Today, in 1854, Henry David Thoreau‘s ode to rural life and spiritual discovery “Walden; or, Life in the Woods” was published. Thoreau said “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.”
Whenever summer rolls around I feel like pulling a Thoreau and getting out of the city. I’m from a small town in the northwestern corner of Washington State and I never miss it more than when the sun is out. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city but nothing compares to swimming in rivers, going on hikes and laying around in the sun with no sounds but the birds chirping and the bees buzzing. However, unlike Thoreau, I prefer to enjoy the woods with some friends and we’re ticketing some great events that will put you in touch with nature while enjoying good company and fantastic music.
Eleven years ago, a few miles up the road from where I grew up, a great music festival was started by a group of Bellingham musicians, desperately in need of a summer festival. With a focus on acoustic music, these musicians banded together and played double duty as performers and festival staff. Band members took tickets, hung lights and set up the stage for 150 of their closest friends. This was the birth of the Subdued Stringband Jamboree. Now the festival boasts two days of the finest local bands with a few out of towners thrown in for good measure.
Most bands fall under the stringband umbrella with acrobatic country-blues from the Gallus Brothers, punk-bluegrass from the Water Tower Bucket Boys and Eugene’s itinerant ragtime-klezmer band the Sour Mash Hug Band. But there will also be some reggae/funk from the Yogoman Burning Band and even circus arts from the Bellingham Circus Guild. All of this is taking place in beautiful Whatcom County right by the Nooksack River; childhood stomping grounds of your beloved BPT blogger!
* Warning! This video clip contains explicit language.
This isn’t the only folk music festival that we’re ticketing this weekend, however. Starting on Friday, August 12 in Shawano, Wisconsin the Shawano Folk Music Festival presents its 33rd year. Taking place in beautiful Mielke Park the festival boasts four stages of folk music and dance from around the world, a gospel sing-a-long on Sunday morning and music and dance workshops going on all weekend long. Tickets are available here.
Then, on Saturday, August 13 18 Reasons presents a Full Moon Barn Dance at the Circle JR Ranch in Sonoma, California. This old-timey hoedown will feature live bluegrass music and square dancing. Plus, there will be games, lasso lessons, and great food and drinks. They’re making a concerted effort to be green so they are not providing any plates, utensils or glasses so bring a jar to drink your wine and beer from. Tickets are almost gone for this one, so be sure to pick yours up here. Camping on the ranch is available for Saturday night, so pitch a tent and dance all night long under the full moon.
Summer is a great reason to get out of the city and these events are sure to provide the ideal atmosphere for a weekend of rural bliss. Thoreau said, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away” and if your soundtrack includes banjos, mandolins and acoustic guitars, these rural, hoedowns are just the thing for you.