Gem and Jam 2018 Being There

in music •  10 months ago

We get in simply with the “We’re Volunteers” line and wristbands find their way onto ours. People are kind to us through the stress of will call. I walk through security unscathed. Beautiful wild dreads and costumes and this floaty feeling that lifts your heart even when you’re sober. Maybe it’s the sounds of it. Or the smells. Or more subtle, the vibration of hearts.

We gather in front of stage to the twinkle of a mandolin. That sound that clues you to Railroad Earth and we skip along to it as the crowd grows and their voice rings in. The warm light of the sun through the trees shines on their faces.

And the timing is right. A familiar face in the crowd notices mine. And we float through the thin crowd into an embrace. He introduces us to his friends and to Matty a lost friend still with them in a piece of glass around each of their necks. Rainbows. And the mixed smells of multiple homegrown citrusy bowls.

The variation of souls around us is enlivening.

Paul points to a drone taking us all in. and we put on our earplugs. Be wise.

I look over to a dingly silver scarf fashioned as a skirt, cheeks hanging out the short bottom.

And the bass see saws.

Dreads pull in in front of us and then drift into space drawing our eyes to the silvered purple silk dancer to the left of stage.

It’s amazing these men play together with all the intricacies they each are able to pull out and lay down in the web of sound together with us dancing on top of that like flies to a spider.

A song off a new LP.

And the sun is down. I meet Lana. I think of what being on the stage watching the sunset over the heads of all these ridiculous bright eclectic people must feel like.

There is something to that. And I watch the bass play. Mello. Is that how I’d do it? Mello focus? Maybe sometimes. Maybe sometimes not. You flow with it.

I speak with Rob and watch a beautiful intricate crocheted hoodie and mask move on by through the crowd. That shit takes skill.

The bass line sinks into our feet both grounding us and moving us… the banjo picks up, “OhhhOhhhh Oh OhOh…” We sing together. We howl. And enjoy the skunky musty sweet smell of weed and incense and human mixed together in the air.

The mando kicks in with some flicks of fire. “Turning off my own head,” we sing. We get it with a howl.

In the few short years I’ve been a part of this scene I’ve watched the people around me age and the people on stage are not immune. There are the perma-young but even they join the group at some point. Taking time like a tonic together.

It’s inescapable. A necessity to life and so we drink it and the wrinkles come and the hair grays and thins but as we watch our bodies change, it strengthens the spirit of it all. Together the wisdom of experience flows in and the screech and scream and sing song voice of the fiddle. We roll along. Rolling stones don’t they say? Age brings a different kind of beauty. One of the heart of compassion and confidence, a sureness about it all. That “it all” will be all right, will keep on without you. People will keep on dancing. Won’t they.

Someone comes up behind me. “I don’t know what you’re doing but I love it.” And then with a smile she disappears like we all seem to do.

The stage turns blue and slows down mellow. DMT on the air and a man in white overalls crosses our path. The music flows like hands over my neck and back. Soothing like familiarity, like being home, “It’s getting wild in the city,” Maybe the Palo Santo, that creamy smooth comforting smoke touching our noses is what’s … “I’m adding my voice to the voice of the people who…”

A trade goes on behind me. Prints of Gem and Jam, Julia trades with the guy with the jar of crystals poster and it reminds me of Levi and that short chance encounter so many years ago when our spirits came together and then spun apart like colliding stars above us dancing in space.

My face and hair glow purple in a bath of light from stage. The sky continues to grow darker behind and above us. Familiar dreads, already familiar, pass my again. It’s that cork of wood seeming to grow like a knot in a tree from one of them.

Ahead of us by 10 feet I watch a character groove with a short teal velvet jacket. Huge shoulder pads and a captains hat but what I find is a different character swims out of the crowd laying his head on my shoulder. “Amazing job channeling this shit,” he tells me. “You’re awesome.”

“Thank you,” I smile back at him. “But you’re just as awesome.”

A smile, a squeeze on the shoulder and he’s off too.

There’s so much space to dance and breathe here. And take in the orange haze.

The electric bass blends its riffs with the fruity drifts of some vaporizer. He plays with a pick. I let the lights and music and smoke of so many mix together and bath me. Clean the stress of life off my soul. A good rich soul bath. Scrubbing out the grime of society. That tarnish it leaves on you. “Live this way,” it says and it’s hard not to.

“I’m digging at the edges… Same old story, now the stories mine.”

Dobro time. Now he slides…

Do I smell Damiana?

Psychedelic lights dance on the musicians with their bluegrass fast and sing songy with that walking bass line, spinning mandalas, and Tim, the fiddle player’s hair, wild with the chaos of it. Not many blue grass bands have drums but they get with the bass and get you dancing just as they should. This is spin me in circles music. The lights flash and chaos with the sound drops down into a new beat.


-This guy has seen me write at Sonic Bloom and came to say Hi Again!-

What’s the point though?

Why do we all congregate here in costumes, altering our consciousness together? A panda bear holds a pink staff to my left. A guy with a “festival staff” shirt to my right lifts his head to the sky and lets out a giant puff of creamy smoke. You know the smell.


We brake from Railroad to check out booths and art.
@johnspeaker, we watch him paint for a minute, take in the booths that accept Bitcoin

I admire the Dead cuffs, thick sterling with stones and stealies.

A giant praying mantis parts the crowd…

We move toward stage through the plumes of smoke. Smells good. And we’re here.
Emancipator

Smooth…

Room to swim though the crowd...

I look back to a brightly lit sign, “We Need New Friends,” it sways to the music.

Another, “Fuck Bed Time,” doesn’t jive with me. Cuz I love rest. Especially well needed rest.

We move through the flow of bodies vibrating with the bass. It’s a sloppy bass though, something about it feels off like a broken speaker. I’m familiar with the songs but not the vibration of it.

(in case you can’t read it, it says: “These movements, the music, humanity coming out to lose it. Finding healing through times of celebration. Communion though life and it’s emancipation. Light and love, music and movement. Vibrating through connection and improvisation.”)

Cam writes in the book. Adds his wisdom from the collective soup onto our shared pages here.

We walk through more artist set ups watching them paint; all new.

Still more walking and looking and the temperature drops.

I think of wanting… take an inventory.
-Grateful Dead Cuff
-Earrings
-Stickers
-Kaleidoscope

The cold means we fill our hands with food, a chai, mini donuts, a Nan wrap, a rice bowl, a beer.

Papadosio

We join the crowd in front of Papadosio now on the dark stage Railroad once played on.

A mix of computer and instrument seems to simplify the playing tell me if I’m wrong. Something Yamny or Eminency about them, but their sound is more floaty smooth like caramel with bits of sweetness added in. An underlying grounded bass with jellyfish.

Something about the bass player reminds me of Zach, my friend who plays for @mama-magnolia now, but his riffs are so simple. As I say it he pulls out some new playfulness. It is a phat lip kind of bass with a synthy flit and flutter on top, the candy.

A journeying kind of groove. The kind I like that takes you somewhere. I like the music that brings you on a trip.
They stop to thank us and then like a dreamy memory they come back in.

Maybe a bit too dreamy. Maybe a little too much candy on top. The lights come on with some skippy robotic sounds. The lights blink on and off. And then the bass drops in simple and heavy. The crowd cheers. Yeah it feels pretty good. But maybe it’s a little all over the place, disjointed.

I’m trying to tell if I like it.

The shoes on the ground in front of me glow.

The lights come on for some slow down, the singing…

Down into that … Oh god, it’s just not for me. It’s too disjointed, trying to be too much.

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I do like the way you tell the story when you go to watch the bands! It has a more personal, immediate feeling to it than just simple narration would give it.

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I've been writing while at shows for almost 5 years now. It's really one of my favorite ways to experience things, writing about the exact moment I'm in. Problem is I just joined a band and I can't write about the experience and play the bass at the exact same time! Ah! haha ( ;

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Are you going to be playing the bass in the new band?
You can always write about your experiences with the band after the fact...

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I will be yeah, my first experience in a band! Kinda nerve racking!
I certainly will be doing the after the fact part. When we get some songs down I'll post them for everyone to hear (;