GREY FOX: Where Too Much Is Never Enough

12 July 2010

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We interrupt our previously scheduled Performer Showcase to bring you this important bulletin:

Fear not, Cousin Curly’s got lots more of the Acoustic Blue profile coming up, as well as edifying workshop videos and further entries from my bluegrass-stained wanderings. For the moment, however, I’m focused on Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

Grey Fox is located in Catskills, about an hour south of Albany, New York. I call it “the mother of all northern bluegrass fests,” but I use the term more in the sense of Mother Nature than in reference to the human maternal instinct. Grey Fox is full of great people, great music and great pickin’, but I sometimes feel that any mother who treated her children the way this festival does would be reported to Social Services.

This is not a knock on the festival organizers. Fest Director Mary Doub and her stalwart crew put their hearts and souls into making everything work. And to an astonishing degree everything does work. But consider this: some 15,000 people attend the festival each year, and I believe the majority of these folks are camping on site. This means you’ve got a small town that appears in the middle of a hay field, makes whoopee and vanishes, all in the span of four days. Now add to this a music program that runs for fourteen hours a day on multiple stages. For many attendees, however, the formal musical program takes a backseat to the campsite jamming, which goes on ‘round the clock in certain quarters.

Are we tired yet?

Finally, don’t forget the weather, which tends be characterized by long, steamy days relieved (if that’s the word I’m looking for) by torrential downpours. Yep, it’s a mother all right.

The program of events at Grey Fox starts this Thursday, but the faithful convene at the gates early Wednesday morning. While the line-up of acts at the festival is stellar, many of us find that first “unofficial” day to be the most fun. Everyone is still fresh and— as the video clip above shows— there’s plenty of fine pickin’ to be heard by just wandering among the campers.

So, are you on board? If so, you’d better grab a ticket, since the festival has been known to sell out. Not sure if you’re ready to take the plunge? Hey, to quote the patron saint of banjo players, Helen Keller, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing at all.” We’ll see you there.

Yer Pal— Curly

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