I was up with the sons at 5:45. The day broke clear and sunny but with a nice breeze to take the edge off. I packed up and got gas before Lydia showed up at 7:30. We picked up Laura at 8 and hit the road.
We made great time and talked while listening to a couple Theme Time Radio Hours, pulling in to lot A at 9:30. We loaded our stuff into two six-seater golf carts and headed over to the Artist's Compound.
We made our way over to dressing room 28 and found a third of a trailer with a sign saying "hollow trees" which we would call home for our stay. It had air-conditioning, a bathroom, a microwave, and a fridge, all of which would come in handy throughout the day.
We were all set by 10, but the fest didn't open till 12, so we decided to walk around. We checked out the shaded artist's lounge with the free candy and beer. The ladies went to sign up for their complimentary massages while I roamed around the grounds taking pictures and getting my souvenir t-shirt before the crowds came.
Our set time was 2pm so we headed over to catering right when it opened at noon. I got a burger and some pizza (and snickers) to-go and took it back to the trailer for later. At about 1 we called for more golf carts to take us over to the Dome where the Half-Pint Hootenanny was.
At the Dome we met Karen, the promoter who put together the kid's entertainment. They had face painting, roping, costumes for pictures, and other activities. There were some great trick-shooters and lasso toting cowboys wandering around, including our emcee Cowboy Hotshot McGee.
We went on at 2 and had a great show. We did our new song "Hootenanny" and old favourites like "Jack was Every Inch a Sailor" and "Nelson." In honour of the country music theme we did "Happy Rovin' Cowboy," a song which Hank Williams used to open every show with. The crowd was still coming in but we had some real appreciative fans and afterwards met some nice folks.
After the show Lydia and Laura headed back to the trailer with most of the gear while I stayed to see the Bon Family Cloggers. They clogged up a storm, but soon I headed off to see the great Don Edwards. Don Edwards is America's greatest Cowboy Singer and and expert country yodeler. I saw him last weekend at the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, and I caught most of his set here. He was in fine form, an excellent guitar picker and great singer, painting poetic musical pictures of the cowboy lifestyle. I managed to videotape the very end of his set. You can't see him very well but you can sure hear him:
While Edwards was playing I took some pictures of the small country music museum they had set up in the back of that tent. I got some good snaps of Nudie suits and other memorabilia. Once Edwards was done I walked back to the trailer and ate lunch. The ladies were getting their complimentary massages, so I headed out to see more music.
I saw one song by Pat Green on the Mane stage before heading back to the Half Pint Hootenanny to check out The Bummkin Band. I enjoyed their country music for kids for awhile and then went over to see Ramblin' Jack Elliot.
Ramblin' Jack was a little cranky. I guess he wasn't feeling the vibe. He asked that we not take pictures, and I honored that. I decided to bail and go check out Marty Stuart.
Marty started off with two pretty standard white-boy blues songs. I was going to give up, but his third song was a perfect slice of 80's style honky-tonk, full of the shredding Telecaster chicken pickin' I'd come for. I stayed for another half-hour before I decided to move on.
I called Lydia and Laura who were just finishing dinner (crab legs!) and arranged to meet them back at the trailer. After refreshing ourselves we decided to head out one more time. We stopped by the artist's lounge for some beers and candy and I signed a bunch of guitars and posters which will be auctioned off for charity.
L and L decided to go see Garrison Keillor while I opted to see The Flatlanders. The Flatlanders are a group consisting of the singer-songwriters Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Butch Hancock, along with their crack rhythm section and lead guitarist. They are all legendary songwriters and seasoned troubadours. They sounded great, trading off singing songs and then trading verses on the incredibly smoking song called "Dallas." As the Flatlanders were ending (and I was convinced that Ely wasn't going to sing Tom Russell's Gallo de Ciello, one of the 10 best songs ever) and the sun was going down I spied my companions walking back from Garrison Keillor. They reported that he was "amazing," telling one long story with a bunch of little stories tied up in it.
We decided to start making our way home, but first I had to get dinner. I stocked up on pork and bread, pasta and taters, and an orange sorbet served in an orange, as well as some coffee to gird me for the drive home.
I sat down and who should I see at the next table over but Baxter Black, Ramblin' Jack, and Don Edwards himself. As they were leaving Mr. Edwards walked right past me and I had to stand up and introduce myself. I told him how much I loved his work and that I fancied myself a bit of a cowboy singer. He was very gracious and I even gave him my card and then thanked him for the music. What a thrill!
Then as I sat down to finish eating who should walk up but Farmer Jason. This is the kid's music persona of Jason Ringenberg from the seminal 80's cow-punk band Jason and the Scorchers. I was a big fan of the Scorchers back in high school, and I had emailed him about that so he knew a little bit who I was. We talked about kid's music and stuff and were joined by Karen the promoter and Lavonne from Jason's record label.
We toasted to a successful first year and I got a photo with Jason. Then it was back to the trailer to pack up and call for a couple golf carts to take us away. We were in the car by 9 and rolled home at 11 - not too bad for a Sunday night. Overall it was quite a great day. We were treated very well by Goldenvoice and everyone we encountered couldn't have been nicer. The vibe was great and the music was top notch.