Duel at Sunrise (or Pickin' in the Pasture)
Pickin' in the Pasture - Lodi, NY
If you're a fan of traditional bluegrass music and you've never been to Lodi, New York, mark your calendar for August 24-27 and head on over to one of my favorite festivals. It's held in the heart of New York's Finger Lakes region on a working sheep farm. One of the highlights of this year's festival is a Sunday sunrise duel between me and one TC, though he claims he'd rather have the missus' maple syrupy homemade pancakes. If it's REAL maple syrup I might join him (can't take the Yankee out of the girl, you know) (so maybe it'll be a duet instead).
This all started a while ago when TC, a member of the bluegrass bulletin board, BGRASS-L, suggested that I take my "lengthy" bluegrass posts to a more appropriate forum. This caused a stir among my loyal pals on the L, but I got to thinking that TC was close to the truth. Sista Smiff (http://sharonsmiff.blogspot.com/) told me about blogger.com, and the rest is...well, it's here. What I like about this little neck of the woods if that 1) people can read all my blah blah blah by choice and 2) I can include some (admittedly greatly reduced and dis-qualified) of my photos to go along with all my words. So what seemed like a slap in the face ended up as a Good Thing, I think. Thanks TC and sistasmiff.
I heard TC was going to be at this great little festival and so I thought...ah, revenge! I started cleaning my pistol and looking for a second. Shepherd extraordinaire (I told you..this is a working sheep farm) Andy Alexander found me one in the person of Ed who sleeps under Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass's bus and helps flatten out the bumps in that long bluegrass road. So Ed and I have been planning our strategy (how can I be sober enough for this duel after prowling the jam sessions all Saturday night with that bunch dragging my knuckles in the dust) and now TC has chickened out and threatened to toss it all aside for a steamin' plate of pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup. I reckon I'll have to join him since I can't beat him, leastways not after eatin' a mess o' pancakes. Andy, sensing a dime to be made on ticket sales, reports his advance sales are up, up, up all because of our high-profile duel. Seems the folks on the L sense a good fight when a fiesty redhead with a gutful of Rolling Rock squares off with....well, I don't even know what TC looks like, but he sure pissed me off!
Anyway, I feel pretty sure that, duel or no, the folks who bought their tickets to Pickin' in the Pasture (PIP) www.pickininthepasture.com are going to be glad they did....with two days and nights (and even late nights, no doubt) of Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass, 1946, and all the other fine bands plus the added attraction of a plethora of all night picking sessions out in the campground....well, it's good bang for your buck, folks. As you can see from the low-res photos above, it's not a teeny festival, but it's small enough to keep the "family" sort of attitude, yet large enough to produce some of the finest jams I heard all last summer (though I attended many larger festivals). The grounds are largely unshaded, but there are several tents in the concert area to provide shade for those who seek it. Most of the folks at PIP arrive in caravans and I presume they do their own cooking, but there are a few food vendors who sell good food at reasonable prices. It's a good family-style festival; a bit of drinking here and there, but nothing out of line and you'll find little babies, toddlers, teens, and on up through quite elderly folks mixed all together and getting along very nicely, thank you. You may be disappointed that there won't be a whole lot of swoop-dancers and DeadHeads there, but it's just a regular old country kind of festival so accept it and listen to the music.
Anyway, catch up on your sleep, bring along your instruments and come to Lodi prepared to have a darned good time, upstate New York-style. And who knows, you might even see me and Thom Collins square off....or at least a sheepdog demonstration (no, they don't carry placards and march around angrily)....Andy - I don't know how he does it on no sleep and a bellyful of ale - gets up early, early on Saturday and goes out there with his real live sheepdogs and shows the folks how those dogs are some of the smartest creatures on God's green earth...brilliant, actually...I'm going to get out there and watch him this year....)