However, my general mindset shifted when, of all things, my car window was shattered and my GPS was stolen. As I sat there, waiting for Schenectady's finest to arrive and write up a report, it occured to me: this sucks, but it is not life-ending. There is glass everywhere. It's inconvenient to have a bag over my window. It's annoying to go without my GPS for two weeks, and to incur the unexpected expense of replacing it. But it's not a crisis. Things break. It's been two weeks, and I cut my hand on a stray piece of glass yet again. Sometimes the broken pieces stick around for a while. But such is life. Things break. We vacuum it up, call the glass repair company, order the replacement, make do in the meantime with what we have, bandage up the cuts when the sharp edges show up again later. We move on.
I'm not really sure what that looks like, especially as summer festival season wraps up and I no longer have an endless series of concerts to attend for distraction. We're about to stretch out to one every month or two instead of something nearly every weekend. That means I also have to figure out what to do with myself now that my friends in town have dematerialized. Fun. This includes trying to come up with some sort of pleasantly diverting birthday plan. Despite all temptation to be lamely passive-aggressive and sit around waiting for someone else to care enough to put something together, it is part of the Stacey Rule of Life that you just don't set yourself up for depression.
The redeeming parts of my summer have largely been music-related. For those of you who are musically inclined, I thought I'd give a run-down of the highlights.
Best festival - musical lineup: Celtic Fling in Mannheim, PA. I didn't even get to stay for the whole thing, but Enter the Haggis (we all know I love them, probably no need for further plugging), Scythian (the band that may be usurping my affection for ETH through the sheer enjoyment of watching them play), Albannach (Scottish tribal drummers whose performances are positively primal), Rathkeltair (otherwise known as Neil Anderson and his mad piping skillz), Brother, Icewagon Flu, Ceann, the Town Pants...there were some epic performances, especially when the bands joined forces. I now understand why the Fling ceilidh is legendary, and I was sorry to miss Sunday. We had to leave Saturday night to get me back for church; getting home around 5am didn't leave me much sleep, but it was worth it.
Best festival - dance therapy: Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, NY. I've gotten used to Celtic festivals, so certain things about this fest took me by surprise. How very out of place I felt having come in my work clothes, for one example (bare feet and loose, flowy, minimal clothing being the order of the day). The utter lack of Guinness or bagpipers, for another. The distinctive haze in the air. The abundance of vegetarian food. I had sort of forgotten about hippie folk festivals, but this one was great fun, even for the short time I was there. And the dancing - well. No one beats this crowd for kicking up dust, and the free love vibe meant there wasn't a moment of hesitation when Scythian stirred up their signature arm-locked, synchronized leg kicking.
Best festival - setting: Hunter Mountain International Celtic Festival. This place is SO beautiful, surrounded by mountains. Good times with my boys Cliudan, who I hadn't seen in a while. Saw the Young Dubliners and Black 47 for the first time, and of course got to catch yet another ETH show.
Best festival - general good times: Great American Irish Festival, Herkimer, NY. I would love to see a little more variety in their band lineup (and this was only my second year), but I can't really complain about seeing ETH and the Elders together again. ETH even pulled out a one-time Rage Against the Machine cover, much to my delight - and Trevor, usually the "sensitive one," did quite the amazing and convincing job with the metal rap (except for the gleeful giggle in the middle). But for me, this one isn't really about the music; that's a fortunate excuse and great soundtrack for one of the best weekends of the summer. The odd little community we call the Haggis Heads shows up in full force and sets up a sprawling, all-hours camp with the most amazing brunches EVER. Too much fun.
Best single-act show: Scythian's Live CD release concert in Sellersville, PA. Some combination of the company, the venue, and the even greater than usual energy of the band made this one really special. Maybe it was their joy over the "baby" being born. These guys can always be counted on for good, straightforward fun, by the way. If you need a little pick-me-up, I strongly recommend that you find their nearest show immediately, or at least pop in the CD. And follow them on Twitter so you can join me in laughing at the pictures they post from the road.
Most unusual show setting: The Rock 'n Blues Cruise with Hot Day at the Zoo and Enter the Haggis. It's a little strange to watch a band while you sway back and forth with the rhythm of the waves rather than the rhythm of the music, but it was great fun to enjoy the music and the views of Boston Harbor, and I was pretty impressed with Hot Day's bluegrass/jam band vibe.
Most disappointing show: O.A.R. at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. I saw them two years ago at the same venue and had a fantastic time, but then, I was in about the tenth row and they played with Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, who I love. Now I am wildly spoiled by great, high-energy, smallish-venue bands. If I can't see them well, it's because I've chosen to sit back from the stage and relax a bit away from the speakers, where the sound is better. They connect with their audiences, partially because they can actually see us. If I want to ask them a question about their music, I just walk up after a show and ask. It's just a different performance experience than the large venue shows, and I can no longer claim to be a fan of paying megabucks to sit 800 miles from the stage and listen to something that could be piping from a CD for all I can tell. Makes me a little apprehensive about the Weezer show I'm considering for next week.
That's all for the recap of the Summer of Fests and Frustrations. Back to prepping for the fall.