by Nelson Holmes
GARDNER- “Hippie Days” was an unqualified success. Just wanted to make sure this particular point was presented without a trace of doubt. The weather wasn′t too extreme and the rain that fell really just added a fun “Woodstock” twist to the festivities. Far from extinguishing the celebratory spark, the rain became an enticement for many to dance in the deluge as others made new friends while huddling under the many sheltering umbrellas and booths. No, I′d be hard pressed to pick metaphorical nits from this event’s wooly tresses.
I arrived on Friday after a trying work week and I found myself greeted by the estrogen-infused harmonies of the “Brat Headz” whose sweet notes set a mellow vibe that seemed to resonate the evening through. I felt myself beginning to drift as the aromas from the food vendor′s booths began a serpentine dance in time with the music. Ohhh… excuse me as I let my memory stroll down a tangent compelled by appetite.
Barbeque, hot wings, burritos and bean bites, fajitas with a touch of the orient and turkey legs that would make old Henry the Eighth weep in appreciation, such were the victuals arrayed for the choosing. And, should, for whatever reason, one be overcome by the munchies there were also rich baked goodies to satiate the sweet-tooth.
I think I was degreasing my hot wing polluted goatee when Pat Willis caught my ear with what sounded like Tuvan throat singing. Sure enough, this bard′s Mission Wolf inspired songs wove a guttural hum through the melody creating an ethereal aural hypnotic that lent a touch of the exotic.
Speaking of the exotic; how about belly dancers? Oh yes, there were belly dancers. The kinks that cause 21st century neck muscles to curl into concrete balls were assuaged by a band from La Veta known as DNA; thus we were all lulled into a relaxed vibe. Then came a revelation as “Watson and August” hit the stage with guitar and a bongo-like instrument capable of an array of rhythmic tones that defied the realms of mathematical possibility. And Johnnie Watson′s voice was like some cross between Richie Havens and some other singer loathe to leave the confines of my memory… it′s driving me crazy. The heavens must have taken the beat as a primal request for rain because, in the middle of the Watson and August set, came a soaking of Biblical magnitude. This is where I confess to my employers that I left early; concerned that I was going to have to surf home on a sea of slippery mud… to my editor, humble apologies. I do have it on good authority that the ′Sunny Side Ups” kept the soggy tribe gyrating to their funky, soul-infused tunes.
I arrived at noon on Saturday and discovered that I had already missed the “Jim Fowler Jam” but had arrived in time to catch the familiar and always seductive song stylings of Clark Dimond. Soon thereafter the “Aztlan Drummers” offered a soulful benediction designed to steer the wayward spirit toward a benevolent mind-set. As an aside, whatever forces seemed to compel a lightness of heart and a sense of goodwill were successful; I asked the genial security folk if anything untoward had occurred and they offered warm smiles, tinged with boredom, and relayed that the event was sweet and well mannered.
I fear I′ll have to give Izzy and Betsy less than their due if only because their notes are a known quantity; warm and comfortable. The person who caught my ear and blew the contents of my cranium into some back of beyond was Jacqui Gibson. A kind, if somewhat professorial looking woman in tie-dye, I believe she caught everyone off-guard as she managed to evoke an array of beautiful and hallucinogenic sounds from a fleet of acoustic guitars. Primates, without obvious Godly favor, should not be capable of this kind of musical expertise. Even Mr. Watson, gifted as he is, seemed stunned as Jacqui casually harnessed a pallete of sound that would have made Jimi Hendrix envious. For the first time all weekend the crowd was hushed in reverent amazement.
“The Silver Eagle Band,” in pied-piper fashion, compelled all revelers to the dance floor with a righteous blend of party music from the good time end of the musical spectrum. I′m sorry I can′t give the credit due, but the Silver Eagles lead guitarist channeled Eddie Van Halen and entered into a steaming solo that must have burned his digits!. The mood was enhanced by the smooth, brass enhanced, booty-moving vibe of the “Groove Farmers.” Finally, like the home team ready to set the terms on their own turf, “Planet “O′” laid into a groove that left no doubt as to who hosted this party… damn, they′re good!
So, thanks Bo, Patty and the whole Hippie Days/Planet O entourage for your labors and commitment. This year was bigger, mellower and and more vibrant thanks to you. I know you owe me nothing and I′m in no position to make requests… but I′ve got one anyway. Hippie Days has been thankfully unencumbered by boorish, heavy handed consumerism. Even the Diggers slaved away making free munchies for the hungry hoards. The artists and crafts people have all been local and their wares are made by hand. The only “brands” of note are Hippie Days and Planet “O” and these are brands that pass the taste test. Please, as you grow, don′t let yourselves get co-opted and become Hippie Days… presented by (place name of evil corporate entity here). You guys are an organic expression of this community, as you grow, please don′t lose sight of what makes you so special. Thanks again!