- Echoes
      - Whispers
      - Ink



N E W S O N G    F E S T I V A L    2 0 0 4

I had such a great time at the 2003 NewSong Mountain Stage Festival that I decided to go again this year.

Unfortunately, gal pal Cindi was unable to attend this year...some silly thing about needing to work! (How dare they!). But I decided anyway to brave the portapotties, the hayfield camping area, the process of setting up a "real" tent, and scavenging food and morning coffee (!)...all on my own. Woof! I am woman--watch me camp!

The six-hour drive gave me plenty of time to listen to my favorite cds as well as some that I'd acquired through music swaps throughout the last year, including NewSong 2003. Ahhhh...memories...! It was fun to anticipate perhaps running into songwriter friends I had made this past year. Would they be there?

The drive to Charlestown was blessedly uneventful...although I DID run into a nice man at a turnpike stop food counter who volunteered to me that he was "hauling Mormons"...! Funny...I had never thought of human beings being described as a trucker's "load"... I think this concept is inspiring a song...

This year, I actually remembered to sign up for the contest when I arrived (last year's arrival was a bit of a psychological shock and panic...but I was better prepared for "bidnez" this year). Then it was time to set up the tent...

With the exception of tripping over a sharp, metal tent peg which scraped and bloodied my knee, I did fine...until it was time to actually LIFT the tent. (Last year's "souvenir bruise" was a scar from an unruly, octopus-style weed whose tentacles reached up and grabbed my shoe as I blindly stumbled in the black of night to the portapotty. Yes, it's a lovely scar, and I'll show you if you ask to see it.)

As you can see by the photo, my tent is kind of a "retro" model--complete with long spider leg poles and dangerous ground pegs. These tents are NOT designed for one-person erection...! Mercifully, a helpful neighbor (Pat? Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of him and his wife) "pitched" in (yes, that WAS an intentional pun) and, after several attempts at connecting the poles in the right order (for future reference, it's: long, short, bent, long!), and trying different positioning options (are these supposed to cross??), we finally got the tent raised. Time to decorate!! (metallic blue "car lot" streamers...and a pink flamingo atop the tent peak)

My visit to NewSong in 2003 was my first foray into songwriter workshops...so I tried to go everywhere and do everything that weekend. And I had a ball! But this year had been an extremely busy one for me (being involved in two back-to-back theatre productions, coupled with the annual summer craziness of color guard), so I was ready for a break! The fact that I was "flying solo" at this year's event also seemed to me to be God's way of saying, "...rest..." So my approach to this year's event was a little different: As tempting as the schedule of workshops and performers seemed, I mentally bookmarked a select few in which I was interested, and then prepared to simply "Be" for the rest of the weekend, enjoying NOT having my time scheduled for a change.

It was just what I needed! I was fortunate to have some delightful "tent neighbors"--Nikki Rouse and a man we christened, "CJBob" (Chris, Jude... We couldn't figure out which of his names he liked using best, so we gave him our own...)--and we spent a lot of the weekend just hanging out together at the campsite. Nikki turned out to be a very kindred spirit, and CJ was very high energy...and decked OUT to camp!! (The man had an entire pickup truck's worth of supplies. I swear he brought his entire home with him!) He was also very generous with his supplies, and the five of us (including the afore-mentioned tent-raiser Pat and wife Judy?) had a neat little "camp co-op" going--what one person needed but didn't have, one of the others of us did, and shared willingly.

I was slated to play at the Blue Cardinal Friday night, and I did...but I was probably the 3rd last to go on, putting me onstage somewhere around 3 a.m.! My thanks to all who stayed to catch my song, "Fireman" and my contest song, "You Are". (My contest slot Saturday afternoon went fine. Not my best job, but some folks still seemed to like the song very much. I didn't make it to the semi-finals, but I'm always just glad to be allowed to perform. There is so much talent out there with whom I know I'll never be "on par." But I've learned to appreciate that we all have different strengths and that we offer different viewpoints... That's been a healthy shift in my perspective over the years.)

I also made a point of attending Susan Werner's, Darrell Scott's, and Buck Brown's workshops. I really dig the way Susan is writing "old songs"--I love that style. Darrell had some good songs to share and was also gracious enough to pose for this picture. Buck Brown just amazed me with his energy, and his passion for teaching. When we had to clear the room for the next workshop, he took those of us reluctant to end the session to a place outside, under the trees, and worked with us for another hour! How unexpectedly above-and-beyond! I highly recommend his sessions, but be prepared--Buck won't sugar-coat the truth about the music business or what he considers "lame" guitar work in a song. Yet he never "beats anyone up" while doing so. He's great to hear perform, too!

But the highlight of my weekend were the song circles. I enjoyed some time with The Baltimore Songwriters Association during a rainy Friday night. A very supportive and friendly group. It was nice re-connecting with a friend from NewSong 2003--Don Baker--who was also seeking shelter from the storm that night under their sprawling canopy. Don brought his brother with him this year (Ray?). Don doesn't yet have a web site, but if you like genuine country, you will LOVE this man's songs. Even the BSA folks were impressed... His cd is called, "Quiet Man". Contact me and I'll have him get in touch...

Saturday night was best of all--we had a roaring fire in the "designated" community fire pit and jammed, literally, ALL NIGHT LONG. People came and went throughout the evening and the ever-changing crowd listened, shared songs and wine, harmonized, clapped, and had a WONDERFUL time. I met Heather of ILYAIMY and Sarah Guthrie and a host of others who slipped in and out of the circle on their way to and from the main stage concerts and the happenings at the Blue Cardinal Cafe. We watched as the stars slowly got swallowed by the morning light. It was a soul-feeding evening, and just what I'd needed for months!

Nikki has sent me some lyrics, which I'm currently working on recording. I hope to post, "I've Got My Red Shoes On" on my Listen page on this site in the near future.

If you were part of this year's Festival and want to drop a line to say, "Hi", I'd love to hear from you! Maybe we can add some of your photos and recollections to this page. Email me!

See you next year!

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