit tougher for a 40 something with waning eyesight. I drive straight up to the "Point" or main gate without a hitch (I took that off Moby so I didn't bust my shins on the monstrous piece of metal in the center of Moby's bumper. That was a play at humor. Let me know if it worked or not). But I really did remove the hitch on my truck, just so you know, because it will devastate a naked shin. I ask what the ins and outs of this waiting to get into the show thing was and they had no clue. So I drove up to the next gate, same deal, completely oblivious to knowledge of such questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything. One girl does tell me of a staging area for incoming camper traffic up the road so I head that way, the gates are closed so I park in front of them. After a few hours I see people at the entrance to the staging area and think they are letting people in. NOPE. Just volunteer firemen to run the staging area, so I go back to parking in what later will be the exit to the staging area and shoot the sh!t with a couple of the volunteer fireman for a while and eventually they send me on my way to go park in the local firehouse. { HINT #1 } If you get there early, park there. You will know where it is because they send everyone early on this loop to keep driving around until they open that area. Well, it was still raining hard and I found the firehouse while the rain eventually faded.

9:50 AM Thursday: Moby roars and we get on our way...into traffic. LOG JAM! It was now the waiting game to get into the staging area for campers. 45 minutes it took to get into the staging area and then another 45 to get into the camp.

11:15 AM Thursday: I start packing up my wheelbarrow {HINT #2} a wheelbarrow or other sort of cart is MOST important because you have to hoof all your gear by foot to your hopefully available campspot...Thanks once again Joe for this awesome tip. But of course, I do this wrong and try to get into the camp without getting my bracelet first, but of course, they don't know where to send me to get one! LOL OK. Industrious Sean listens to other campers making fun of people like me and I eventually hoof my crap up to the main gate in the swelter of heat and humidity created by the sun and the rain. {HINT #3} Bring one of those sun shade things! There is NO shade to be had, you will need one for over your camping spot and tent too if you can wing it because the sun is going to wake your hung over butt up in the AM by 8AM!!!

So I get my spot, one of the last ones in the area I might add, and all of a sudden the area is jammed up with hopeful campers. My tent is a little out of line as I was hoping to have some space around the tent, but I was taking up space for others and that is how I met Paul, Warren (Bandana Santa as he will later be referred to by some would be partyers), Thom and Lori. I moved my tent a few feet for them and Voila!! they were able to fit their tents in too! So were were right on the painted line in which you weren't allowed to camp any closer, we had a view of the parking lot, but most important, we had space AND a view of the lightning storms that rolled over camp just after everyone got set up! The weather was awesome!

Well, we were all set up. I made a bite to eat, the only time that I would have to cook thanks to the gracious hospitality of my neighbors, a story that I will soon get to. Red beans and rice with some canned organic chicken. Oh, yeah, peas too! YUM!

Things have mellowed out, camp was set up, my belly full so I walked around to check out what is going on the day before and I landed some good pre-party and pre-muddy pics of the local campers and musicians:
I think this was a group of thespians. I have no idea, I never saw them do anything, not because they didn't do anything, but it's just that there is SO much going on, it is difficult to see it all. {HINT #4} The party starts well after midnight and all the stage shows, and on Sunday it didn't start until 2:30 AM and there is MUCH to see and do!

I was keeping my eyes out for cool tie dye ideas, this was an excellent home made tie dye! There were sooo many good tie dyes that I felt inferior. I recently gave tie dying a go and messed up the chemistry some how. I'll figure it out the next time someone gives me a lot of free t shirts. LOL

A lot of people came in light camping. My buddy Joe the volunteer has pictures and video of people racing to get in the gates with all their gear flailing and falling down getting trampled just to get a good spot. Crazy.

The PHiladelphia Jug Band. You gotta look these guys up. They aren't playing here at the time, but they were later that evening. This mostly looks like family and friends, but the band has banjos, geetar, hammer dolcimer (I think that is what it was, it was described as the precursor to the piano that the Knights Templar brought back to Europe and invented piano keys instead of the the drumstick type hammers they used to use playing it, losing some of the flexibility of the hammers that keyed pianos just cannot reproduce), jews harp, Jug (of course), and a fellow who played a saw blade with a violin bow! Great stuff! I have to look them up online and see if i can find some tunes!

This was the Pig Fockers encampment. They seemed to be playing Beatles type tunes most of the time when I would walk by and stop for a listen. This is still Thursday so they weren't playing yet, but later that night....

Bottom Feeders had one wicked flag up! Me loves catfish!

Another encampment with a cool tie dye. I think they were playing music as well. Who wasn't? Me! LOL

So that was the scene Thursday afternoon before all the mud, before all the partying. I went back to camp, then came the rain!

6:30 PM Thursday: A storm is a brewin'! To the southwest we all back at camp could see it. It came on us fast like they would for the rest of the event. Next door Warren had gone home and Paul was there by himself. I didn't think much about the other camps, I just wanted to keep my stuff dry so I moved everything into my tent. I love my tent. Thank you Tammie Painter for giving me the impulse to buy that tent so many years ago because it's really good in heavy weather. The storm hits, first the cooling winds, then they get stronger and are accompanied by large raindrops and mega lightning bolts which indicated to me that it was high time to get inside my tent with my chair, my beer, etc... What I didn't know is that Paul was outside the whole time holding his sun shade down from blowing away in the lightning blasts! I was very comfy inside.

After an hour it passed and my new friends and I sat and watched the lightning blast away at Philadelphia to the east. It was nature's light show! I did a tour of the campsites again on my way to the show on the campground stage, which was lame. A young fellow tried picking me up. That was different. I knew his game, I wasn't down. He walked off, I listened to the music until it went over. It was Funk and it was like taking medicine when I was younger. I walked around camp and some people were jamming, but I was kind of tired and then my buddy Joe calls and says to take a nap and come back out around 2AM. I woke up and 4:30AM and thought it was too late and had no intention of going out. I should have, it was party central!

I went to bed around 2:30 AM just after this, what looked to me to be a flying burning paper bag floated over the encampment from one end to another about 300 feet in the air! There were 3 that night! They were some Japanese flying candelabras or something. I didn't think anyone would believe me the next day so I took a picture. They didn't really believe me until Friday night!

The next morning I awoke to cursing of the heat of the sun at 8AM! Hence the need for a shade canopy, so you can get some sleep! LOL

So that was my first day at the Fest. It was very wordy, but for good reason. The rest of the event was just that, event after event after event and I will have to give that a thorough going over on my next post. Maybe, I will get some pics from the others to comment on as well.

more to come....


Bandana Santa said...


Great to meet you at "The Fest". You are a terrific guy with a great sense of humor. Like the blog so far. Looking forward to reading your take on the rest of the 50th Annual Folk Fest. I am already planning next years trip. I will send you my pic's soon...

Bandana Santa

Vis said...

Ok fish its now oct 11 looking for more of your witty updates ...its like "no reservation" without Bordain!...keep em comming!

Sean Null said...

Hey Bandana Santa, write me back if you get this note!