This weekend we, all the we that can make it, are trekking out into a field and claiming a piece of temporary property with a blanket, some chairs and a cooler (cans only, my friends). We will get there early enough to strategically place ourselves in a spot that has both quick bathroom access and clear viewing to our favorite band, Woodstomp.
I never imagined that I would be a groupie. I had nothing against those people that fell in love with a band, their music, their story and then decided to spend the next however many years of their life figuring out how to get to next show. People slapping a bumper sticker in honor of the kings of their music, the makers of their soundtrack, I was cool with them. I thought everyone should just do what they needed to do.
Not me, though.
That is until I got to know Woodstomp. Josh compares me to the crazed fan in The Flight of the Conchords. I have a bumper sticker on the back of my car, Scout. First time I ever tattooed a car.
Woodstomp will take the main stage at 7:30pm in a group dance appropriately tagged LOVE OUT LOUD.
Yeah, my name is Shea and I'm a groupie. Does this make me a woodhead or a stomphead? Oh good gosh. Damn it.
It all started when I met Charlie and tortured him before realizing he was a colleague. Long story short: Stick shift and a hill. Stopped. Facing fear. Laughter. Overcoming fear. Hired. Colleague.
He's quite genius actually. I felt a momentary lapse of genius just for innately knowing that.
And I was going to wait until the Woodstomp album came out before writing about the band, but why wait? I'll have more to write in the future. The Love Festival is just as good a time as any to tell you about these guys.
Here is where I convey my humility: Nothing I write is going to do for you what the experience of seeing and hearing Charlie and Connor perform live what is called Mississippi Hill Country Blues as they pay tribute to some of the GREATS, such as Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside. If you don't know those names, it's okay. You've heard their music. The original Mississippi blues found in this area has blended itself into some of the greatest songs you've heard through the ages. The smartest musicians have studied them.
A hunger of the soul perhaps.
A celebration of survival from a people who knew about survival at it's core.
Back in the day I would have said that no white person had a right to play the blues. They couldn't do it. They knew not of the blues.
Johnny Lang was the first one to prove me wrong.
Kelly Joe Phelps looked like he was channelling the blues.
Then came Joe Bonamassa.
The Black Keys snuck in there.
After that was Woodstomp. Now, for me, the blues thumps. It rocks, a forced stirring of the soul. It makes my head nod, my foot tap. Then it begins to twist me a bit. Before long Billy Sue's thinking, I'm sure glad nobody else is here to see this.
Now I think anyone can play the blues. Any human. Anywhere. We are not separated by it. We are connected. My theory is to do it like Kimbrough and RL you have to pay the dues. Any human can. Woodstomp did and they've come to play us the music from that experience.
A hot summer.
Working in the sun.
Wondering where your next dollar is coming from.
Praying to Mama and God.
Having a good man/woman you desire who makes it all right or crooning over the bad one who made it all wrong.
Going to the juke joint.
Dancing barefoot on a concrete floor to a sound with complete presence in a space of shared love and passion and hard work and celebrating good times 'cause you saw the bad. No shame 'cause you know you did the best you could.
Learning something and then telling people about it.
Finding a place, a space on the Earth's forest floor which down in Mississippi we call the woods, and sharing a survival dance to music that connects us within the deepest parts of ourselves. All of us. Together. Surviving. LOVING OUT LOUD.
The stars will be out.
Charlie and Connor will be playing.
Priscilla will be smack center dancing with her arms up in the air.
Josh will be alternating positions between gazing at her with the sappiest love look on his face as he does his own little groove and coming back to our base blanket where most of the rest of us will spend the majority of the time grooving in our own little circle, protecting the cooler.
Kim will force me to go into the corn maze. We'll get lost but hopefully she can call Cedar Hill Farms' management from her cell phone so they can come get us.
We'll get to meet Cannon's girlfriend. There is no doubt that boy will be dancing!
Slater and Shelby should be there loving love and loving Woodstomp.
Hopefully I'll get to meet some of Slater's Ole Miss friends for the first time.
You should be there too. You'd know it and love it. I promise.