An interesting ‘day before’. Usually, Ed Farrell and I would take a ﬁnal tour around the fairgrounds. We’d start out in the oﬃce with a chat to the person responsible for all things fairgrounds. She was reliably accommodating and I quite liked dealing with her and the grounds crew. For the most part. Then, Ed and I would have a ride around, looking for any problems or things that we’d like to get some attention. Leaky water lines, electrical outlets not working, safety hazards, and such. Usually nothing too concerning. It’s a good location. The porta pots would come and the Welcome Tent would go up. The trailer of supplies would get dropped oﬀ by Bill Spence and some helpers.
2019 was a wet one before Memorial Day weekend. This meant we’d have to do something unheard of. We put our tents down on the terraced lawn out in front of the stage. It made for a pretty sweet camping experience. The ground was newly grown green grass. I was very worried that we’d wreck the lawn. So, word spread to be careful of the lawns. After everyone left, you couldn’t tell that people were densely camped on the land. And, what I hope is a lasting tradition, people camped further up the lane under covered roofs. That made for a bit of a village of porches, where folks set up their camping kitchens and living rooms. Something to be said for covered camping areas. Although, the weather made us use our location diﬀerently, it was better.
Last year, people came together and learned that Zoom thing. And, we put on our ﬁrst virtual festival. There were workshops and jams and performances on the Zoom and we were happy enough to see each other and share the tunes as we do. We looked forward to 2021 with optimism. So, when the pandemic was still unpredictable, we made the hard decision to play it extra safe. And, truthfully, I did not want to deal with a new volunteer crew responsible for preventing transmission of a deadly virus. Can you even imagine how diﬃcult and impossible it would be to do that.
And, although we’d all agree that a year on Zoom has worn us down some, yearly traditions are yearly traditions and Black Creek is a yearly tradition. And, we did it! Here we are with enough new skills and enough planning and enough persistence and cleverness and friendliness to keep our yearly traditions. I kept thinking about how I describe it as a jamming campout festival. Over this pandemic year, I noticed that the best Zoom jams had a more than 2 musicians. Three or four or ﬁve on the Zoom +me and my closed back headphones and my fancy-assed microphone feel as real as in person if the groove is going. So, that’s the call that I put out, once we had a concept of a safe pod. If you’d wandered through the Altamont Fairgrounds in a typical year, you would have heard many of these makers in various combinations.
Tonight, let’s all play some tunes together. Some people have accused me of being insane to kick oﬀ the weekend with a C jam. But, what a C jam it’s going to be! Topped oﬀ with a jam in D, my favorite key. We’ll keep the room open for west coasters or insomniacs. Unless there’s a pod out there, I’m guessing this will be more of a one to one jams, or solo open mic-ish.
Um, I got all the way to the end of the story here and I did not mention the Jamulus Project. Harry Sweet and Aaron Bittel have been working on fostering early adopters of synchronous, live-time jamming. It’s a thing. You have to climb a learning curve, and you need some high speed internet, and some gear. But, when you get it working, it is as good as being together. (Check out 4 of us in 4 diﬀerent locations paying Booth Shot Lincoln, Posted on our webpage.) They’re going to kick oﬀ the 2021 Black Creek Fiddlers’ Reunion, our 22nd year, from 5pm 7pm. Drop in any time and see what’s going on.
We’ll be camping out on the internet. When we need a break from the workshops, there are rooms where we can talk. Matter of fact there are rooms that you could probably share your screen and have an old time YouTube reaction session if that ﬂoats your boat. (Ask any of our STAFF if you need help to share your screen.) Our old pal Dullborn Beeves has done some very sweet video from Black Creek over the years. See, we don’t have to schedule everything. You can use this space in ways we haven’t even thought of. Have at it. If you’re ready to give Jamulus a try, talk to Harry or Aaron in the GROVE. Or, for that matter, if you’re already set and are looking for live tunes, you can get the details on the Black Creek server talk to Harry or Aaron. Tell your friends. See you in the campground! Oh, and hey, Lane Braden will be hosting the pot luck again this year. ‘Bring food or starve’, as our founders Brian and Lisa Sullivan used to say.