This was quite a weekend. I’m conflicted about it. My heart was out on the squares and streets where people were risking (or inviting) arrest to show their support for basic decency in a flagrantly indecent administration, to do their best to protect actual families from those who trumpet family values. I wasn’t there with them.
We were at the Kate Wolf Festival at Black Oak Ranch north of Laytonville, CA, Mendocino County, where the temperature was fizzing at 105 degrees and shade was rare, even from the black oaks. We were among about 3500 people who crave contact with the whole folk music spectrum, who are willing to forego internet and wi-fi in favor of dancing with strangers and exchanging sweaty hugs and listening to storytellers who use voice and wood and steel to keep our hearts alive.
It was not free from political expression, though. From John McCutcheon to the Indigo Girls, from Nina Gerber to Los Lobos, from Wavy Gravy to Tom Paxton, and even from those no longer dancing in the dust (Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Utah Phillips, and Kate Wolf herself), there was mention.
Look up the lyrics to Indigo Girls’ “Go Go Go” and then imagine it with their huge voices and full-throated backup.
Let John McCutcheon bring you to tears with his story about an Australian electrician.
The heat’s brutal, there’s no AC, the ground is shaped by gophers and the PortaPotties are a long walk, but still all generations are there, especially the elders. Lotta white hair on both audience and artists. And nobody, nobody gets that vibe going stronger than Wavy Gravy, unless it’s Baby Gramps, and when you get them both going, riffing together, maybe everybody should be wearing Depends.
So we were just our own big/little demonstration, turning the love and courage up to eleven, waiting to get home and Go Go Go.