Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Observing the Tribe

Just finished a great Festival weekend at Planet Dungog, playing with 2 duo's ..... Ruby Blue with Anousha Victoire ..... and 2PieceSweet with Kathy Clarke.   Like all good music festivals, I came away feeling totally exhausted, creatively overwhelmed, and musically sated.

This time, I shared the weekend with my lovely man and thus was able to experience the festival through his 'first time' perspective and it caused me to reflect on many unique aspects of a festival environment.   Like:
  • the extraordinary range of characters that come together in a shared love of and passion for music.  That you could be sitting next to, striking up a conversation with, or camping beside somebody that in the real world you would never have the opportunity to connect with.... medical students conversing on equal level with a famous surgeon, well known medico, hospital cleaner.....world-traveled geo-technical experts learning a new tune from a man who drives a tractor for a living, ..... 70year old's learning from 16year old's ......and on it goes
  • the tribal nature of such a gathering ....that there are so many points of etiquette followed in such an informal, almost chaotically creative, and seemingly 'no-rules' environment.....and where there is a sense of 'pecking order' amongst many who haven't yet found their 'fit' in the tribe.
  • the sense of family and community .....where regular festival-goers who may not see each other from one festival to the next engage in 'reunion' type behaviours, taking the opportunity to catch up socially with each other, share news and progresses, connect new members of the community to long-time residents, teach and learn with each other...and where - for one whole weekend-  all the family loves each other, expresses a bonhomie to all, tolerates and accepts all the individual idiosyncrasies, avoids harsh thoughts or words, ignores the ego trips, and focuses on simply celebrating the joy of life and music.  
then....at the end of the weekend, it's all over til the next one comes around.  Performers shaking their heads at - and inspired by - the extraordinary amount of talent that surrounds them, vowing to work hard and  aim for a higher benchmark at the next festival {unless of course they've convinced themselves that theirs was already the highest and there's no room for improvement!:)};  non-performers determined to practices those tips or new songs they learned in the jam sessions, maybe apply for a spot at next year's event; non-players inspired to get started on a new instrument.

Despite the disparities, the community music festival environment removes barriers, crosses boundaries, brings individuals together from all age groups, cultural backgrounds, socio-economic circumstances, etc, fosters tolerance and acceptance of all styles of music and encourages all of its members.  Unlike the commercially focused event, driven by and for the almighty dollar, this is a tribe that doesn't depend on the crutches of alcohol or drugs to fulfill it's objectives.

What a shame we can't bring all of this into the general community.