MUTHUH's RIDES - Banjos, Fiddles, Hogs and Dogs
You can tell from the blurry picture that my wife took shot #02 of me in my lawn chair, in the drizzing rain, and in pain from all the food being served. I had to wear my Harley T-Shirt, of course - although I think I saw only one other the entire weekend. The overwhelming majority were in tie-dye, had flowers in their hair, and played with various goofy toys on the spacious lawns. Reminded me of a rock concert from the late 60's, except for the pungeant smell of various herbs burning in the air. The PBS-watching mother-earth types were in the vast majority, and the late day rains couldn't dampen the festival spirit.
April 30 - May 1, 2004
OK, so I am not a rabid Bluegrass fan, but I am always up for a party, and a little bit of it is tolerable as long as there is some good food, cold beer and pretty women to admire. Every year in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, tens of thousands of Bluegrass fans converge for the Annual MerleFest, a tribute festival for Doc Watson's son, Merle Watson, killed 18 yrs ago in a tractor accident. Both Doc and Merle Watson are/were world renowned pickers in the uniquely Appalacian style of music called Bluegrass. Doc Watson started this festival 18 yrs ago to honor his memory and now it is THE place for pickers and grinners to come show off their talents.
Right about the same time, the Hogs For Dogs crew were setting off from Raleigh on their 48-state adventure, calling this first leg their "Get Outta Town Ride". I met them at the end of this first days ride in Burlington, halfway between Raleigh and Wilkesboro, for their sendoff party.
They had six or seven stages set up in various locations, placed so the quite clear and loud music from one wouldn't interfere with the other - choices abounded, and you could never see everything. My wife had her favorites circled on the schedule and we tramped from one to the other, and back again, to catch various acts from as far away as Australia.
Pics #09 and 10 were of "Waif", the Aussie group - who did really well. I'll never be able to tell you the names of these folks, but Sam Bass, seen in #11-13 musta been a popular one, as the crowd swelled way past seating capacity to see him jammin on stage with several other individual performers. He has his own group, too, and played later that night at the main stage, but individual jammin was one of the things that Merlefest is known for, and there guys were good.
Now, don't let these few pics fool ya - it didn't rain the whole time, but I didn't bring the camera to the first day, when it was sunny and bright (and got cold as hell after the sun went down), but there were a few sprinkles mid afternoon that kept the ponchos and tarps handy throughout the evening. Most of these pics are of the main stage, where the top performers played.
If you have something to wear other than black T-shirts and enjoy good Bluegrass, you ought to head to the foothills of NC some year for MerleFest...it is one of the best organized festivals I'd been too. You have to be creative to sneak in anything alcoholic or herbal, but they do allow a cooler and armfulls of chairs and stuffsacks for your blankets and 'stuff'. Some seats are reservable, but you know me - I prefer sitting on the grass and stretch out enjoying the music.
Come evening, they light up the stage comparable with any Rock Group and shine spots in the trees behind the stage. That and the large video screens made it a great way to spend two days/nights with some friends.
Saturday morning, I packed up my stuff and headed for Burlington, NC and the Kickoff party for Blaine and Janet - the two Hogs For Dogs people who were riding the country raising funds for Guide and Assistance Dog organizations. I left in the rain and got there in the rain... fortunately it stopped often enough to get the party going at The Garage Motorsports Bar in Burlington, and they had a crankin' band and about 65 riders who joined 'em for the 75 mile ride.
The Garage is getting to be a regular stop for me, right off I-40/85 at the Elon Exit (Huffman Mill Road). If you go south on Huffman Mill Road about 200yards, and turn left between the IHOP and the Kangaroo Gas Station, you take Kirkpatrick Road 1/10 mile and will see it on the right.
Mike, the guy who owns the place, pushed aside the pool tables and invited the evening band to come in early for the party.
As soon as it was over - about 8 of us backtracked to Hwy 49 and a little bar that is better known as Copperheads, but now called One More Saloon for a brew, and then to The LIttle Bar in Apex for a few more. Was a long couple days, and a soggy one, but made some new riding buds... now - on to Myrtle Beach!
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