I just couldn’t help myself this week. Sometimes there are things that just can’t help but remind you of better times; indeed, some of the best times of your life. That is precisely what happened this week. It all started a couple of weeks ago when a promoter for StereoTerra asked me if he could put up a poster promoting the new music festival in the store (for those not in the know, in my off-line life I manage a convenience store open 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week, 365, and yes, we happen to sell gas). I directed him to the adhoc bulletin board back by the bathrooms only to later realize he plastered several posters in strategic places around the store, which I had to promptly take down (unfortunately). Despite this simple act of deception, I was intrigued. He obviously believed in what he was promoting. He even gave me and members of my crew free passes for the entire four day music festival.
For the record, StereoTerra is at this very moment being held in the aptly named Edenville, Michigan, a very small town set among several manmade lakes along the Tittabawassee River in mid-Michigan. It is close enough that I’ve watched in amusement all week as 20-something wannabe hippies, eclectic band members, all manner of kids gearing up for a very long weekend of debauchery came parading through the store, huge Chevy vans and canoes in tow. I loved every minute of it, and so did my crew. And so the rumors flew.
Supposedly the good residents of Edenville did not want this four day music festival to happen. It might have something to do with the hours. StereoTerra’s eclectic line-up, which includes indie rock, folk, country, alternative, and just about everything in between, is set to run Thursday August 16th – Sunday August 19th 10 AM – 2 AM. Well, as Edenville supposedly fought the festival, Midland County stepped in to help ensure the festival would happen. Supposedly promoters spent tens of thousands of dollars clearing land for camping and venues for the music festival. It became a simple matter of economics. Midland County wanted the money, despite the threat of noise. Heaven forbid anything takes place after 9 PM!
More than anything, I hope the festival is successful. If all goes well, it is to become an annual event. Michigan needs events like these, especially rural Michigan. I have to say, even though I didn’t make use of my free pass, just the fact that StereoTerra is taking place so close to home, at this very moment, brings back so many wonderful memories.
Ten long years ago I was in the exact right place at the exact right time with the exact right people. I was living in Austin, Texas at the time and had the inside scoop for the first annual Austin City Limits Festival, held in Zilker Park, August 2002. Ten years later, the festival is still going strong, despite rumors of it becoming much more commercial. The funny thing is that I didn’t recognize many acts at the first ACL Fest, with the exception of Shawn Colvin (which is another story all together). Today, what I wouldn’t give to see the lineup they have for ACL Fest 2012! Jack White, of the White Stripes, Weezer, and most impressive of all, The Red Hot Chili Peppers are all in the lineup. I honestly don’t know how I would’ve handled that lineup back then. At the time, they happened to be three of my favorite bands.
So why do I have such fond memories of ACL Fest? Several reasons. First off, I hit the festival with two of my best friends in Austin, Andy and Cheryl. Andy had a radio show on KOOP at the time, and Cheryl happened to be his manager. We weren’t just your run of the mill kids who happened to be fans. All three of us took music pretty seriously, but certainly not seriously enough not to have an amazing time. On the first day Cheryl happened to lose her cell phone in the crowd. As Andy, Cheryl, and I scoured the ground for her phone, Cheryl lost track of me. After she found me, she told me a story that still lives on in legend. Supposedly she saw a women, a women who happened to look JUST like me, jump on stage during Bob Schneider’s set. This woman supposedly flashed him. Somehow, under the influence of the strong Texas summer sun, Cheryl and I decided it would be fun to let Andy believe I flashed Bob Schneider. At the time, Bob Schneider fronted several successful bands in Austin, including The Scabs and the Ugly Americans. As you can see here, he is extremely good looking and still going strong. Oh, and he’s talented too. So yes, when we finally found Andy, Cheryl told him I’d flashed Bob Schneider. I wish.
After one long day in the sun, goofing off, and listening to great music with friends, Andy and I went back for round two. In the middle of the day we happened to be waiting for Shawn Colvin’s set when Andy did what he always did best. Talk. After he and I set out my quilt on the grass near the stage, he struck up a conversation with a group of very young soldiers from Fort Hood. They were just a couple of years younger than me, probably ages 18-20 at the time. More than anything they were incredibly angry they could be sent to Iraq at any time, and yet they couldn’t buy a beer on an insanely hot August day in Texas. I think of those young men often and wonder how many of them served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Were some them still stationed at Fort Hood when terrorism hit Kileen? I will never know.
As the sun went down, Andy and I decided to move on. We followed the throngs of people leaving Zilker Park and ended up hanging out at Shady Grove on Barton Springs. The funny thing is that Shady Grove was packed. Somehow they were letting people order takeout and set up on the lawn. That is exactly what Andy and I did, throwing back Bohemia, the best Mexican beer I’ve ever had, and eating takeout. That unique dining experience topped off an amazing weekend. You just can’t beat an August music festival.
- Volume at music festival to drop after complaints (sfgate.com)
- Mid- Michigan music festival prompts residents to complain about noise level (clickondetroit.com)
- Austin extends ACL Music Festival by a weekend (chron.com)
- Council OKs extra ACL fest weekend (statesman.com)
- ACL Fest will be TWO weekends in 2013; this year is sold out (brooklynvegan.com)