I love going to music festivals. About 18 years ago, attending a music festival was on my bucket list. So to check the item off, I went to the Newport Folk Festival and got hooked. Unlike going to a 2-3 hour concert, a music festival is a multi-day immersion into the music and the artists. Live music all around you being performed all day long.
It started out as a dancing venue quest 16 years ago and now I’ve been attending the Rhythm and Roots Music Festival in Charlestown, RI ever since. It’s three days and three stages full of Americana, Cajun, Zydeco, Country Swing, and Blues music. It’s also three days of camping, eating great food, and dancing with friends that has become my Labor Day tradition.
After leaving the Breachway, I had a couple to-do’s (dump the tanks, take a good shower, and get resupplied) and then got ready for a very early morning. To get a good camping (i.e., parking) spot, I like to get at Niniget Park just as the gates open on Friday. The gates open at 6:00 am for the campers, which means getting in line before that at the gate and then waiting in line again to get into the camping area at 9:00 am. I hate waiting in any line, but you gotta do what you gotta do to get a good spot.
I made a vlog of the line up process, camping areas, and festival performance stages that you can see here.
This year, the producer made some changes to the festival and I think they all worked out for the good. For me, it was one of the best years ever. Lots of things contributed to that sentiment.
- The weather – Every day was sunny, warm, with a light breeze. Each day was a carbon copy of the previous day. No rain, no heat, no humidity, no clouds. Just three days of OMG beautiful weather. Here’s a gallery of pictures from around the festival.
- My wife joined me – Yeah! My wife is not a camper and camping at a music festival can be rough. Several years ago, a bad experience at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival put her over the edge. It’s been several years since she’s joined me at one, but a good weather forecast, a nice comfortable RV, camping in quiet spot, and no work made it easier for her to say yes this year. I’m so glad she did. We had a good time together. (And, I had walking proof for my friends that I was still married!)
- The lineup – The music was terrific. There were over 30 bands and artists. There were perennial favorites (Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Corey Ledet, Marcia Ball, Sarah Potenza). I love that Louisiana music. And some great new-to-me acts (Lake Street Drive, Kitty Daisy, and Lewis, The Mavericks).
- The dancing – This year the Dance Tent was enlarged. Last year the Dance Tent was too hot and overcrowded. This year, it had a larger floor and the tent had higher walls to let more air in. It was comfortable to dance in and there was plenty of room. I’m so glad the producer listened to the feedback and made these changes.
- The performances – With three stages there’s just no way to see all the acts perform. And, I don’t try to see everything. As a dancer, I cycle back and forth between performance stages and dance stages. A couple of great performances I saw included Yvette Landry singing Patsy Cline songs and Sarah Potenza bringing the fans to their feet with her encore performance of AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (if you want to rock and roll)”. Here’s a gallery of some of the artists. And check out my YouTube channel (J. Dawg YouTube Channel) for a few videos I took of the performers.
- Dancing and camping with my friends – My wife got me into dancing. I went kicking and screaming to those initial lessons, but I found that it came very easy for me and I really liked it. Now, you can’t keep me off the dance floor. Waltz, Rumba, Two-Step, Swing, and Zydeco – I like them all. I like dancing with my wife (which I got to do this year) but I also like dancing with other partners. After 16 years, I’ve gotten to know several people, who like me, return each year. Some have become good friends and its one of the main reasons I keep coming back to this festival – to see and dance with my friends. This year I got to see most of them. Dance partners Cyd, Francine, Jane, Jen, Jeni, Pat, Tricia, and Vicki. Camping/festival friends – Jim, Peter, Janine, Whitey, Pat, Penny, Joe, Shelley, and Greg. All of them are super nice people.
It was a great weekend. The weather, the music, the performances, the people, the dancing could not have been better. My friend Jane was spot on when she told me that she was the happiest and so much in the moment when she’s here on the dance floor. I couldn’t agree more. The music and the performers put you in the moment. Having suffered from some serious illnesses in recent years makes me appreciate these moments. And, there’s few moments that are better than spending time with my family and some good friends, or dancing to some great music with a beautiful woman in your arms. For this guy, it’s as good as it gets.