The High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival runs July 10-13 at the Bluff and Summit Park in Westcliff, Colorado.
A huge circus tent is set up in the town park with spectacular views of the mountains and valley nearby. In the 2010 census, the population of Westcliff was 568, up from 417 in 2000. 15 bands played this year and festival attendance was close to 4000. The Festival is a fundraiser for children of the area and helps with medical services for the town. In the last fifteen years, the event has raised almost $600,000 towards its charitable goals.
In a town of 568, you know everyone, and everyone is involved in their town. There are volunteers running shuttles that pick us up in the festival parking lot and run us up the hill to the music tent. Volunteers haul trash away, direct traffic, provide first aid services, sell tickets ,and one of them wraps the four day green wristband around my wrist and fastens it.securely. If you remove the band you have to buy another to get back inside the grounds.
Smack dab in a beautiful piece of no where, the town and festival is big enough to attract talent and small enough to be family friendly. You can go to the merchandise tent and visit performers after their set, buy CD’s and T shirts and ball caps. There is a beer tent and country folks handle their alcohol better than most. Kids run in the grass outside the tent and even dogs are well behaved and wag their tails in perfect time with the music.
For four days, we listen to and enjoy all the banjo, guitar, mandolin, upright bass and vocal music we can handle, mostly bluegrass ,but some country and some folk.
When, as one of the musicians says on stage, talking about a song he wrote,before he performs it, you move from a country where seven percent of the population feeds the other 93% you are seeing some real change.When people don’t know where their food comes from, they tend to lose their humility and appreciation for simple pleasures.
When we take the country out of America, we are burnt toast.
Bluegrass should be in every music collection, even if you don’t know where the country is and would never go there of your own free will.
The National Anthem is one of the most played songs in America. If you have played in school bands, military bands, marching bands, or are a musician who has performed at any sporting or public event, you have played the familiar melody since you were very young.
In America, individualism is worshiped, but so is big Government.
Most of us fall someplace different on the line that stretches from pure individualism towards the right end of the line to pure communism towards the left, in relation to how much government control of your life you want. It is no wonder that we shake our heads at each other, erroneously thinking we all fall on the same place on this political line that crosses itself so often you don’t always know left from right. The tug of war between these opposing dreams describes our American dilemma.
After the National Anthem, the color guard marches off the putting green and we golfers all find our assigned golf carts and roll out for a shotgun start to the golf tournament.
This golf tournament is a fundraiser for Lifequest, a group that mentors juveniles locked up in jail, believing that the Bible and good mentors will keep juveniles from going back to jail after they serve their time and are released.
Regardless of our place on any line, we know mistakes are made and not every child has a good home to come from, or a good home to go back too.
Listening to the National Anthem, I know my battle line in the sand.
If it wasn’t for mistakes, we wouldn’t be human, and, politician’s sons and daughters need to be on the front lines of any war their parents start.
The last police band i saw was in Cuenca, at a celebration for ex-pats and foreign business development in that Ecuadorian city.
This Santo Domingo events aim is to support women and fight domestic violence in Latin America.This police band provides some of the entertainment. There are uniformed officers patrolling all the tourist destinations in this ” old City.”. and, except for getting hustled to buy things you don’t want or solicited to take a guided tour from one of the many guides in the area, the Zone is very safe.
The police band’s music is contagious, in a good way.
It is good for the police to show their gentle side since most of their job deals with locking up family, friends, and strangers who choose not to follow rules.
Police are still humans, we sometimes forget, who wear guns, handcuffs, badges, drive official vehicles. play in the police band, and put people in jail.
They can never lose their humanity no matter how much bad they have to clean up.
When public servants and institutions lose their humanity, we all lose.
Sax Rats is our saxophone quartet – two alto saxes, a tenor sax, and a baritone sax.
It is cold this evening as we load into Dan’s van, drive down, set up, begin our first music set at the Holiday Stroll in Old Town, Albuquerque.
” In college, ” Chris tells us, ” I did gigs and made $50.00 a night and was happy to get it ”
” The other day, ” he goes on, ” I did a jazz gig and still made fifty. ” he laughs.
Chadd, my saxophone teacher, has a sign on his studio door that describes a musician as a person who will work most of their life to get enough skills to play music in public, play a several thousand dollar instrument, drive a hundred miles to a gig in a six hundred dollar car, spend fifty dollars on drinks, gas, and food out of their own pocket, make seventy five dollars for the night’s gig, and wake up the next morning with a hangover and barely enough money for huevos rancheros..
I expect we will be back at the Holiday Stroll again next year.
Latest government stats say the U.S. doesn’t have any inflation.
Pots and pans are on the stove, the table has been set for three, a Butterball Turkey browns in the oven. It took four hours for this bird to cook and slicing it up on the kitchen counter means dinner is close.
Alan, Sherrie, and I have Thanksgiving this year at Alan’s.
At the White House, a Trump turkey is pardoned but White House chefs are in their sparkling kitchens preparing a big feast of beef, ham, salmon fit for a King and Queen. Dignitaries visit America’s White House throughout the year, and, while discussing policy, like to wine and dine as befits their diplomatic positions.
On a turkey’s calendar, November 22 is marked with a huge X and circled for emphasis.
On Thanksgiving, they load their families into their SUV’s, tuck in their feathers, and go to the beach, out of harm’s way.
Next year I’m planning on being there with them.
Seeing turkeys, in bikini’s, is something I just don’t want to miss.
Halloween has crawled out of the grave for another year.
At a local Starbucks, Freddie doesn’t have to bone up on store policy, customer relations, or how to work the register. He hands out coffee and keeps his mouth shut because he rattles when he talks. This morning his fellow employees have a close hold on their cell phones, and, right now, are as dead to their employer as he is.
What shocks me is the lack of response Freddie gets. A few customers smile when I take his picture and ask him ” what’s going on, Dude? ”
Mostly, these days, people are into their phones, more dead to the world than Freddie.
Trying to communicate with the living dead is a day to day thing most all of us have learned to endure.
The boneyard, I glean from this coffee break, is closer than I’d like to be.
Rubbing elbows with skeletons is not my favorite cup of tea.
Flamingos are often seen in front yards as plastic yard ornaments, and double as stir sticks in fancy lounge drinks.
This evening, the Albuquerque zoo is hosting a music concert. Surrounding the stage, families and friends have spread umbrellas, blankets, folding chairs and wait for Ryan McGarvey, a local boy made good, to sing and play his electric guitar. Newspaper stories say Ryan has performed with the British rock and blues legend Eric Clapton.
Flamingos at the zoo, this evening, can’t be charged with not sticking their necks out.
Tonight’s concert will sound, to them, like the bellowing of hippos and their tall graceful necks will move to the music like a conductor’s baton.
Julie and Nathan, moved to Albuquerque from California, like the concert, and especially love the rain and stormy skies.
Spectators huddle under umbrellas, blankets,plastic tarps, and the music, all by itself, out- dramas the weather.
There is always plenty to be entertained with where we live if we take the time to find it.
In 1965, this gym was state of the art for our time in high school.
It had locker rooms for boys and girls, a weight room, offices for the coaches and staff. It had polished hardwood floors on the basketball court that gleamed, and rows of wood bleachers that could be rolled out and back in depending on event requirements. In the gymnasium, band geeks performed concerts,the school had its Homecoming, Pep assemblies and yearly Prom. In P.E.,we guys rope climbed from the gym floor to the ceiling, touched an I beam and came down as fast as we could while our classmates watched us and nervously waited their turn to climb up like Jack going up a beanstalk.
Money has been appropriated this 2018 to build a new state of the art sports complex for Manzano High School. The new facility is almost complete and all that is left to do is demolish this old – functional gym, scoop its pieces up with a big machine to be hauled away by another big machine.
In a world on the move, chasing its tail, collateral damage is just part of the new game.
In the 1960’s, a most favored slogan was ” Make Love, Not War. ”
Their were lots of babies conceived in hippie vans as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane fanned anti war sentiment, wore flowers in their hair and had meetings with Indian gurus. Flower children blew bubbles in parks and gave roses to hardened cops wearing helmets and sunglasses.
It wasn’t hard to be against a war that sent home young men in caskets.Communism wasn’t likely to swim across the ocean and take over our cities but Washington D.C. wasn’t taking any chances. North Vietnam was trying to consume South Vietnam and the American military machine was going to plug the hole in their border.
50,000 American dead later, the war ended with a whimper.
The 1960’s have returned without tie die T shirts, beards and hippie glasses. At the Punkin Chunkin Festival we have cowboy boots, pickups with tow hitches,levis and Copenhagen snuff secured in back pockets.
Shooting pumpkins is about as peaceful as it gets.
” Make love, not babies, ” is our newest generational slogan.
I guess some have finally found a war they think they can win.
Bennett’s Amusements moves in the day before an event, fences off their area at the Festival, back up huge equipment trucks, rides, and promotions. Agile carnies pick up wrenches and assemble a superstructure of steel connected by hundreds of feet of electric cables to a main generator run by diesel gas. Plain ole country dirt turns into an amusement venue.
In this circus there aren’t any animals or strongmen, no bearded ladies or human freaks. These are all protected species now, and midway visitors in 2017 are mostly interested in rides created by country bumpkins with time on their hands and a love for machinery.
Bennett’s, a small time outfit, moves across country, handling amusements in fields, shopping center parking lots and county fairgrounds.The king of the circus, Ringling Brothers, shut down last year and all that is left of the industry is ma and pa operations like this one.
Kids, these days, don’t run away to join the circus. Many just want to sing rap, get interviewed on television, and drive a nice muscle car..
I don’t know what is coming to replace Bennett amusements but it is not likely going to be something I like.
What people do to amuse themselves tells you who they are.