Summer Tour 2013 Part 3 OMG Brushwood...

OMG Brushwood...I’m not saying OMG Brushwood because of how awesome Brushwood is, (although it is one the most friggin awesome festival spaces EVER) I am saying OMG because now I have to write about our experience at Brushwood ~ OMG!!!! How does one fucking do that? Can I say fuck in my blog? Of course I can. It’s my blog and that’s the best word for this situation. So where was I? Oh yeah OMG BRUSHWOOD, fuck, here goes.

After our Sunday morning Unity service in Cleveland we headed straight for Brushwood Folklore Center in upstate New York. Nyx and I were incredibly excited because we had been before and LOVED it. The Festival grounds of Brushwood host many festivals and two of its largest are Sirius Rising and Summer Fest. Both of these are week-long fests (Sunday to Sunday) and are held back to back in July without interruption. We were scheduled to perform at both. So there is your technical information.

Now I get to rant ~ Brushwood is truly is one of the very best festival spaces I have ever been to and I have been to a lot. It’s privately owned and therefore lovingly tended to all year round by the fabulous owners who, along with scores of volunteers, do a first rate job. And it’s not just the variety of camp space, or the food vendors, or faerie woods, or the stages (yes I said stages) or the shrines (the faerie shrine is my personal favorite) or the dead bic altar, or the labyrinth, or the four direction flushies, or the massive fires and their keepers, or the stripper pole, or the…….. wait for it……. drumming. I got down on my knees to type that (not really, but I should have).

Let me bump this down a space or two - the drumming has to have its own paragraph. Sirius Rising has the best drumming of any festival I have ever been to, period. Anyone who has been to Sirius Rising and is reading this right now agrees with me. Unless they have been somewhere with better drumming ~ and if they have, it is not on this planet. But seriously let me know if there is any festival with a better nightly drum circle than Sirius Rising and I will RUN there. Every drum circle has its moments; Sirius Rising has epic transcendent super novas. To fine-tune this a bit - it is not because of “the drumming” that the drumming is so good. It’s because of the drummers. The drummers that go to Sirius are the best festival djembe & hand percussion drummers in the country and they are coming to their sacred space – the Round House.  There is also the Didge Dome. (there are two separate drum circle spaces and they do not interfere with each other.)  They are both awesome in their own way, but for my purposes I will focus on the Round House.  I have been to the Round House Drum circles only twice now. The first time is like the first time you have amazing sex with someone new. Incredible right? But the second time is even better because you have been thinking about it and gotten yourself all worked up and thought about even more stuff you could do to expand the experience the next time. Right? This is how I felt about my time in the Round House: Round House=Great Sex and your hands hurt after. The drumming lasts all night, every night. Yes, starting Sunday night. It goes til roughly noon the next day – and sometimes it goes all day. I experienced some of the best drumming just after sunrise. The drummers go in shifts and some stay all night. I could go on and on about the drummers (Kelly Bezl Miguel – and so many more) and the many things that happened in the Round House during Sirius/Summer Fest but I can’t cause I have to tell you about lots of other stuff too. And some things are just not explainable with words. Just know that every day was filled with expectation of the drum circle that night, at least for me and the drummers I camped with, and every night was its own unique and spontaneous rhythmical magic. I have ultimate admiration for all the drummers who make that sacred sonic alchemy with wood and skins, hands and hearts, beating with abandon in the center of Round House.

Back to when we arrived - Andrea greeted us when we first pulled up. She had gotten there just before. Andrea had flown in to attend the first fest, Sirius Rising. The year before I told her she HAD to come and she made it happen. I was thrilled to share it with both her and Lynda who were experiencing it for the first time. After registering we drove directly to Beat St - the small road leading back to drum camp (so coined by Bezel who also made a street sign to mark it). When we got there went into high gear to get our camp set up before dark.

The tents are the easy part. The tricky part is putting up tarps to help protect the tents and our kitchen space from the rain. We were going to be there for two weeks so it wasn’t a question of if the rain was coming, but when. We did a pretty decent job – I thought. When the rain came, it came hard. Nikki had a hard time with the tent she borrowed from her son. One of the poles broke and it looked like a mutant lean-to that someone should shoot to put out of its misery. She had to keep moving her stuff around so that it would stay dry, and unfortunately it didn’t. Also there was one spot in the tarps that would gather water. When I came out of my tent at one point during a rain storm there was this precarious pile of things stacked from the ground up to lift the tarp in that particular spot so the water would run off the side. It looked just like when Sylvester the cat stacks up everything in the house to get to tweetie. Thank god for Nyx who had assembled it in a jiffy during a torrential downpour. Otherwise I don’t know what would have happened.

Here’s another rain story: There were many more dry days than wet thank god. But one day it rained all day. A bit stir crazy Lynda and I were hankering to play double solitaire. This is a card game we love and have played many times together. But we neglected to bring any cards with us (you need two decks). Determined to play I drove to the tiny country grocery store in town (al la green acres) to see if they had some. Well I thought they did. The only decks of cards in the store turned out  to be peanuckle cards. I didn’t know there were different *KINDS* of decks so I didn’t look closely at the package. Anyone who knows how to play peeknuckle (no one really does) knows that the peanuckle deck is completely screwed up. Has anyone noticed that I have spelled peeknuckle differently, and might I add, incorrectly each time? THAT’S BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SPELL IT AND WHY SHOULD I? No, I am not going to look it up! Moving on… So in PEEEEEKNUCKLE there are no  2’s or 3’s or anything like that. It’s a 48 card deck consisting of twelve cards in each of the four suits - two in each rank; Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack, and Nine, and there are no 2 – 8's. This simply won’t do for double solitaire, which is the same as single solitaire except both players race to play on the same aces and sometimes, it gets violent ~ which is why we love it I'm pretty sure. ANYWAY… (stay with me here it gets better) We were very anxious to play. So we decided that since we had enough cards (if you count the jokers) we would use a sharpie to change the doubles into the cards we needed. I do not know how long this took but we had a red sharpie and a black sharpie and plenty of time on our hands so we just went for it.  The resulting game was hilarious. The decks ended up looking insane.  We played about 3 or 4 hands before we just gave up. Ignoring the actual card value for the scribbled sharpie marking proved much harder than we thought.  But it provided alot of laughs and by the end the rain had stopped so we got to go frolick. 

Andrea and I had a great time at the round house each night but also attending concerts and workshops, visiting with old friends and making new ones, eating at the cafes, exploring the woods, walking the labyrinth and shopping the vendors. We were honored to be camping with the drummers and loved being that close to the drum cricle. Going back and forth was a breeze. And every night, when we finally did get to sleep, we slept like a babies wrapped in the warmth of the hypnotic beat that wove its way into our dreams like a blanket in the night.

My perforances were all lot of fun. We played for the Sirius Rising speakers meet and greet on Tuesday and again at the café on Friday afternoon. Also we played with Freedom and many of the other drummers and performers including Kenny Klein, Billy Woods and Nighthawk Satuday night for the community dance jam.  At Summer Fest our main stage show was fabulous with guest drumming from Nighthawk (who lucky for us played with us for all of our shows) and Billy Woods – drum and thai chi master. I am always honored beyond woods to play with both of them. We played again for Frank’s birthday party (the owner) later in the week. It was a great way to wrap up our time there.

So much happened – how can I tell you all of it? I can’t. But I can sum up by saying that we all cried when we drove away. Yes all three of us. So many amazing dear souls in one sacred place it is almost too much to bear. We keep saying, long after we were back on the road, bye amazing drum circle… bye amazing people…. bye beautiful camp site… Thank all the powers that be they asked us back. I can’t wait to be there again!!


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