I was recently chatting with my pal Stuart Kabak, about the upcoming Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and somehow we drifted into reminiscing about Woodstock. (the original, not the wannabes) It was my first festival and I really didn’t know what to expect. A lot of people coming to Falcon Ridge for the first time, also don’t know what to expect on their first visit. The similarity brought back many fond memories.
1) It was just about this time of year. Woodstock began 46 years ago on August 15, 1969
3) People are soooooooo nice! Seriously. This is a real community. Woodstock was forged out of some adversity. Severely under forecast supplies of food and even water made sharing imperative. People are better prepared at Falcon Ridge, but still quick to help with advice, a sandwich, or some hands to set up your tent.
4) The music is fantastic! This year Falcon Ridge has music legends like Judy Collins, Garnet Rogers, and Ann Armstrong are appearing along with many breakout new acts like Matt Nakoa, Haley Reardon, and Caitlin Canty. People forget that many of the “Stars” of Woodstock were nobodies back then. Santana was a local Bay Area band. The drummer, Michael Shrieve was only 16 years old at the time and they were paid $750 to appear. Melanie, Sha Na Na and Keef Hartley were all paid less than a thousand bucks. John Sebastion got a thousand and the Grateful Dead were paid $2500. These groups went on to become household names, but everybody starts somewhere. Appearing at music festivals like Woodstock and Falcon Ridge make a great introduction to a hillside of new fans all at once. Here is the full performers list for this year’s festival.
5) The music goes all night. At Woodstock, this was mostly a result of poor planning and transportation logistics. It was a huge endeavor and nothing got done on time, The Who went on stage at 3am. (Probably not the best time slot, but they made the most of it.) By contrast, at Falcon Ridge, everything runs like clockwork. Under the watchful eye of Stage Manager Donna Grande, the Falcon Ridge main stage is always on time. But there is plenty of music after hours. The campground is alive with song circles and events, well into the wee hours. Camps like Pirate Camp (originally started by songwriting luminary Jack Hardy, and now ably coordinated by Stuart Kabak and Michael Kornfeld) has a covered performance, nice lighting, and an actual schedule chocked full of the some of the best performers around. Other music spaces like the Budgiedome and the Front Porch are the tip of the iceberg. The Lounge Stage on Thursday night outgrew the campground and is moving the dance tent this year. The campground is a smorgasbord of musical talent, presented in the most intimate situation. You are often a dozen feet away from the performers, Woodstock couldn’t offer that.
6) People LOVE to dance! At Falcon Ridge there is actually a dance tent, full of dance music all weekend long.Dancers at Woodstock got muddy and fell down a lot. Either way, people LOVE to dance.
7) You might get wet. It’s the northeast in the summer. Over the quarter century of the festival, we have had wet years and dry years. Most years, we get a little of each. I don’t think our rain has ever exceeded the mud factor at Woodstock. Unless you are the Wicked Witch of the West, a little water won’t kill you. Get over it…
8) You make memories that last a lifetime. This kind of events, full of friends, fun, and great music; are the source of my dearest memories.
There is at least one glaring difference between Woodstock and Falcon Ridge. Woodstock was stillborn. Finished almost before it began. A beautiful, historic, Quixotic stab at 3 days of Peace and Music. But Falcon Ridge lives on, delighting families for over a quarter of a century. Food, water, logistics, public safety issues are all well in hand, making it safe family fun for kids and adults alike. There are now a whole generation of Falcon Ridge Babies. Many of whom have been to the festival every single year they have been alive. Two of them wrote the welcome message for this year’s program book. I spoke with another Ridge Baby recently. Allie Sibner. Organic gardener, yoga and dance instructor, social activist, a senior at George Mason University studying Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and a volunteer on the Falcon Ridge sign crew. She calls it her “Religious Holiday” and hasn’t missed one. Falcon Ridge is a part of her that glows year round, living the dream of a better, peaceful, more musical world. Is there a better legacy for you and your children?
Here is the welcome message from this year’s festival flyer, written by Ridge Babies Delia Drake and Albie Murri:
Welcome to the Twenty-Seventh Annual Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
Welcome fellow festival goers! For those of you who have just taken your first steps inside the main gate, welcome in! For those of you who have been attending Falcon Ridge for quite some time like ourselves, welcome back! If you’ve been here before, what goes on should be of no news to you. If this is your first time coming, though, then let us fill you in on what happens here.
Falcon Ridge is a way to express yourself. Through music, dancing, art, or whichever other way you spend your time here, you’re expressing who you truly are. You’re not limited by what society’s standards of “normal” are, or any expectations you’re supposed to live up to. When you’re here, the rules are flipped upside down. You can be yourself, instead of acting for everyone else. You can unwind, listen to some great music, let loose in the dance tent, eat great food, meet amazing people, and look at all the amazing crafts that the vendors have to offer. It’s truly a different experience to our lives outside of here, but it’s a needed experience so that for the rest of the year, while longing for the festival to come around again, we can live our normal lives with all the great memories that we’ve made here. Adapting to and from it is hard, though. Going from a place where people won’t give you the time of day on the street, to a place where you’ll be singing, dancing, and bonding with fellow festival goers over what you both love, is quite a change.
This is the 18th Falcon Ridge that we have attended, even though we’re both 17. We achieved this by having great parents who brought us here when we were both infants, so that we logged our first festival before our first birthdays. Growing up, we always looked forward to the festival so that we could see each other, and we still do, 17 years later. The friendships made here are special, and even though you may see one another for one weekend of the year, they’re some of the strongest because of all the memories you have together.
While you’re here, talk to someone new. Listen to an artist or band you haven’t heard before. Try out a dance you’ve never done. Look at interesting vendors. Try the great food. Burst out of your shell, and make some memories that will last a lifetime. We know we will be, and we would love for you to join us and everyone else, as we make the most out of this special weekend that we possibly can.
Delia Drake and Albie Murri
(videos make take a while to load)
(but they should pop up here…)