Monday, September 19, 2016

A Festival of Music and Joy

It has been more than two weeks since the Appaloosa Festival filled the Shenandoah Valley with music on Labor Day weekend. Though I haven't had a chance to write about it here, I have commented and posted lots of my own photographs on social media platforms. The joy and exuberance of the whole thing still resonates within me.

The Appaloosa Festival was a celebration of life.

It was a blast! Music all day on five different stages, lots of food, good beer, perfect weather, and plenty of friends we don't see often enough.

How could it not be fun?

But that doesn't get to the heart of it. The music is hard to describe. This was supposed to be a "Roots/Americana/Bluegrass/Folk" festival, and it certainly was all of those things. At the same time, the quality and variety of performers were striking, and a lot of what we heard was really a fusion of diverse genres, or a playful dance through and beyond all the genres.

But how can I put it more simply? Perhaps it's enough to say that the host of this festival is the "World-Music/Celtic/Americana/Bring-the-House-Down" band Scythian. For those who have seen and heard Scythian in concert, no further explanation is needed. Obviously not every band had the same musical style or explosive energy as Scythian, but what prevailed everywhere was the group's enthusiasm for music, infectious joy, and gigantic hospitality.

It was also loud.

The legendary Scythian

There were fiddles and banjos, upright basses, kilts, Irish and folk dancing, accordions, harps, and many other things. There were also electric guitars and basses, keyboards and drums, and amps that made sure everything could project a large sound.

It's not surprising that there was lots of fusion between traditional music and the whole range of contemporary electronic and rhythmic ensemble styles.

To put it more simply, the Appaloosa Festival rocked!

The Black Lilies

But there was also lots of space in the ample fields and camping areas of Skyline Ranch Resort. Plenty of room to get close up to the stages and feel the music, and also to step further back to the food tents, local area vendors, activities for kids, or perfectly audible and relaxed conversations with friends old or newly met.

This was no overcrowded, ponderous, self-important celebrity project. It was a festival in the deep human sense of the term.

We came away having seen a great deal of virtuoso musical performances by people who used their talent to share something beautiful and joyful with us. We came away with a sense of gratitude.

And we'll be back next year for sure!

Irish music and dance with the Gothard Sisters

Carbon Leaf and Marie Miller


Fiddler front man Alex and Larissa on bass

People enjoy the afternoon, get food and beer, have conversation

Surrounded by vistas