Where have all the legends gone? The masters of sound, the creators of
eclectic scenes in space for all who find the rhythm's deep trance.
I found a willing group of merry travelers in search of true and pure
music. We planned a trip to attend a mighty festival. The Further Festival
in June was held through the green mountains of Charlotte, N.C. The morning
was covered in dew and the sun warmed the day's pretense over the dawn's
gentle horizon. We hummed down 40 East in my old Cherokee Pioneer (named
Wingfoot) chasing down what promised to be a night to behold and remember.
We laughed the whole way there, watching the scrolling mountains pass by as
we cut through the plush green valleys. The months of constant rain had
allowed nature to produce an excellent abundance of everything living. We
traveled by the morning mist and arrived by the afternoon haze. The
five-hour drive felt like two as we pulled up to the never-ending parking
lot based in the summer heat. We were informed that the lot didn't open
until 4 p.m. We had to kill a couple of hours in the air-conditioned bar of
Applebee's and watch the day blaze by.
By 4 p.m. my head was swimming in the heat, and all constants found outside
the gate melted away as a big orange light waved us in. We entered a
gigantic gravel parking lot that turned into a small city of vans, campers,
cars and happy people. As the day progressed, we wandered around the scene
to make friends and find different ways to enjoy the day that immediately
took an unfamiliar turn to an unfamiliar land. Everything was still and
peaceful in the ancient art of motion.
The show consisted of a performance by Rusted Root that waned in comparison
to previous performances I have seen. This was due to the crowd's
collective consciousness that was resting in the heat and waiting for the
nighttime madness sure to arrive. We were hassled by security but this just
seems to be part of festivals in the South. I watched as the smiling sun
dipped behind the hill of the Blockbuster Pavilion. The grassy hill was
perfect for the jammin' sounds of Hot Tuna.
As the light changed to artificial means, we prepared ourselves for the
dance, everyone was watching and whispering. The Other Ones, the former
Grateful Dead members, were graced by the music of Phil Lesh, Bruce
Hornsby, Mickey Hart and Bob Weir. Hornsby lit the keys on fire. Lesh did
some singing and the band as a whole took the crowd for a dancing ride in
the sky. The group played St. Steven for the first time in about 15
years, everyone was celebrating the good summer and all her fragile loves .
They opened with the happiness of Truckin', played songs like
Friend of the Devil and never let up. One set, two hours of intense
celebration that led us to another time. I conceived thoughts of what my
father must have felt in the days when the Dead played in Georgia parks for
Everyone danced intermingling and intertwining in the grass of the
amphitheater. Every direction was filled by sweating bodies in the Carolina
heat. Our blessing was the soft breeze that seemed to blow in the music's
The tribal trance induced by the drums of Hart pulsed through the spine of
the crowd. The frenzy of life came billowing over in wild sax playing. Two
guitar players covered the much missed brilliance of Jerry Garcia's
captain-like presence and expansive guitar solos.
"It must be getting early, the clocks are running late," ran through the
Pavilion as the Other Ones weaved the night's final tune. Touch of
Gray was in all respects, a true work of audial art. A magical glow left
on our faces was evidence enough that everyone was feeling alive and loving
life, at least for a while. Just as Jerry used to promise, "We will get by,
we will survive;" so we had.
We left after an hour or so of listening to drums and rehashing the events
of the day while wandering around the vender's tents and talking with
traveling bands of young people following the tour.
We were on the road no more than an hour when my eyes began playing tricks
on me. The road seemed to arch like a snake and the white lines were not
behaving as they usually do, so I gave up the wheel to safely finish our
trip to Asheville. It was time to rest our "weiry" bones for the night.
As I started to unravel from the day, I couldn't hear anything but the
floating instrument sounds of the night, still resonating in the depths of
my consciousness, the songs still play when I fall back into to that
brilliant experience in the bright, Charlotte sun.
Quest locates music legends
Published: Sat Aug 22, 1998 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 01:34 p.m.