At Folks Festival, the creativity was a flowing, from the kids building dams, castles, and cairns in the river to the musicians on stage, pulsing with the songs that welled up inside them, demanding to be let out.
Everywhere there were people relaxing into life on this small planet, planet bluegrass, this unhurried pace of life where the only thing to do was play, dance, and sing.
My children adored the art tent, where there were tons of raw materials and no rules. I could see how I approached the art table with a project in mind, while for Jordan and Oriah the compelling thing was the act of creating itself, not what was created. Oriah spent a good hour just piddling in the paint, while Jordan, a big tape fan, loved that tape could unify his vision, bringing disparate objects into some kind of cohesion.
It was so refreshing to take a three day pause in my life, to finally just play with my children without needing to drive or rush or do chores. To watch them be inspired by the buzz of energy and music all around them.
It reminded me so much of the Rolling Stones song “As Tears Go By”… I sit and watch the children play.
We also went over to to the recording tent, where they had professional equipment that could record you sing or play. Jordan did it a few years ago, and I remember trying to correct him, telling him to sing louder and clearer. This year, again he was enraptured just by holding the mike, and hearing himself sing, his lips flared against the mike. I didn’t try to change anything…just let him sing his song, even if what came out what was a monotone drone.
For who am I to tell anyone how to sing their song? This was the amazing thing about the festival, how many songs there are to sing and ways to sing it. To be able to hear the exquisite rhythms of own lives, and to come to the place, as the poet Rumi writes, where everything is music.
But finding that music is no easy task. As Ellis said during her show, we need to listen to those dreams we carry inside our hearts—they are there for a reason.
Right now I am exhausted, filled with song and needing to become empty again to be able to pick out the tune I want to carry.
The line that keeps humming in my head is from Iron and Wine’s cover of Such Great Heights.
“Everything looks perfect from far away…”
The folks festival reminds me that with a little perspective change, by standing in the river or lying underneath the stars, camping in my own backyard, there is a perfection to our lives, in the flawed but infinitely tender love that moves through them.
One of my musical high points of the festival was hearing Iron and Wine, his incandescent voice reaching the big dipper that was poised over the stage, and inverted question mark. Here is a verse from Lion’s Mane:
Love is a tired symphony
you hum when you’re awake
Love is a crying baby
Mama warned you not to shake
Love is the best sensation
Hiding in the lion’s mane