Monday, August 31, 2015

2015 Minnesota State Fair

Erin and I went on opening day to the Minnesota State Fair this year, which is always on a Thursday.  The weather was pleasant and the crowds were bigger than I expected, with the official count at 110,000 for the day.  So sometimes there were long lines for things like food and rides, but it wasn't too bad.  I took my new Nikon Coolpix S7000 camera along and this year remembered to make sure my camera was fully charged, so I took a lot of pictures and a few movies too.  I'll just start at the beginning and go on to the end of our day photo to photo and let the narrative take care of itself.



We started our day at the Park 'n Ride at Calvary Baptist Church in Roseville, and this is what the line for the shuttle buses to the fair looked like about ten minutes after we got in it.  Glad I made it there just in time, and we only had about a 20 minute wait for the next bus.

We did first stop in the Merchandise Mart near the front entrance, where Erin found and bought a nice little cart with a removable (and washable) bag that was perfect for her to put the backpack in and walk around with. Very lightweight and small enough to handle in a crowd easily.  We were glad we got it later.


Our next stop after coming in the main gate was the Creative Arts Building, where this 17' ketch was on display at the front entrance.  A beautiful boat!


Some prize-winning entries for knitting and quilt-making on display.  There were a lot of those!


Some fun beadwork that can't help but catch the eye.


We then went into where there were vendors selling various craft-related products and came across one where you could make your own dyed silk scarf.  It looked like fun and I encouraged Erin to try it, so she did.  Here she is getting started, as she drops pigment on the surface of a water and starch mix.


 Still adding more paint and creating a pattern.

video

Then it's time to make swirls in the pigment, which I took a video of to get a better idea of what's going on.


Then the silk scarf was lowered into the water to absorb the paint.


Then after about 15 seconds, it was time to take it out!  Then it was bagged wet to later take it home to dry and then set with an iron on a low-heat setting.  Erin was glad I encouraged her to do it.


Next door to the Creative Arts building is the Education building, which we only stopped in to look at the public school art on exhibit there.  This 'cave art' piece from a Kindergartner made us smile.


Then we went to the Fine Arts building to view the art exhibit there.  We both liked the "Old School Selfie" a lot.






If a tree falls in love in a forest...


By then we were hungry, so we went over to the Hamline Church Dining Hall to have lunch.  I had a cheeseburger while Erin had the chicken dinner, with real mashed potatoes even, and all the coffee you want to drink.   It's the oldest concessionaire at the state fair at 118 years and counting.

Then, it was time to go to the Agricultural Building to see the crop art.  There was a bountiful harvest of seeds to be seen this year to be sure.  We also enjoyed learning about apple trees from the University of Minnesota Extension Service (we need to plant a new one this year) and Erin bought a couple of gardening book from another vendor there as well.  But here's the crop art:


Erin liked this one and thought her Mom would like it too, so I took a picture of it.


Celebrating a St. Paul landmark in seeds, which is certainly appropriate given the subject.


Strange and interesting, this one.


Yes Virginia, there are politics at the State Fair too.  Thankfully, it's more low key.


A nice composition, this one!


And more 'cave art' too.  Be sure to zoom in and read the story of it too, it's cute.


Saving our favorite for last, we laughed a lot when seeing this!  Of course, we are dog people, ya know.

Over in an adjacent hall from the crop art display were some scarecrows too, and here are a couple of them:


A scarecrow scarecrow.  Nicely done!


And here's 'Scary Garcia'.  LOL!

We then went over to the International Bazaar area and strolled by the vendor booths there while I had a beer and some spring rolls, but neither of us found anything there to acquire this year.  Then we started making our way down Judson past Nelson and stopped for a while at the Minnesota Public Radio booth there.


Here's Charlie Parr doing a soundcheck before his live segment on the Current at 4pm.  We both enjoyed it.

After that we decided to make our way over to the new (as of last year) West End of the fair, and on our way we did stop at a few places of interest.


At the alpaca booth, where the signs said "DON'T PET THE ANIMALS".  Like that had any effect.  They did have hand sanitizing liquid available though.

The new West End was very nice, now much more open than before, if a bit more confusing to move around in.  But the new stage was very nice for both performers and audience.


I stopped to hear an old-time country band play for a while and to drink a beer too, of course.

Then Erin and I stopped at the new glass studio booth, which now features a glass-blowing demo area too.


A great setup for glass-blowing and the guy doing the announcing was quite good and funny also.


Putting a decanter in the 'glory-hole' to soften it so it can be worked into the proper shape.


A close-up of the 'glory-hole'.  Given how far away I was from it, I'm impressed with the zoom on my new camera!

We then wandered the West End some more, and Erin got an antler from a taxidermist for Tucker to chew on, we looked at some t-shirts but didn't buy any, and then decided it was time to head for the Pet Barn on the far north end of the fairgrounds (at 320 acres, it's a BIG fair) instead of stopping at the Grandstand, as there was a show at the Pet Barn we wanted to see at 5:45pm.

We were going to take the sky chairs over, but the line there was very long and the chairs weren't moving much, so we decided to walk there instead.  I did get some pop at the R.C. stand on the way to quench my thirst and it didn't take us all that long to get there, so we had time before the 5:45 show to share a big tenderloin sandwich between us.  Then we stopped by a few vendors in the Pet Barn and got a scarf for Missy, a t-shirt for Erin from the Minnesota Humane Society and a few puppy treats to take home too.  Then it was time for the show, featuring Smith the German Shepherd.


Smith and his handler, who was very good at telling how she trained Smith as well as answering many questions from the crowd.


Demonstrating how you can get your dog to allow you to trim their nails.  As we well know ourselves, this is a very useful thing to train your dog to do.


Smith being very calm and collected while working the crowd.  The handler trusted him so much he just walked around on his own too while collecting pets from people.  A very good show, and highly recommended.  It starts at 5:45pm every day of the fair, before the St. Paul Police K-9 demonstration at 7pm, at the Pet Center.

We then walked back south, stopping to look at some cabins and sheds, then we went through the Eco Center, and then wandered over to the Home Improvement shed where Erin and I were both pleased to fine some interesting products and took home a few brochures of.

Then we shared an order of Veggie Fries and sat down in the Farmers Union to enjoy a iced frappe together while listening to a nice duo on the stage there perform.  (There's a lot of small stages spread throughout the state fair, in addition to the larger ones and the Grandstand.)  By then it was getting dark and it was time to go home, but not before catching this:


They don't call it "Minnesota's Great Get-Together" for nothing, you know.

Then we headed back on the shuttle bus to the car and drove home to some soon-to-be relieved puppies.  And fell over ourselves.



From a Country Overlooked

by Tom Hennen

There are no creatures you cannot love.
A frog calling at God
From the moon-filled ditch
As you stand on the country road in the June night.
The sound is enough to make the stars weep
With happiness.
In the morning the landscape green
Is lifted off the ground by the scent of grass.
The day is carried across its hours
Without any effort by the shining insects
That are living their secret lives.
The space between the prairie horizons
Makes us ache with its beauty.
Cottonwood leaves click in an ancient tongue
To the farthest cold dark in the universe.
The cottonwood also talks to you
Of breeze and speckled sunlight.
You are at home in these
great empty places
along with red-wing blackbirds and sloughs.
You are comfortable in this spot
so full of grace and being
that it sparkles like jewels
spilled on water.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Moon in the Window

by Dorianne Laux

I wish I could say I was the kind of child
who watched the moon from her window,
would turn toward it and wonder.
I never wondered. I read. Dark signs
that crawled toward the edge of the page.
It took me years to grow a heart
from paper and glue. All I had
was a flashlight, bright as the moon,
a white hole blazing beneath the sheets.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

the con job

by Charles Bukowski

the ground war began today
at dawn
in a desert land
far from here.
the U.S. ground troops were
largely
made up of
Blacks, Mexicans and poor
whites
most of whom had joined
the military
because it was the only job
they could find.

the ground war began today
at dawn
in a desert land
far from here
and the Blacks, Mexicans
and poor whites
were sent there
to fight and win
as on tv
and on the radio
the fat white rich newscasters
first told us all about
it
and then the fat rich white
analysts
told us
why
again
and again
and again
on almost every
tv and radio station
almost every minute
day and night
because
the Blacks, Mexicans
and poor whites
were sent there
to fight and win
at dawn
in a desert land
far enough away from
here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rebound Banjo

by Paul Hostovsky

She left him for her ex
who played the 5-string banjo
in a bluegrass band and whom
she’d left for him—and not
three months before—for a short

sweet-smelling spring,
wound him like a string around
the tuning peg of her index,
touched him and he stiffened,
and he sang. And he broke

down and wept when she went back
to her banjo-playing ex
like a second thought about
a second fiddle, a repeating
chorus or refrain. So he went out west

to forget her. But he couldn’t forget—
he saw her everywhere, saw her hands
in the hands of strangers, saw her hair
on the heads of strangers, saw her breasts
in the shapes of the Grand Tetons

high against the big Wyoming sky
at twilight. And on a side street
in Jackson, he saw it in the window
of the pawn shop, its slender neck adorned
with mother-of-pearl inlay,

its fifth tuning peg indented like
a new paragraph, a new chapter,
its pale full-moon face a blank
slate. And he bought it for fifty bucks
which included the case, capo, strap, three

fingerpicks and a Mel Bay’s Learn to Play
the Five-String Banjo book. He was
motivated. To win her back, of course.
And of course he didn’t win her back.
But he did learn to play in a frailing way

“Cripple Creek” and “Old Joe Clark”
and “Sail Away Ladies Sail Away.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

Inside

by Dan Albergotti
In the lake, the cottonmouth. In the sea, the shark.
In the soil, the growing seed. In the tree, the lark.

In the dark, the insects’ call. In the light, the trust.
In the child, the weight of years. In the steel, the rust.

In the dust, the memory. In the air, your soul.
In my head, the unsaid words. In the diamond, coal.

In the hole, your polished box. In the earth, the quake.
In my blood, your vessel ran. In these lines, its wake.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Splitting an Order

by Ted Kooser

I like to watch an old man cutting a sandwich in half,
maybe an ordinary cold roast beef on whole wheat bread,
no pickles or onion, keeping his shaky hands steady
by placing his forearms firm on the edge of the table
and using both hands, the left to hold the sandwich in place,
and the right to cut it surely, corner to corner,
observing his progress through glasses that moments before
he wiped with his napkin, and then to see him lift half
onto the extra plate that he had asked the server to bring,
and then to wait, offering the plate to his wife
while she slowly unrolls her napkin and places her spoon,
her knife and her fork in their proper places,
then smoothes the starched white napkin over her knees
and meets his eyes and holds out both old hands to him.

The Business of Crows

by Joseph Green

One of them has a discarded
half-pint milk carton
by its pinched top

and is banging it on the sidewalk.
Hopping with it, dragging it along,
he hefts it with his beak

and swings it against the concrete.
Then he pauses to inspect his work,
to adjust his grip before

picking up the carton
and smacking it down again.
Every time he hits the sidewalk

with the empty box
it makes a flat, satisfying plop.
Perhaps that’s all the crow wants,

the hollow report
he gets for his labor
confirming its emptiness.

As for me, I have stopped
on the way back to my office
to watch a crow’s involvement

with a milk carton. Sunlight,
filtering through bare trees,
stains the bird a dark blue

that slips to black
like secret ink and makes sense
only as his feathers move.

What could possibly be
more important than this?
I have no further excuses.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

2015 Winnipeg Folk Festival

     It was my 11th folk fest in ten calendar years, so it was a milestone of sorts.  Once when waiting to cross Festival Drive a young first time folk fest volunteer asked me whether I was a folk fest "lifer" and I thought about it, and said I was because I figure I'll keep on going as long as I can.  Of course I'll never catch up with Erin, who went to her 27th folk fest in 27 calendar years (only missing it back in 2000), and she's told me she'll keep on going as long as she can too. 

     We were in a bit of a rush this year to get ready for the trip because we visited Chicago the weekend before the folk fest to see a play (Soon I Will Be Invincible) and see friends there, but we at least started getting organized before that and thanks to me taking an extra day off work on Monday we were able to get everything together, except for not finding our Coleman coffee pot.  Thankfully we didn't need it, and everything (including two guitars) fit nicely into our 2004 Hyundai Elantra, which we were taking instead of the minivan because the tires on the minivan aren't long-trip worthy.  We'd arranged to have a pet-sitter in town come by two to three times a day to take care of the dogs and cat while we were gone, which worked out nicely for all concerned.

     So on Tuesday afternoon (July 7th), we left around 1:45pm for Winnipeg and managed to drive three whole blocks before remembering we'd forgotten something, which is definitely better than driving three hours instead.  (Been there, done that.)  I even remembered my favorite pillow too.  The drive through Minnesota was pleasant and uneventful, and the only real construction traffic we encountered was in Fargo, but it only held us up for about fifteen minutes.  The rest of the trip up to the border was a breeze and we got through customs without hassle, and made it to the Bhigg House in Winnipeg just after sunset.  So we had time to get settled and chat for a bit with Dave and Elizabeth Clement before going to bed around midnight.

     Wednesday morning after we'd showered and had coffee, we were off by 7am and when we made it to Bird's Hill Park we got in line and finally made it to the parking lot by 8:30am.  As it turned out, we could have left an hour later and not had to wait all that much longer to get in as there were only maybe 100 vehicles behind us.  We might as well have, since we had an advance party this year that had camped in the park overnight to get in line sooner and claim a good campsite.  I'll remember that for next year, which is why I'm mentioning it here. 
     We stopped the car where told by a volunteer and while we were waiting Dave and Elizabeth arrived and Elizabeth came up to chat with us while Dave napped, and only a half-hour after we'd gotten in line we were on our way to exchange our tickets for wristbands and enter the festival campgrounds.  We did get to hear a brass band play for us in the parking lot while we waited, and it sounded lovely out on the open prairie, which is what a lot of Bird's Hill Park has, including where we pitch our camp.

Here's a pic of the band:


     We entered the festival campground parking area and ended up parking just around where the road bends, and then got our cart out, put our first load on it, and started trudging to one of the trailheads where we assumed our camp would be near.  On the way we luckily ran into Wolfgang, who was one of the advance party, and he told us where our spot was.  We found it without any difficulty and then I went back for another load while Erin remained to set things up after we settled on a spot for our tent.   By the time I had returned with more stuff Erin with some help had already gotten the tent started. 
     By then, Dave and Elizabeth had arrived and Erin and Dave took the cart to haul Dave's gear in while I finished setting our tent up.  It was a very nice morning weather-wise too; cool with a light breeze and partly cloudy.  We did have just a light shower for about five minutes, but it felt good and five minutes after it ended everything was dry again.  After a few hours we had most everything set up except for a 10'x20' car port that hadn't arrived yet.  In the meantime, Elizabeth had brought some salmon salad and bread to make sandwiches with as well as juice to drink, so we had a nice bite to eat and got to relax for a while before the car port arrived with Karen and John, and while I went for one last load they had it up and were staking it down by the time I made it back.  So under our very own shade we sat down and had some cool drinks.  Ahh.

     Since there was no Wednesday night music this year (as there had been from 2009 to 2014), it was possible for Dave and Erin to make a run to the grocery store for food and such for the next five days, while I stayed put.  I had blown up our new used air mattress that Erin found at a garage sale, but when I laid on it an hour later it had lost air, so I gave Dave a call and told Erin to get another air mattress while they were out. 
     I then just relaxed, got my guitar out and practiced and played with Wolfgang while we all lounged around in the shade structure.  I also made a firewood run to the camp store and by the time Erin and Dave were back (with a new air mattress too) we were ready to enjoy a nice fire that Wolf started and enjoy sharing some music and time together.  It was nice to have Wednesday night back again to enjoy some Baggiecon time in the festival campground.  It was actually pretty quiet again this year compared to the wilder years I'd known before that, which was a welcome change.  It turned out to be cool night (48F) and thankfully the new mattress worked just fine and we had a good night's sleep.

Here's a pic showing Zone1A, and you can see our shade structure along the horizon and I can just make out our tent too:


     Thursday morning was quite cool with a temperature just below 50F, but eventually it warmed into the low 80s and there was a nice breeze, well, actually, a bit of south wind with gusts over 30mph.  We'd tied down all the Baggiecon tents securely but I did have to deal with a window pole on our tent that had previously been repaired but had broken again.  I kinda, sorta fixed it for awhile at least.  Meanwhile, I noted some nearby first-time folk fest campers who were finding out about the consequences of not staking down your tent.  Whee!  I first made some instant coffee for me to sip while I found the Baggiecon coffee pot and started it brewing on our camp stove, so by the time John and others were getting up there was coffee hot and ready to drink.  Since there was no music until the evening, we had the day free to wander the festival campground. 
     Erin and I went off together and since we'd recently been tent shopping and had bought a new tent for Dave Clement before the folk fest (which he liked and said was nice and airy compared to his previous tent) we took advantage of one of the largest exhibitions of tents in Canada and did some window shopping.  Boy, are there a lot of different kinds of tents, and it was actually good it was windy so we could get an idea of how well various designs coped with wind.  This is important since Erin and I are on our fifth tent in fifteen years, thanks to the winds that blow.  I was surprised at how well some of the Coleman insta-tents held up to the wind and the barrel tent designs were pretty sturdy too, although I'd heard barrel tents weren't so good at handling wind.  We had a good time asking people about how they liked their tents too and some even gave us permission to look inside as well.
     Of course we also had fun seeing all the things people were doing in various campsites.  There was a tattoo parlor (using ink with stamps), a bowling alley with glow-in-the-dark pins, a painting gallery, as well as some food trucks and a charging station for phones that was doing a brisk business, and more.  There was one site that had a barber's chair in it where they were offering to color hair with chalk, and after we saw how it was done Erin decided she wanted to add a few highlights to her platinum curls.  While that was being done, Erin was asked if she'd like to hear some singing, and she said sure, and then an impromptu barber shop quartet stood behind her and started singing "For The Longest Time" and I also joined in.  Erin had a great big smile on her face, and later said it was like being surrounded by sound.  Then with red, white and blue highlights on, she was offered some blue 'barbercide' from a vase with a comb in it, but since Erin couldn't do it because of her allergies, I got to enjoy a drink instead.  I think it tasted like Aqua Velva...   ;^)

Here's a photo of the quartet seranading another customer:


     By mid-afternoon after we made it back to camp from our tour of tents,  I was hungry and I fixed myself some PB&J sandwiches to eat and had some juice to drink.  I was a bit surprised that Shaun and Sarah hadn't arrived yet along with the premium shower gear, but thankfully I'd brought our small battery-powered shower pump so there was at least a way to wash up that didn't require standing under freezing water at one of the outdoor campground showers.  Polly did come rolling into camp though and stashed her gear in the kitchen tent.  I made a water run so we'd have water for taking showers as well as drinking and washing up (there are water taps all over the campground, but no one really know where the water lines feeding them are, so watch where you dig) and then took a shower myself, and after drying off kicked back for awhile with the guitar under the shade structure and played for an hour or so while enjoying a beer.  Or maybe two beers.  I wasn't keeping track.

     Meanwhile we were hearing far-off sounds from the festival site as sound-checks were being made, and eventually it was time to head off for the evening show.  Both Erin and I were very eager to hear an old favorite, Steeleye Span with Maddy Prior, so we all gathered together and walked over.  We set up the usual back baggie (i.e. tarp) for Dave and others and stayed there for a bit during the first band's set.  Then when they were done, Erin and I took our chairs and headed up to find a place we could sit up front and we found a good spot - usually one or two people can always find some space up front to sit, but no more than that.  Then we settled down, shared some nibbles, and enjoyed their set, which was all too short.  Maddy Prior's voice still sounds amazingly beautiful and the band was tight and both punchy and graceful in their playing.   A superb set, indeed.
     After that, the Duluth-based band Trampled By Turtles took the stage and performed a very high-energy set, perhaps a little too high, especially as the main stage speaker volume was duly turned up, along with the increased number of subwoofers that lined the front of the stage platform.  You could literally feel the bass, and while it was clean, it unfortunately muddied the overall sound.  I joke about the "Deaf Sound-Techs Union", but seriously, the company that's been running things at the fest, SoundArt, really should know better.
     The tweeners after that were the Birds of Chicago, who were very good and then Erin decided to take off back to the campsite while I stayed around a bit to listen to Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, who were fun and danceable to the dancing crowd's delight.  I hung around for about half their set and then decided to head back to camp myself.  We enjoyed another fire and some sang some songs but also noticed the main stage sound level from where we were camping, a half-mile away.  At least the ambient noise in festival camping wasn't contributing much, so it wasn't a big deal, thankfully.

     Friday after getting up and making coffee we were greeted by the wood truck, from which we'd ordered a rack of wood the day before, and wow, was it a lot of wood.  We got it as the price of $9 for just a bundle of firewood made paying $60 for a rack worth it.  Wolfgang was industrious and started stacking all the wood and then covered it with a big tarp, and we had a wall of firewood handy for the rest of the fest.  Polly arrived around 9am with a #1 tarp ticket in hand, which she gave me and since I'd showered late yesterday I could relax a little while longer before heading down at 9:45am to get in line to enter the fest grounds and do the morning tarp shuffle.  I found a nice spot up front on the left, but there was one neighbor who started putting their tarp down over ours, and I kindly, but firmly, asked them not to encroach on our space, as I was only using a 6'x8' tarp instead of up to a 8'x10' one, which is the maximum allowed under the rules.

Here's a pic I found online that has me standing next to our tarp, partially obscured behind the couple in the foreground:


     After that, I headed for the Little Stage in the Forest, where I found Polly holding a spot for me and we waited for Erin to join us to hear Leonard Sumner.  Just as he was stepping on stage Erin arrived, whew.  Sumner's a native Canadian (Anishinaabe) who does "rez poetry" (call it rap) and also played guitar and sang his songs, and he did a good, solid set that included him expounding on his experiences that was really pretty mature and thoughtful.  He was joined by a drummer and bassist too who did a fine job too.  I think Sumner is a good bet to be back next year.
     During the intermission while the next performer was getting ready on the Little Stage, Erin and I took a quick stroll over to the Spruce Hollow stage to hear a bit of the "Delusions of Banjer" workshop there, and heard some terrific banjo playing by Blind Boy Paxton for a few minutes before returning to the Little Stage to hear the weirdest performer of the festival,  Rushad Eggleston.  He's a cellist who we last heard as a member of the band Crooked Still, and now as a solo act he was free to be even crazier than he was with them, and I swear, he doesn't write lyrics as much as just open up a stream of free association.  "Purple spatulas on parade" was a line that became my in-joke with Erin for the rest of the fest.  Eggleston also roamed around the audience with his cello quite adroitly, given the uneven ground.

     Erin and I then headed over to the Green Ash stage and as we were exiting the woods we noticed it was getting pretty warm, in fact, darn hot in the midday sun.  (The high for the day was 89F.)  We'd gone over early in order to score a good spot for a 2:30pm workshop that included Steeleye Span, but given the heat we decided to sit behind the stage tent where it was shady and you could hear the stage monitors at least, so we enjoyed some tunes from the "Wicked & Weird" workshop that included Kurt Vile, who I was interested in hearing a bit of.  There was a nice breeze so under the shade of the trees it was fairly comfortable and we relaxed there for about 40 minutes, and when the workshop ended at 2pm we got up and headed for the front of the stage and managed to find a shady spot behind the sound booth where we sat and held a spot for Dave Clement, who was going to join us there after he and Elizabeth got back from a swim in the nearby lake.
     While we waited as the usual sound check was taking place on stage, I had a nice conversation with another person who was also from the Twin Cities and had been coming to the folk fest for almost thirty years.  For all the talk about the fest needing to appeal to a younger crowd, there are quite a few lifers that do keep coming, and I hope that's not taken for granted by the organizers.  Erin and I kept a lookout for Dave and Elizabeth and we were getting a little concerned, but just as the workshop's MC was introducing everyone we spotted them and I got up to help them find our spot and we were all set.
     The MC for the workshop (titled "Folk Baroque") was Robyn Hitchcock, who was delightfully droll and while not a great singer (Erin said he sang flat) he did sing some fun songs that helped leaven the mix of the other two bands, Steeleye Span and RURA, a celtic band from Scotland.  It was a great, great set of folk rock from Steeleye Span and jigs from RURA and humor from Hitchcock, and there was some fine jamming too.  Only thing more we could have asked was for Steeleye Span to do "All Around My Hat" after Dave requested it.  The workshop was an hour and fifteen minutes long, but we would have gladly stayed for more.
      After the encore (of course there was an encore!) Erin and Dave wanted to get something to eat and I wanted a break but also wanted a shower, so I headed back to camp for a bit, although I was tempted to go hear Kurt Vile's solo concert.  There's so much going on that missing some things just can't be helped.  Back in camp I took a quick shower and changed clothes, and then lounged in the shade structure and chatted with Karen and John, and later Lana who was taking it easy in the heat herself.  Shaun and Sarah also had arrived after a delayed start from home and were hauling gear in from their car.  I had a bit to eat and a nice cold beer before heading back to the fest site for the first Main Stage act of the night.

     I rendezvoused with Erin, Dave, Elizabeth and Kat at the back baggie just before 6pm, and after talking with them for a bit went up to the front baggie (i.e. tarp) and sat with Polly and listened to the first act of the night, Dustbowl Revival, an octet from Los Angeles that played old-time music in a new-timey way, and they were hugely entertaining.  The first tweener, Dan Champagne, did some phenomenal solo guitar playing next.  The next act up, Shakey Graves, was o.k. but not as great.  The next tweeners, Les Soeurs Boulay, two sisters from Quebec as you might guess, were wonderful singers and I made a mental note to hear them again later.  Then it was Jason Isbell, who had a good band, is a good singer, and writes great songs too.  But every single one of them was a downer, and there's only so much of that one can take.  I felt like tossing some Prozac up on stage.  Then when it was time for the next act, Matt Anderson, a good blues singer, my mood was such that I wanted to head back to camp and have a beer, then sit around the fire and have some fun playing guitar and singing.  It had been a hot day, but the night was wonderfully balmy and we were all in our t-shirts and shorts long past midnight, and there was enough of a breeze that mosquitoes weren't a problem at all.  It was also nice to be able to keep tossing wood on the fire instead of nursing it, thanks to our ample supply.  Dave, Wolfgang and I played and Lana joined us to sing, until Dave decided to bag it since it had been a long hot day and he needed get some sleep, and soon after I bagged it too.

     Saturday dawned nice and warm again, but still with enough breeze to make it comfy in the shade, where I spent a fair amount of time during the folk fest.  That, and being sure to use sunscreen daily kept me from getting sunburned, unlike plenty of other people I saw in the campground.  I do tan nicely enough, but it's not fun trying to sleep when burned.
     I did the usual tarp shuffle at 10:15am (after getting another #1 ticket from Polly) and while Erin was at another workshop I went to the Bur Oak stage for the "World on a String" workshop that included RURA and BardeFou from Quebec and Sondorgo, a band from Hungary.  I have to say I didn't miss Erin as all three bands were great and jammed together too.  Sondorgo was especially good, fast, tight and gave a bravura performance, but the other musicians had fun joining in as well.  Here's some photos I took from the front row, first of BardeFou and then Sondorgo and RURA:


      Erin and I had agreed to meet at the Shady Grove stage at 1pm to hear Birds of Chicago perform, and I got there first and found a spot to watch for Erin from and... she found another spot to watch for me from.  Luckily, Erin got up and happened to see me a few songs into the set, and she moved to where I was since there was just enough shade for the two of us.  We were sitting next a staked off area in the shrubs and Erin saw there was a paper wasp nest in the undergrowth, which was obviously the reason why it was being protected.  It wasn't easy to see, but there were wasps coming and going from it too.  But we left them alone and so did they and we enjoyed the show.  It kind of epitomizes the folk fest ethic of live and let live, as I'm sure at another festival the nest would have been eradicated out of fear of someone being stung, and invoking the dread L word, liability.



     After that, we didn't have a strong preference about what to do next so we drifted back over to the rear of the Green Ash stage where we could listen to the "Nobody Loves Me but My Mother" blues workshop and while we were there I also started reading a book by Michael Perry of short essays he'd written for a radio show (Tent Show Radio) he hosted, and it was excellent reading to go with the music, short and sweet, funny and poignant too.  We finished up some gorp while resting in the shade and decided we'd both go over to hear what sounded like an interesting workshop of a performance of an entire album by The Band, Stage Fright.
     Given that shade was in high demand on another hot day, we headed over early to the Big Bluestem stage to claim some and we were lucky enough to find a decent spot.  It was off to the far right of the stage but you could hear well enough if not see anything, and Erin settled in herself for some reading while I got some water from a nearby tap.  Then the show started, featuring Robyn Hitchcock with the band The Sadies, and they did a really fine job of making something that might otherwise be boring very interesting and fun.  Hitchcock handled the introduction chores for each song on the album and was informative while also cracking the audience up with his off-beat humor.  Hitchcock's voice was actually a good match for the material as well, with help from members of The Sadies singing as well, and The Sadies did a great job of getting the feel of The Band's sound down.  They ripped through the entire album in what seemed like no time at all, and came back for two encores, the first being a song from their next project, a similar treatment of The Byrd's 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the song being one of Gram Parsons' from it that has me hoping they'll be back in Winnipeg next year.  Then the did Bob Dylan's song Maggie's Farm which had the crowd rockin' on it's feet.  Well, not Erin's as she elected to stay seated while I walked over to stand and hear the last few numbers myself.  Another great set.

     By then I was pretty hot and thirsty, and since the first two Main Stage acts of the evening weren't something I just had to hear, I headed back to camp leaving Erin to the back baggie for the time being.  A nice warm shower was had, too warm actually.  I should have mixed in some cooler water first.  But a couple of cold beers afterwards helped, and I sat and talked with other Baggiecon stragglers under the shade structure for an hour or so.  A little after 7pm it was time to head back down because after 8pm Arlo Guthrie was on and Erin and I were definitely going up to the front baggie to hear him on what was being billed as the 50th Anniversary Tour of Alice's Restaurant.  I found Erin at the back baggie with Dave Clement and others, and we went on up for Arlo.
     I'd chatted briefly with a couple who were talking about pickles on the way to the fest site earlier, and just before Arlo and band were taking the stage there were pickles being tossed out into the audience from stage right, which was fun and thankfully injury-free.  Of course Arlo's first number was about motorcycles and pickles, naturally.  After a few numbers and a bit of stage patter, Arlo got around to telling the story about Alice's restaurant and the littering, the draft board, the sixteen 8 by 10 glossy pictures, and of course it never gets old and Arlo is as gifted a gabber as ever.  Of course there was an encore and Arlo did his father's song "This Land Is Your Land" to the tune of Canadian geography and had thousands on their feet joining him in singing it too.  Best moment of the fest, and darn it, there should be more crowds singing in my humble opinion.
     The next act up was a quiet guitarist and singer, Jose Gonzales, who I'd not heard of but evidently many in the audience around me were familiar with him.  He was a good guitarist and had a pleasant voice, but there wasn't much charisma and after Arlo, well, it came across a little flat emotionally.  That sure changed when the next tweener turned out to be Rushad Eggleston, who was of course wild and crazy, possibly a little TOO crazy, but he went over well.  By then Erin and I were ready to head back to camp so we skipped the last act of the night on Main Stage and packed it in.

     Back at camp though you could hear the Main Stage loud and clear, and when Karen got her iPhone out to check the decible level it was around 81 decibels, which is normal conversational level.  Maybe they might want to consider dialing the volume back from 10 to 8 next year, but probably what we'll get is it being turned up to 11.  Thankfully the festival camping area was actually not loud.  No trap drums, no yelling, just the sound of singing and picking mostly.  Erin said it was definitely more like the old days in the 1990s before it got wild in the early 2000s for a decade or so.  The hot day had turned into a beautifully warm night with just the right amount of breeze and we had plenty of firewood to burn, so we were up late playing and singing around the fire, and we were joined first by a friend of Dave's, who was also named Dave, who played a concertina and was the leader of one of the bands Dave Clement has been playing in lately.  He was wonderful and it was nice to have another instrument in the mix.  We also had a guitarist wander in and join the circle and he played a few of his own songs for us and they were moody but nice.
      By 1:30am things broke up as Dave needed his rest and Erin did too, but I stayed up a while longer burning more wood and reading more from my Michael Perry book before turning in myself.  I was half-hoping for some northern lights but didn't see any, but I tracked a few satellites at least and that was nice.  A wonderful day, all in all.

     Sunday it was deja vu all over again with another #1 tarp ticket and another 10:15am tarp run, but one fun thing was getting to hear the brass band play for us while the crowd was waiting for the gates to the festival grounds to open.  Erin wasn't with me as she and Lana wanted to spend some time together going around to see all the art installations that were scattered around the festival site before it got too hot.  That was a good thing, because Sunday was the hottest day of the festival, hitting 90F, but at least there was a good breeze that helped keep it from being unbearable.  I was happy that Dave and Elizabeth were going swimming every morning, since Dave doesn't tolerate such heat well.
     That left me free to go hear one of the Main Stage tweeners I'd liked earlier, Les Soeurs Boulay, a sisters duo from Quebec, at the Bur Oak stage.  I was there early enough to find a spot in the shade in the very front row and settled down with a big bottle of water for the show.  They did speak in English to introduce themselves and talk about their songs, but every song they performed was in French, and every one was lovely.  Their voices and harmonizing were beautiful and they played guitar, ukulele, a kick drum and a few other instruments as well and accompanied themselves quite well.  And they were, umm, very pleasant to look at too, as you can see for yourself.


     After such sweetness, I was in the mood for something a little different, and headed over to the Shady Grove stage, which was also nicely shady, to hear the "I Get a Kick Out of You" workshop which was fun and a bit irreverent, a nice counterpoint to the previous set.  After it ended, I found Erin and Dave and we had a bit of time together before Erin and Dave went off to hear RURA do a concert at the Snowberry stage, and because I'd seen RURA already I headed over to Green Ash for the "California Dreamin'" workshop there at 2:30pm.   It was supposed to have included Jenny Lewis from Cali, but her flight to Winnipeg had been delayed so the band Dustbowl Revival, being from Los Angeles, filled in and frankly I liked them better as they added a lot of variety to what was a fairly singer-songwriter heavy workshop.  Not that I minded, since Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes was there by himself and I really enjoyed hearing him play solo, and the host, Steve Poltz, was delightfully funny both in his songs and his stage patter.  The sun was scortching but the music was mellow, well, except when Dustbowl Revivial was playing that is.
     I considered going to hear Robyn Hitchcock's solo concert after that, but it had been very hot and since I had heard him already I decided to go back to camp, clean up and relax a bit, and then come back down to the Main Stage at 6pm when Dawes, a band I've liked a lot for some years, was scheduled to play.  By then it was also starting to cloud up, and you know what that means on a hot prairie afternoon.  But for now at least, it was still sunny and hot.
     I met up with Erin again and we and Polly went up to the front baggie for Dawes.  But man, the sound was REALLY cranked up now and after about two minutes of the opening number Erin said it was too loud for her and she was heading back to the back baggie.  I wasn't happy about it either, but I stayed and heard a really much more rock-sounding set from Dawes, a real change from their early days as a more folk-rock sounding band and more rocky than when I'd heard them at the folk fest back in 2011.  But they were tight and their singing and playing was good, and the addition of another guitarist worked well.  I noticed something written on the new guitarist's guitar strap and was able to make it out as spelling "BETTS" and after a minute it occurred to me that hey, he did resemble Dicky Betts of the famed Allman Brothers Band.  I found out later that sure enough, it was Dicky's son.  He was a very tasteful and fluid player and added a lot to the band.


     After Dawes, Jenny Lewis was up and while she performed a very nice set and her band was quite good, I didn't really connect with her songs.  In the meantime I noted dark clouds building on the southern horizon while the south wind blew, and things were beginning to look ominous.  By the end of Lewis' set I looked at Polly who was also with me on the front baggie and said that maybe we should go, even though that would mean missing the last act of the night, Wilco, who I had wanted to hear.  But when you see this, I knew what was coming and that it was time to pack it in.


     While we were pulling the tarp up and walking out, we did get to hear the last tweener of the fest, Steve Poltz, do his thing and he was hilarious to listen to as we started making our way back to camp.  We weren't the only ones, but many were staying, hoping that the storm would miss the fest as it did on Saturday when we'd had a light shower during Arlo Guthrie's show.  Polly and I made it back to camp after about fifteen minutes and just as we got there it started raining and blowing hard.  I went to pull some of our gear into our tent from where it had been lying under the vestibule and after getting it in noticed how hard it was blowing and thought it would be wise to stay inside and support the windward side of the tent and, as it turned out, mop up some water that was blowing in and seeping through a seam.  (We HAD seam sealer we were going to put on earlier, but did we?  Nooo.)  After about fifteen minutes or so of this, it did start to relent a bit and I dashed over to the shade structure to join the rest of the Baggiecon crew, and we went ahead and sand our traditional closing song, Ripple, and then Karen and John took all the fruit they could find, put it in a big bowl, and dumped the better part of a fifth of Screetch (a.k.a. booze) in it and it was pretty good.
     After about an hour or so it did stop raining and pretty soon we had a nice bonny fire going and we did a bit more singing before turning in.  We'd heard by then from other campers coming back that after Wilco had played only three songs the storm had hit and it was bad enough that they just closed the fest immediately, which was a bummer but stuff happens.  I was up for a little longer burning a few more pieces of wood in the fire and wishing it wasn't all over, more so than usual.  Despite the heat and the closing storm, I'd had a great time and I think almost everyone else this year did too.

     There was more rain overnight so everything was wet when we woke up Monday morning, but by 9am the sun came out and with the help of a light north wind it dried up quickly and we were able to pack everything away dry, and we headed out of the park just before 1pm after saying our goodbyes.  We made a stop on the way back to the Bhigg House at a Tim Horton's for lunch with Dave and Elizabeth, and then when we got back Elizabeth, Dave and I spent some time sorting gear out and putting it away in the garage while Erin did laundry and then we all pretty much crashed out for the rest of the afternoon.
     The usual Dead Mouse party on Monday night was a quiet affair this year as only Erin and I were staying over an extra day in Winnipeg this year, so we ended up ordering pizza for dinner, and Wolfgang dropped by to join us.  After we finished eating around 9pm I suggested we play 10,000 (a dice game) and everyone liked that idea, and after a long end game Erin eventually hit the magic number after Elizabeth almost won after coming from behind at the very end.
      Donna Teed and Terry Salt dropped by to chat also and they invited us to have a quick visit at their home on the southern outskirts of Winnipeg, so we went and had a nice time seeing their very pretty house, including a big back yard that Donna said our dogs could play in when we visit again.   Then they took us back to the Bhigg House and we finally went to bed as we were pretty tired out after six days of fun under the hot summer sun.
      A few extraneous notes: Erin and I ended up getting several CDs from Dustbowl Revival, Les Soeurs Boulay, Steve Poltz, Steeleye Span, and more as the festival music store put a lot of older CDs on clearance this year.  So we had our fair share of merch, although we didn't get any t-shirts or mugs this year.  We'd done some shopping in the Hand-Made Village this year but we didn't indulge ourselves.  I was lucky enough to get a free beer thanks to Polly finding a beer tent ticket lying on the ground that she gave to me, and I had a nice IPA with some chickpea curry that was delicious.  The food overall at the fest is pretty tasty and good for you too, mostly, although I still miss the dragon bowls at Mondragon.

     Tuesday morning after getting up and having some coffee then packing our bags for the trip home, Erin and I along with Dave and Elizabeth went to Bernstein's Deli on Corydon Avenue, which has become our go-to place for our last breakfast in Winnipeg after the fest now that Doxy's is gone.  Donna also dropped by to see us there too, and then we went back to the Bhigg House one last time before leaving town.  Hugs.
      The stop at the border went quickly enough, although there was some confusion about my car, which their database said was licensed in Minnesota.  Well, it used to be up to last December, but when I bought it I then retitled it in Wisconsin.  Thankfully I had my car's registration papers in the glove box so everything was sorted out.  I was a bit surprised when the U.S. Customs agent while asking us a few questions mentioned that I had been a truck driver, and I did say I had been one - but didn't add that it was back in the 1970s.  Obviously, they have it in their file on me now.  Welcome back to the Panopticon, er, good ol' U.S. of A., citizen!
     The rest of the drive back home was uneventful and we enjoyed listening to some of the CD's we bought at the fest, and I did like the Les Soeurs Boulay CD very much and so did Erin, who wound up sleeping for a couple of hours between Fargo and St. Cloud.  We made it back as the sun was setting and the dogs and the cat were very happy to see us again, and the dogs were glad that we kept coming back in the house each time we went out to the car to get a load to carry back inside. Eight human days is like 56 in dog days, so they were very lonely, even with visits twice a day from our dog sitter.

      And that's The End.  Here's one for the dragonflies, who blessed us all again this year.