Considering MerleFest 2017

Doc Watson's 'Traditional Plus' festival turns 30 years old

I made a day trip from Raleigh on Saturday specifically to feel the peace and love on the hillside. It was definitely worth the trip (though it helped that I and a couple friends managed to secure a few actual seats up close)! 

Spending half an article talking about the challenges of the Hillside Stage is pretty telling.  Someone also decided to allow campers and tents at the edge of the parking lot at the top of the hill, effectly blocking entrance from the top.  The Waybacks gave one of their legendary "album hour" concerts (the entire "Sergeant Pepper's") and it was almost impossible to find seating.  Another problem is the food tent.  The food is plentiful and with good variety, but "non-eaters" take the seats to get out of the rain (Thursday) and out of the 90-degree sun (Sat. and Sun.).  The crowd is geting so large that I wonder if the law of dimishing returns will soon cause fewer people to attend after 30 years.  The shuttle bus service was well organized, however.

Still the music can't be beat.  My favorite was Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives on Sunday.  They did several songs from their new killer album "Way Out West."  Happy Traum by himself doing a finger picking session wasn't too shabby either.  

I have been to Merlefest 6 times in 12 years starting in 2005. Always enjoyed the drive down and back from Toronto and the great music, great people and the warmer weather. But with all the "shortcomings" Kim mentions and now the feeling that I would be visiting a country whose values seem to be increasingly alien, I'm finding it hard to justify spending my de-valued dollars to make the trip. I have amazing memories that I can re-live looking at my photos and videos, but I don't see myself attending again any time soon. But, I really hope something changes to make me reconsider.

I've always found the festival scene to be less than satsifying and Merlefest sounds like a mini-Woodstock (without the benefit of drugs and alcohol).  I'd much rather see a favorite band play a full show rather than jumping from stage to stage catching three songs or so before I felt compelled to move on in an attempt to catch a little bit of everything. But that's just me and it is a hell of a long drive from Mohawk, NY.