I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
June 24, 2015 - 10:58 a.m.
I've been going to Clearwater since 2000, I'm not an old-timer but I'm not a newbie either. I remember when it was a Folk Festival, it was a place you'd hear Pete Seeger, Arlo, Dar, etc. Yes it had a broad idea of folk; Moxy Früvous was the band that drew me to my first one. What you didn't get was pop music. There were years where I was on a first name basis with most of the headliners. That's no longer true of course. Now the Rainbow Stage will be dominated by pop acts, think the Mavericks and Neko Case. Throw David Crosby in there too. He's paleo-pop.
I was talking to folky who was lamenting the change and missed the old festival. I told her she shouldn't. The Old Clearwater is still there. They just added to it, they did not take anything away. I spent most of my time at the Old Clearwater. I saw; Dom Flemons, Mike and Ruthy, The Klezmatics, Jay Unger & Molly Mason, Matt Turk, Fred Gillen, and Guy Davis, all on Saturday. On Sunday I saw not just obvious Old Clearwater acts like Bela Fleck & Abagail Washburn, Tom Paxton, The Kennedys, and Richard Shindell & Lucy Kaplansk, but also some that are not old time folk but totally fit the spirit, Lau, Todd Snider and the Felice Brothers. Delhi to Dublin who I saw on Saturday also fit that bill. If someone form 2000 had been transported in time to the 2015 Festival and saw those acts she'd think, "Strong lineup!"
But it now attracts so many others, people there to see Los Lobos, Citizen Cope, Joseph Arthur, and Guster. I'm not sure where to put Ani . She was outlier of the Old Clearwater. And you know what? Plenty of people saw both. Hey I saw Ani, David Crosby, and Los Lobos. I would have loved to have seen Shelby Lynne.
You can't get more Old Clearwater than the Circle of Song. Pete always said that music was something you make, not just something you listen to. It's wonderful that there's a stage dedicated to those that want to sing along.
So now you have your choice, you can hear the big acts at the big stages. You can get more intimate at the Sloop stage, and you can sing along or dance along at the Circle of Song and Dance stages. I very happy with it.
What I kept thinking was that I wish that WFUV took the same approach. I'd be delighted if they played the same mix as can be heard at Clearwater. Sure it's not all my taste. I'd be very happy to not hear Citizen Cope, but I don't have to like everything. I just wish they'd play some of the Old Clearwater. I'd love it if I could get turned onto a band like Lau on the radio. Yes I can hear that kind of music during John Platt's and Bob Sherman's shows but that's four hours a week and it's not all that they play. I suspect that part of the problem is that why I won't turn off the radio because I hear Houndmouth but others will if they hear Bela Fleck and Abagail Washburn playing 2 banjos.
Clearwater's diverse approach is worth emulating. And if you buy the tickets early or use the MetroNorth package it isn't even that expensive. Yes I'll be back next year and you should too. Don't let the music you don't like scare you away from the music you love.
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