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Posts Tagged ‘The Blue Ridge Mountains’

Palisades Parkway

Palisades Parkway

A nature and music filled weekend in upstate New York.  The weather was picture perfect as we left the city in our rental car by way of Palisades Parkway.  We stopped at a lovely scenic overlook to admire a view of Manhattan we rarely get to experience.

Mohonk Mountain

View from part of the Mohonk Mountain hike

As we drove down the New York State Thruway, the weather remained unmatchable, the trees glowing in their shades of orange and yellows. It was simply magnificent.  Coming from the Blue Ridge Mountains to live in NYC, the drive reminded how lovely the change of season is and how I longed for Virginia.  New York, however, served up such images of beauty over the weekend, I half considered, just for a moment, how nice it would be to have my parents move here to join my sister and I to live out our days in the tri-state area.

View from Mohonk Mountain hike

View from Mohonk Mountain hike

Leaving Manhattan in the early afternoon, Jay and I were dropped off at the mouth of the Mohunk Preserve.  The weekend started with a rocky rambling hike through the Preserve to the Mohunk Mountain House.  So majestically beautiful, I couldn’t possibly have left it out of the weekend’s descriptions.  Walking through the halls of this massive castle the Quakers built back in the 1800s, I immediately felt like I was in the Stephen King novel, The Shining.  And as I vocalize this thought to my companion he turns to tell me that Stephen King stayed here and this was where he got the inspiration for the movie.  Creepy.

Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House

Walking to the top of the Mohunk Mountain to the tower was magical. I felt as if I was in a different land.  How could I be in New York?  How could it have taken me 7 years to make my way to this beautiful area.  Simply majestic.

View of Mohonk Mountain House from top of Hike

View of Mohonk Mountain House from top of Hike

RAGING THE MOUNTAIN!

RAGING THE MOUNTAIN!

I ended Saturday with a few new bruises and so many smiles, surrounded by new friends and excited for what Sunday would bring.  As we awoke Sunday morning, I stepped out on to the back porch of the country house and took in the view and the fresh air.  What a great day for a Ramble. The sun was shining, the air had warmed and our friends had started to gather for round two.  But what is a Ramble you ask?  Once a month, Levon Helm, best known as the drummer for The Band, holds a The Midnight Ramble inside “The Barn” located on his Woodstock New York property.  That is pretty awesome. Today was a free Levon Helm’s Kids Ramble and it would be held at Gills Farm.

Gill's Farm Store Front

Gill's Farm Store Front

Pumpkin Cannon of Ulster County

Pumpkin Cannon of Ulster County

The Kids Ramble was slated to go from 2pm to 4pm.  We arrived around 1pm and the parking had already gotten tight.  As I exited the car, the first sounds I heard came from THE PUMPKIN LAUNCHER. A pretty insane part of the event.  The epic sound of this launcher was ridiculous.  I hadn’t seen the thing yet but I imagined this GIANT slingshot type thing going down.  Not the case.   First thing I saw, as we made our way to the property, peeking out just above the tree line, was the tip of a metal shaft and a chunk of pumpkin spewing out.  This thing was more crucial then I could even imagine.  The second thing I  see is a crowd of people checking out this MASSIVE, double-tanked 30+ foot welded, metal pumpkin launcher. Apparently, they have contests giving people a reason to build these excellent contraptions.

THE CANNON

THE CANNON

Having a 6 year old with us, this Ramble was designed for her and her peer group.  There was a giant pumpkin field on the right side of the property where families were picking pumpkins to take home. There was face painting and pumpkin carving stations.  You had an amazing tractor ride that took families through the pumpkin field, the corn field, a mud bog and back to the pumpkin field.  Then you had this enclosed hay tunnel the kids could climb through.  And although I never saw the end, it must have had one as the kids came bounding to the soundboard once the music started.

Hippies dancing in the pumpkin fields

Hippies dancing in the pumpkin fields

The entire event was was literally held in the parking lot and side field (a little more then an acre of space maybe??) in the store font of Gills Farm.  Taking a look around, there were easily 300 people crammed onto this property and SPILLING into the streets, into the pumpkin field.  It got to the point where the locals had parked along the nearby streets, blocking the shuttle buses picking people up from the designated parking lots.

Roasted Corn! Get Some!!

Roasted Corn! Get Some!!

On the side of the store was the kitchen where they sold roasted corn, corn chowder, chili, hot dogs, squash soup, ciders and more. I can speak for the roasted corn and corn chowder.  I had never had roasted corn before and I believe it made it into my top 100 all time favorite foods now.  A-MA-ZING!  Then you had the corn chowder which I had heard others raving about.  It was not overly salted or peppered so the simplicity of the corn really came through.  I loved it.

Our Farm Fueled Lunch!

Our Farm Fueled Lunch!

Yummy!

Yummy!

As we attempted to find a spot to sit and eat, we came across a few upside down plastic crates and sat.  Just as I was about to dig into my corn I was told I had to move.  There was no natural seating except for a few benches here that were all taken up.  As I walked away to head to our blanket behind the soundboard, the crowd started cheering.  Seems I had been sitting right next to Levon’s trailer and sadly, as my hands were filled with scrumptious farm treats, I was unable to get pictures.  I was also a little open-jawed as Donald Fagan followed close behind.  And as I made it to the soundboard, Levon made it to the stage.

View from behind Soundboard

View from behind Soundboard

The Levon Helm’s Band

Levon Helm – Drums, Guitar, Vocals
Larry Campbell – Guitar, Mandolin, Violin, Vocals
Amy Helm – Backup Vocals
Teresa Williams – Guitar and Vocals
Jim Weider – Guitar
Byron Isaacs – Upright Bass
Brian Mitchell – unknown
Jay Collins – Saxophone
Erik Lawrence – Saxophone
Howard Johnson
Justin Flick – Drums
Steven Bernstein – Trumpet
Clark Gayton – Trombone

Special Guests:

Donald Fagan – Keys
Daniel Lewis – Keys

Man, I want this!

Man, I want this!

They started the set with notable songs from The Band‘s catalog like Look Out Cleveland and Long Black VeilLarry Campbell, a self taught musician who has never had formal training on any of the instruments he plays, switched from guitar to mandolin to violin throughout the set.    Teresa Williams also on guitar, sang like a dove.  Long Black Veil was a favorite of the day thanks to her earthy vocals.

Rambling Musicians!

Rambling Musicians!

Next we had Donald Fagan give us a sultry, bluesy intro to a song I am unsure of.  He sang the lyrics and melted the last few notes.  I really wish I could recall the title. Ophelia had everyone cheering and singing along. A great song. There was a large horn section with two saxophones, a trumpet and trombone. Each one taking their turn for a solo throughout the song.  Almost sounding second line-esque the entire set.

Then we had the Grateful Dead covers  by way of Shakedown Street with Donald Fagan on lead vocals.  Deep Elem Blues had Larry Cambell on mandolin, hippies dancing in pumpkin patches and the horns got down and dirty as Levon played his electric mandolin while Justin Flick took his place at the drum kit.

With all these people he brings to a stage, Levon is never far from adding more and more.  Out walks Daniel Lewis (Gov’t Mule) to play keys along side Donald Fagan for Tennessee Jed. I saw a guy on the french horn at this point but I was unsure of who he was.  The horn players evaded me as I couldn’t get close enough to make out faces.

Larry and Teresa

Larry and Teresa - Levon on Mandolin

Donald Fagan and Daniel Lewis blasted out on the keys for a superb cover of Steely Dan’s Black Friday. Teresa Williams BELTED out Hot Tuna‘s Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning. This song was originally a spiritual song sung by Blind Willie Johnson, a favorite of mine. The way her voice melted into the song almost had me in tears.  Yup.  It’s been a while sing I cried at s show as a result of being touched by the music.  She almost had me but not quite.  Perhaps yall should check out her band, Ollabelle.

They closed the show out with The Band‘s famous song, The Weight. Everyone was singing.  The kids were dancing. Steven Bernstein gave us a wonderful solo on the trumpet.  The sun was shining.  We all ended the set in a blissful singalong.

Levon says Goodbye!

Levon says Goodbye!

SET LIST: Look Out Cleveland, Long Black Veil, ———, Ophelia, Shakedown Street, ————, Deep Elem Blues, Tennessee Jed, Black Friday, Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning, King’s Harvest, The Weight

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www.gatheringofthevibes.com

Thanks Jerry!

Thanks Jerry!

I must immediately say THANK YOU GATHERING OF THE VIBES!!!  WHAT A GREAT, WONDERFUL, CLEAN, HAPPY MUSIC FESTIVAL!!!!  I don’t even know where to begin this weekend.  So much happened!

My lil VibeTribe

My lil VibeTribe

It was a weekend of firsts for sure!  I would be camping for the first time this year and we were taking the train with all our gear from Manhattan.  HAHA!! I was stoked to see how we would make that happen.  I was co-chaperoning a 15 year old rager this weekend so now I was responsible for another life other then my own for the first time.  This was my first time with a VIP ticket and being able to utilize VIP amenities at a festival.  First time seeing numerous bands like Primus and The Rhythm Devils…and so much more.

This was, however, my SECOND Gathering of the Vibes. My first one was a little bit of a train wreck.  This go-round, it was heaven on earth and down as one of my top five festival experiences.

The people who we spend these magical weekends with are called our Tribe and effect our experiences considerably.  I got off work around 5pm Thursday afternoon and immediately met up with my mini-Vibe Tribe at the 125th street Metro Station to catch the train to Seaside Park, Bridgeport, Ct..

The Lead Heads w/ Issac on the right :)

The Lead Heads w/ Issac on the right!

Let me tell you a little something about our teenage charge for the weekend.  Issac Slone.  One of the most smart, well-mannered, self-aware, gorgeous young human beings you will ever meet.  From a musical standpoint, he is the bass player for The Lead Heads, the Nation’s only teen-age Grateful  Dead cover band.  And they are no joke.  Issac also writes his own blog and I will be sure to post his GOTV  entries once they are posted……

(Check out The Lead Heads show this weekend @ B.B. Kings on Sunday, August 8, 2010 ~ JERRY GARCIA MEMORIAL TRIBUTE SHOW Featuring: REFLECTIONS – Celebrating and Jamming the music of the Grateful Dead  and  Jerry Garcia)

Ready for Full rage!

Ready for Full rage!

I would be chaperoning our little rager with my favorite person on  earth, Jay.  The dear man had carted all the gear to the station by  himself.  God Bless him.  I smiled as I saw Issac’s mother had come to see him off .  I immediately felt an immense warmth and sense of maternal instinct kick in.  I was not one to babysit when I was a kid, never one to seek children out.  I was always the person who said they would adopt or just not have children.

Wook stop!

Wook stop!

Recently, in the past year that has all changed.  This was going to create an entirely different festival going experience for me.  I was looking forward to finding that balance between raging and responsibility.  I knew I would take the best care of her precious treasure.  I would kill for that kid. And at the end of the day, Issac is possibly more mature and grown up at 15 then some of my friends in their 40’s.  He’s simply a pure ray of wholesome sunshine.

Shuttle to Vibes

Shuttle to Vibes

With two tents, bedding, bags and chairs, we did remarkable lugging the gear around.  It’s also nice Jay is 6’2 and strong.  Upon arriving in Bridgeport, we joined some wooks who were waiting for the shuttle bus and as we boarded it, we all got giddy.  Everyone was fully charged.  Issac’s excitement only fueled my own.   I spent the 10 minute shuttle ride thinking back on my first music festival and how excited I was.

The Festival Grounds @ Seaside Park, Bridgeport, Ct.

The Festival Grounds @ Seaside Park, Bridgeport, Ct. (Similar Set up this year)

Welcome To VIBES!

Welcome To VIBES!

The festival was held on the University of Bridgeport‘s campus grounds.  It was lovely but terribly run down with dilapidated buildings and trash that the earth had eaten over time of neglect.  From the drop off point, we took a fun little ride on a golf cart through the camp grounds and past the stage to the VIP check-in.  You can hear New Rider’s of the Purple Sage playing in the background as we pass the stage in the video below.

Pretty Lamanant!

Pretty Lamanant!

VIP.  Another first for me and absolutely worth every  penny.  One barely needs to spend a penny outside the ticket price.   I  will go into the amenities as they arise along our path but in the mean  time The Vibes 2010 VIP Pass  Includes:

•VIP Entrance
• VIP Camping Area conveniently located near the concert field
• Admittance to the park on Thursday, July 29th at no extra charge
• Hospitality Tent with plenty of room to spread out, relax and chill
• Your choice of water, soda, juices and snacks throughout the weekend
• Catered lunch on Friday and Saturday, with brunch served on Sunday
• VIP bathroom facilities and showers
• Commemorative 15th Annual Gathering of the Vibes Laminate
• Gathering of the Vibes 2010 Event Poster
• Gathering of the Vibes 2010 Event T-Shirt

VIP Check-in

VIP Check-in

Settin' up camp...

Settin' up camp...

First thing we did was establish our camp.  I am a Virginian tomboy who spent her summer youth in the mountains camping, spelunking, climbing, and hiking among other things.  Then I moved to The Blue Ridge Mountains for college for 6 years.   I may be a spoiled city girl now but I know how to get dirty, boi!!  So, here I was with two New Yorkers from the Upper West/East who live in door man buildings and have relied on a superintendent when things needed fixing.  Needless to say, it was amusing to say the least.  Inside my head, I was dying hysterical.  It was at this point we made friends with all our neighbors as many got involved when our “Hit-a-button-and-it’s-magically-a-tent” tent didn’t work.  Whole damn thing was smack-you-in-the-head fantastic.  I will just hope that Issac writes about his experience putting up the  tents in his blog and you can read it there! It was hilarious and fun and in the end  we all helped to get the two tents up in time for Dark Star Orchestra (DSO)  to begin.

Dark Star Orchestra @ GOTV 2010

Dark Star Orchestra @ GOTV 2010

DARK STAR ORCHESTRA

Rob Barraco- keyboards, vocals
Rob Eaton – rhythm guitar, vocals
Dino  English – drums, percussion
Rob Koritz – drums, percussion
Lisa  Mackey – vocals
Jeff Mattson – lead guitar, vocals
Kevin Rosen –  bass, vocals

Oh man, Oh man!!  Right off the bat the music started with a fury.  I have skipped over seeing DSO at every festival this year and I got smacked dead in the face by them tonight.  They were on fire.

Celebrating Jerry Garcia’s Birthday week, I actually didn’t want to see anything but Dark Star at that moment.  This week was all about Jerry and his music, his legacy.  The thing I love about Dark Star, aside from my personal favorite Fake Jerry: Jeff Mattson, is how they present their shows.  Picking a Grateful Dead show from their many decades of touring, DSO recreates the show song for song.  They bring their own vibe, interpretation and sound to the sets and it’s truly the greatest cover band of all time IMO.

Dark Star Orchestra @ GOTV 2010

Dark Star Orchestra @ GOTV 2010

We made it to the field while Candyman was playing.  Issac was hungry so we grubbed down some fries and pancakes.  Dinner of festival champions.  And the fries were miracled, haha.  After the food, we made our way over to the Karma Wash to establish our base-camp for the rest of the weekend.  The Karma Wash crew were our close friends and this was always our spot to meet between sets with whoever wanted to find us.  Having Issac this weekend made this an even more crucial location then normal.

Full Moon 4 DSO!

Full Moon 4 DSO!

A really special thing happened during this set, during this time of setting up at the Karma Wash.  First, a little back story….

During Mountain Jam, a lost soul had made his way to the Karma Wash and had been touched in a positive way through the entire vibe of the set up.  He thought I was the one who “washed him” and finding me through facebook, we became friends.  Over time I noticed that his status’s were dark, deeply sad and made me straight up nervous for his safety.  Not really knowing him or what he was going through, I reached out to him anyway.

Dark Star Orchestra @ GOTV 2010

Dark Star Orchestra @ GOTV 2010

We began communication and over time I learned that he was suicidal, hurt, lonely, broken…all for the same reasons I had been in 2009.  I knew all too well how he felt and I just hoped he would see light.  Through our communications, I shared things with him I wouldn’t share with anyone and he thanked me for helping him see hope when even those closest to him were not able to reach him.  We casually spoke about meeting up at Gathering of the Vibes but I didn’t know if I would really see him.  And, so now, here we were.

Walking right up to the Karma Wash, I sw a few familiar faces and hugged it out and right off the bat, this person turns around and there was his face.  Smiling SO bright.  I wanted to cry but I kept it together.  I was so happy to see him standing there…SMILING!!!  There were no words, we just walked directly into each other’s arms and hugged for a long time.  It was awkward and wonderful at the same time.  How does one react in these moments?  This entire fantasy world was surrounding me and here was this super intense, real moment…at least for me.  There are no words for these kinds of moments.  Later, he would tell me that “Your hug released my soul.”  What a way to start off a weekend fueled by the power of music and kindness.  You can’t make this stuff up…nor can you do it justice in words…not when emotion is such a huge player in the equation.

Dark Star Orchestra @ GOTV 2010

Dark Star Orchestra @ GOTV 2010

DSO really got the festival started off right.  The dance party was bouncing and I knew it would seamlessly roll right into Big Sam’s arms, ready to RAGE late night…

Set One:   Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo > Franklin’s Tower > New  Minglewood Blues, Candyman,Me And My Uncle > Mexicali Blues,  Althea, Man Smart (Woman Smarter, Ramble On Rose, Let It Grow >  Deal

Set Two: Shakedown Street > Samson And Delilah, Never Trust A Woman, Estimated Prophet > He’s Gone > Drums > Space > Throwing  Stones > Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad > The Wheel > The  Other One > Wharf Rat > Good Lovin’

Encore: Don’t Ease Me In

Big Sam's Funky Nation @ GOTV 2010

Big Sam's Funky Nation @ GOTV 2010

Big Sam’s Funky Nation

Danny Abel – Guitar
Eric Vogel – Bass
Drummer Boy Milk  Williams – Drums
Da Phessah Drew Baham – Vocal/Trumpet

BSFN @ GOTV 2010

BSFN @ GOTV 2010

Big Sam…The King of the Party!  This performance was our underlying reason to coming to Vibes Thursday night instead of Friday.  I had told Jay about BSFN a while ago and prepared him for total late night domination by way of some contemporary, funky-ass, bass-filled, horn rage. Having seen Big Sam earlier in the year, I expected the same assortment of choices in set list and was eagerly awaiting to break my legs dancing.

Big Sam's Funky Nation @ GOTV 2010

Big Sam's Funky Nation @ GOTV 2010

Milk Williams @ GOTV 2010

Milk Williams @ GOTV 2010

Formerly the trombonist for the  Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Big Sam Williams, put on an indisputably raging dance party and I dare anyone to tell me they didn’t move during this performance.   This New Orleans-based group is modern funk at it’s best combining today’s popular pop songs with an MC attitude and some nasty NOLA swagger.  If you need more reason to go see them, in 2009, BSFN was awarded Best Funk Group  at the Big Easy Music Awards.  Look! An award…ohhh…ahhhh.  Just go see them.

Danny Abel is one HELL of a guitar player, bringing a sense of rock to the group, shredding his guitar in between Big Sam and Baham‘s horn heavy funk plays.  And Eric Vogel on bass is sharp and bumpy, standing out on his own throughout many of the songs during his solos.  A few songs in particular had me transfixed on him completely.  At times, the horns would leave the stage and allow the other three to jam out.  Drummer Boy Milk  Williams raging a vibrant drum solo, flanked by the guitars.

Big Sam's Funky Nation @ GOTV 2010

Big Sam's Funky Nation @ GOTV 2010

During the encore, Big Sam reiterated the importance of “family” and then he open the flood gates:

“Normally, we just want the ladies up here.  But tonight…it’s family, right?  We are family!  So, let’s have the guys up here too.  Bring it up here.”

Bum rushin' the stage...

Bum rushin' the stage...

I was probably the first girl on stage as I was directly up front on the railing for the show anyway.  But by the time I even turned around it was full of dudes.  Now, where some women are still crazy scrambling fanatics to get to the stage, knocking people over, they are still dainty right?  Most times? Try telling a group of male ragers they should join the stage? When I turned around, after being helped on stage by security…it was as if a heard of spider monkeys were coming at me.  By the time they cut off the surge, it was almost all men.

We raged the stage for the entire song.  After the song I got off the stage and most people stayed on.  I was now alone in the pit and danced around in circles until the end of the performance in front of the stage in my own little world.

Peace out Vibes...

Peace out Vibes...

(Check  out Big Sam’s Funky Nation show this weekend on the Rocks Off Cruise Series this Wednesday, August 11,  2010)

We concluded the evening/early morning by hitting up the Casbah, a dope set up our friends had in Family camping.  I immediately collapsed down on the mats in the middle of a group of my friends.   The cuddle puddle had commenced and I was utterly raged.  You wanna know how hard tonight raged???   I passed out before almost all my friends.  That NEVER EVER happens.

Move on to Day II: Gathering of the Vibes: Friday (07.30.10)

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