As I stand in the shower, a deliciously continuous stream of hot water cascading over my head, I watch the swirl of dirty brown water wash off the last vestiges of Live Oak and snake down the drain. I’m tired, sun-kissed, and achy from all that accompanies camping: pulling out and loading up camping gear, setting up tents and cots and camp tables and chairs, sleeping on an air mattress for four nights, breaking it all down in reverse, and putting it all away again. It’s a good tired, and as the water falls, I think back on my whirlwind weekend, reliving the highlights.
Our new tent (thanks, father-in-law-to-be Gary Robertshaw!) gives Anna and me enough room to set up a queen-size bed and have a sitting area, plus we can change clothes standing up! Woohoo!
When we arrive on Thursday, our campmates have already set up the outdoor living room, replete with two couches, a coffee table, and an oil lamp chandelier; an outdoor kitchen with running water and a sink; and an awesome bar. The camp looks homey and festive!
Later that night, we head backstage to see the decorations before the performers arrive on Friday. This year’s theme is Alice in Wonderland, and holy moly! Backstage is incredible! It’s always good, but I think they outdid themselves this year.
On Friday, I see my favorite show of the festival—John Doe—who’s slowed down and countrified many of my favorite songs from the punk band X. He’s also the coolest-looking performer with a sweet, light brown, country-style leisure suit.
On Saturday, as I’m strolling to the showers, I see Charles and Ray Duncan of Ranchers for Peace and they give me one of their new CDs. Thanks, Ranchers! After getting cleaned up, I take my breakfast to the Hot Licks Stage and catch their deeply satisfying and emotionally resonant morning set at 9 a.m.
After a relaxing morning, our camp—populated by members of the Beleza Sol Mardi Gras krewe—busts out a bunch of costumes and gets us all dressed for a Second Line march to the sounds of Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic. My friend Chad is shirtless in skintight silver sparkly pants and an Egyptian headdress. “These pants don’t breathe!” he whines, loving every minute of it. I find out how hot a feather boa and fuchsia-colored felt hat are when you’re dancing in the sun. We march through camp, throwing beads and shaking our groove thangs, then head into the main stage area, straight down the middle row to the front of the stage, and split in two lines to dance at the far ends of the stage. It’s awesome and the crowd loves it!
Afterward, we take our sweaty butts back to camp and get ready for a beer tasting we’re hosting, during which I taste Rogue Ales’ Voodoo Bacon Maple Ale, the worst beer I’ve ever had in my life! Blech!
Then Duane English of Café Musique shows up and serenades us on the accordion. Soon after, here comes Stuart Mason Helmintoller of Molly’s Revenge on the mandolin. Then Ron Saul of The Dentures borrows a homemade washtub string bass and joins in, and then in rolls Mad Dog of Abner Malady and the Village Idiots on the spoons, and we’ve got a real party going on! These kinds of impromptu jams happen all over Live Oak Camp, but perhaps not always with this caliber of players.
KCBX maven Janelle Younger invites us backstage for dinner, so we enjoy some delicious chili verde and chat up emcee Joe Craven … the mad man! What a day!
I’m already fried by Sunday—both by the sun and the constant and ongoing shenanigans—so I only occasionally wander to the main stage but more often listen from camp to Acorn Radio, the micro station that broadcasts the performers. I don’t feel a bit guilty for sitting on the couches under the oaks and chatting with friends instead of venturing out into the blazing heat. That’s the beauty of Live Oak—it’s fun no matter where you are or what you’re doing!
So many great memories—too many for a 20 minute shower. Ahh! Clean again … until next year. Au revoir, Live Oak! ∆
Glen Starkey takes a beating and keeps on bleating. Keep up with him via twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at facebook.com/glenstarkey or myspace.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at email@example.com.