Friday, February 01, 2008

Floating with instruments

Or, How I came to be embarking on the world's greatest music cruise in about 48 hours

By kellybeez

Once upon a time, a smart music lover invited all of his musician friends to join him at a cottage on the lake.

After dinner, just about the time folks start unlatching cases, looking for misplaced picks, and shuffling through song sheets in subdued chaos not unlike orchestral rehearsal halls, the music lover's wife strolled over to the pontoon and leaned on the railing. The relaxed movement of her posture struck a chord with the guests, who then loaded up the coolers and hopped on board the boat all tuned up.

At least that's how I'd like to think floating on the water with instruments began.

Then just last year, on the last day of the 2007 Wheatland Music Festival, we were pretty mellow, although some people were still on duty and fulfilling volunteer obligations. By Sunday, most of us who have worked the festival are tired and are looking forward to to the quiet once the first ten thousand people go home. We just don't spend Sunday afternoons in front of main stage religiously like we used to.

“The Duhks are on! The Duhks are on!” squeals could be heard a throughout Workshop Lane, and the pines were quaking. Then we heard the wail of the fiddle, and zoom zoom, you never saw so many mature people skedaddle up the sandy path at the same time, and, er, the same mature pace. Those kids on stage are still rockin' it out like it was prime time Saturday night and the old, er, mature ones were following suit.

At the end of the set, there's the collaborative bittersweet let down, although we're really never out of festival mode until later, maybe the day you decide to unpack the duffel bags. Some of us even manage to hang on to the afterglow our first few days back at work. Usually the walk back to the campsites focuses on the festival goers, because we've just put the music to bed. Not this time.

The mobile crowd was holding an interesting debate. Most of the people were still reeling from the Duhks sheer energy force, but some were closer to shock than awe. The underlying feeling of some long time bluegrass fans that an “old style” should close out the festival, rather than “new” wasn't a negative vibe, it just signified the changing of the guard, the passing of the baton, the reason that I refer to my same age friends as mature, and my purpose for documenting this historic time in Michigan music history.

My curiosity aroused, I looked up the Duhks online once I landed back home. Exciting sound, exciting band, exciting groove, and apparently making old-style music fans excitable. In the investigation I found a link to Cayamo: A Journey Through Song, where The Duhks would be joining an amazing roots music artist lineup on a music cruise.

That's right, floating with instruments. So, here I am, a few days before flying out to Miami to set sail on Cayamo next week. I'll have some details in my next post, and a full report after I get back.

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