About 6 months ago John Dickson approached me to write an article for a re-release of the MusicFest magazine for the spring. He was going to be targeting alot of the college crowd and probably a lot of people that have never heard of the bands that we know and love in this genre of music, so he tasked me with writing about friends, family and the comradery that is so prevalent among all the fans and artists. Here is what was printed and passed around…
I remember coming home from my first Cross Canadian Ragweed concert and feeling like if I didn’t tell someone about how good that band was, I might be breaking some sort of law. As fans of music, we can all relate to that feeling of having just found “the best band ever!!!!” You find yourself telling all your friends about this band, you go out and buy all of their records, but that isn’t enough so you search the internet for any bootlegs, no matter how bad they are. And just when you think you might be borderline obsessed, something cool happens; you start to find people that have heard of them too! Other people that don’t get it start staring at you talking to your new friends like you might be long lost brothers or sisters. And the fact is, that’s closer to the truth than we like to admit.
Being a native Texan, I’ll bring this a little closer to home. There a music movement that is spreading rapidly across the United States that is somewhat hard to label but is very distinct. Within this movement there are many differences between the bands but the overall similarity is that they are most definitely not mainstream pop music. This leads me to a very important question: What is it about this music that sets it apart from others? I’m sure that if you took the time to really think about that question a few ideas might roll off your tongue like “truth,” “songwriting,” “deep music” or “great musicians.” All those answers could be spot on, but after being a part of this music scene for over 12 years I would say that the one missing in there is “friendship” or “family.”
Family and friendship runs so strong through this scene that it’s only natural that huge events like Cross Canadian Ragweed’s Family Jam are born, but it doesn’t stop there. There’s the annual Braun Brothers Reunion put on by the brothers from Reckless Kelly and Micky & The Motorcars. The Sake of The Song Festival with the Randy Rogers Band which features a weekend long float trip and camping. The Big Music Cruise sets sail this July with some of your favorite bands: Cross Canadian Ragweed, Stoney LaRue, Wade Bowen, and Jason Boland and the Stragglers.
There’s not a more powerful time and place where you truly feel a part of a family than during the week of MusicFest in Steamboat, Colorado. The excitement starts to build months in advance of MusicFest in Steamboat. You’ll hear musicians and fans alike start to reminisce about the great times they’ve had in the past and what they’re looking forward to about this year’s festival. The music, skiing and friendship are what keep us coming back year after year and even a Steamboat Rookie can tell there’s something special about MusicFest from the minute they arrive.
You can go to just about any concert at MusicFest and see different artists on stage (and in the crowd) at the same time or hear stories about how the band first started playing music together. Whether you are going with a bunch of college friends, lifetime friends or even by yourself, the spirit of friendship and family in the air at this festival can’t be ignored. My friend, Kathy V. has one of the coolest stories I’ve heard when it comes to finding good friends and family at MusicFest. She tells it best:
“I didn’t know what to expect when I first went to Musicfest. Being from Boston, I only knew one person, but when I left 5 days later I had a bunch of CD’s, a new appreciation for the music, and a group of friends who would become my new family. Just 3 years later, this family welcomed me to my new home…Texas.”
Kathy has the right idea. Find what you love and then find other people who love it too. Over the past few years I’ve noticed that the concerts and festivals that generate the most excitement and the most fun. They let me hang out with my friends, they let me see the musicians hanging out with each other and they bring out a vibe that goes a little further than the music alone can do. And when it all comes together, there’s nothing else in the world that can replace the friendship, music and family.