No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bluegrass and Pine

Pickin' in the Pines is an annual Flagstaff event consisting of a full weekend of live bluegrass and acoustic music. The Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music organization facilitates it, offering on site camping, a Friday-Sunday main stage schedule of live performers from all over the United States, a weekend series of workshops and dances on the second stage ranging from a family dance with live caller, and live musicians, an evening contra dance, again with live caller and musicians, and a second stage with meet-the-band sessions and instructive workshops on instrument play. This year they added a kid's stage with a Musical Petting Zoo consisting in thirty different instruments for "children of all ages" to go and play, as well as Pickin' in Town--an event in the heart of Flagstaff with live music on the square downtown, and performances in various businesses as well.

The nine year old and I spent two four hour sessions volunteering at the event. I committed to doing more local-specific activities, and with a friend organizing the volunteer participation for this festival it seemed an obvious decision. It turned out I got scheduled to work the kid activity pop-up in the midst of the venue field with full listening and viewing appreciation of the stage. What luck! The musicians included some of the top fiddle players in the United States, as well as some well established, award winning, top-10 on the bluegrass list bands. I'll confess before this weekend I didn't realize that bluegrass had its own top 10. My volunteer time turned out to be dominated by face painting on both days, and hula hooping on Saturday. It turns out four little girls ranging from 6 to 11 simply eat up recognition for their hula hooping ability. They spent 45 minutes showing me their various tricks and teaching them to me as well. Though I'd loved hula hoop in elementary school I hadn't done it since but by the end of our play time they'd shown me how to do it to the music, while spinning in place, or while walking, around my neck, around my arm, and even around my ankle (while jumping over it as it spun past my other leg--this one I'll have to practice). By the end of Sunday a local event organizer asked for my business card to hire me for face painting. I might start a new career.

This is an outrageously gorgeous town. Check out the huge ponderosa pines the Pine Mountain Amphitheatre (the sight of the festival) rest within. You've gotta love the way locals participate in these events too--hula hooping, squashed out in the grass, dancing. It poured rain and hail for two hours mid-Saturday. No one even bothered to leave and the scheduled band just kept playing.

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