Guest Author - Chris Curtis
Life in the hay fields of the Walsh Farm in Oak Hill, NY comes alive for 5 days during the hottest week of July each year. Not only was the weather blistering hot for Grey Fox 2010, the music was burning wildly on all of the stages. Day time heat and humidity sent families scurrying to the nearby water flume park in droves but many remained behind to fill up the stages and enjoy the sets. The multiple shade tents set up at the main stage area were a big hit along with the mist tents that kept people refreshed from the intense sun. Grey Fox takes care of its people and truly listens to meaningful suggestions.
The Grey Fox community of people is an amazing lot. There is a true cooperative spirit that begins as the camps rise up on Wednesday. Neighbors welcome one another and lend a helping hand where needed. Often life time friendships arise from the shared experience. At the end of the day on Sunday as campers break down, there is a bitter sweet feeling of joy for the shared experience and of sadness for the finality of another year.
Here are a few encounters with these amazing people.
On Thursday afternoon during the Josh Williams main stage set, the power inexplicably died. Quick thinking on the part of the stage manager, brought Josh and his band down beside the stage and called those in attendance out of their seats forward to the front to hear the set acoustically while the stage crew worked on the power. There were no complaints but rather many compliments for the Grey Fox experience of improvisation.
One person spoke of having to sell extra tickets at the last minute. It took trust to transfer the tickets to the buyers ahead of time through the Grey Fox on line ticket transfer with payment to be collected when they arrived at the site on Thursday. Upon arrival, it took one phone call and a few minutes wait and the ticket buyer was right there with the payment. You can depend on Grey Fox patrons to be honest and trustworthy.
A young boy (10 – 12 years old) was sitting in the Master’s tent for the Mandolin set. He sported a brown derby similar to John Hartford’s and held onto a guitar on which he was collecting signatures from the artists. The man next to him struck up a conversation with the youth who was asking about the musicians on stage. At the end of the set, as he determinedly got up to go get Dave Grisman’s autograph on the guitar, he turned to the man and said “What is your name, sir?” Then upon learning the name, he ever so politely said “It was a pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Al”. Someone has raised the boy well.
An older woman was walking up the hill to the main stage area dragging a rolling cart behind her. She was ever so slowly making her way with the heavy cart. A young woman (late teens) gingerly passed her, took a few extra steps ahead, turned around and stepped back to the woman saying, “can I help you pull that up the hill?” Her kindness made the older woman beam and lightened her load.
These are just a few of the amazing connections that happen in the transformed New York hay field known as Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. There is no better communal experience to be had.