so rothbury.

rothbury, rothbury, rothbury.

photo by plounsbury

with some estimates reaching 40,000 people, it was a weekend of mayhem. due to traffic, it took about three hours longer than it should have to make my way to m!ch!gan! (why did they ever stop using that?) but the timing was perfect. i pulled into the artist check-in right as my phone stopped getting reception, and exactly as the adam ezra group van pulled in.

we got our tickets, car passes, artist badges (i had an artist badge!) and made our way around the michigan backroads to the artist campgrounds. it was awesome, we pulled in among the weeds and the crunchy grass, pulling my jeep up next to the van after swerving around pup tents and wildflowers (bad karma to run over the wildflowers, let me tell you)

the general population had two options for camping: shantytown, hooverville style:

or swiss-family-robinson hammocks in the tree style:

both of which had their respective merits. i was prepared to nest up in the back of the jeep, having brought a sleeping bag, down comforter, and a quilt. very princess and the pea.

finding the first concert of the day was EASY. just follow the vibrations in the ground.
to snoop dogg.

my first impressions: people. with crazy outfits, or naked, many smoking all kinds of stuff, many dancing and singing. the audience of the show was its own show, and we'd only just gotten here :)

adam took off to find some ourstage people and get the set details figured out. we split up into groups, first acknowledging the general lack of cell reception or likelihood that we'd ever find each other again. ever. that being said, i wandered off with a couple of the guys and we started by a meandering walking tour of the entire campgrounds, and that took more than a little while. there was a farmer's market, six venues, food & gear vendors, issue rallies, and just PEOPLE. so freaking cool.

we all managed to regroup several hours later backstage at modest mouse.

just take a minute and realize that one.

one of my favorite bands, the kind of band where i can say "if i made music it might sound something like that," and i was backstage at one of the largest concerts of the weekend, being handed a beer by a new friend / artist i respect who brought me to this magical musical wonderland. one of those I AM REALLY HERE moments. very cool.

after the show we walked some more, caught some dinner, hit the VIP port-o-johns (not kidding, they were like real bathrooms in someone's home), hung out a little in the VIP tent, and went back out for more.

as the sun was setting, we took turns going backstage to widespread panic. i've never actually known anything about these guys, i've heard the name but not ever really gave a listen, and they're crazy. crazy good, it's the essence of jam band where every song goes on for half an hour and you're in the crowd dancing around and you're like, "did this song end? are they doing a new one?" no, dear, it's all one magnificent song that goes on forever.

i'm sure it's better if you're stoned. i got a little bored an hour into it. :)
i was able to stay focused by watching the light show, which was absolutely killer

and people were throwing fistfulls of glowsticks into the air like little firecrackers of their own. and that's how we ended the fourth of july, stumbling back to the jeep and van in the dark, occasionally illuminated by the real fireworks.

the forest was well lit by the people throwing the festival, it was a dreamy surreal show called sherwood forest and i kept picturing little disney foxes and rabbits and roosters running around.

didn't end up camping, though. a couple people did but they got me a rollaway bed in a nearby hotel where most of the band was staying - i shared a room with josh and turtle, and it was really cool to get to know them better, and super fun to be with people who are so easy to get along with. i'm not sure how to explain it... after a certain age it seems so awkward to have a co-ed sleepover because of social rules, but i shared a hotel room with two married men and it was like we were all old friends.

betcha didn't see THAT coming.

day two we went BACK to chicago. the ride was much shorter. i rode with tom, who is one of those people you meet who are just shockingly awesome. a totally unassuming character, but when you get him talking he's played jazz drums with all these people that even laypeople know. i mean, i am in no way a jazz enthusiast but just the names, and the venues and the abstract things he knows about playing and how he can explain it all. it was a treat to listen.

and a treat when he indulged me in going fireworks shopping at a tent behind a gas station. which turned out to be a brilliant plan, i ended up getting $20 worth of sparklers for free. the kid playing cashier didn't even bother to ring it up. SWEET.

so we got back in time for me to give tom a quick driving tour of downtown before heading to joe's on weed street where two events happened at the same time: the Adam Ezra Group concert extravaganza... and the ultimate fighting championships on the spike network. and with Joe's being a sports bar and all, guess what was on six jumbo screens during the entire alt-acoustic-rock-set. ridiculous. songs about writing songs in the basement and some guy is behind the band getting his nose smashed in........

anyway. we broke up for the night - everyone knows someone in chicago, i for one crashed on my sisters couch so i could park the jeep in a driveway instead of blocks away from my apartment - picked up adam around 7am sunday morning to go back to rothbury. after we fruitlessly tried to do the sunday morning crossword puzzle, he slept that kind of trying-not-to-sleep, that super twitchy startle awake sleep, and i just kept my foot on the gas until i had to stop and take a stretch.

adam drove the last leg of the trip, we got in around 12 - the guys played around 2 and the set was super short (45 mintues) but they sounded great. they played in what was essentially a circus tent, playing after the burlesque trapeze (NOT KIDDING) and before some girl with an accordion who was pretty interesting but sounded more like art than music. like early regina spektor.

in the afternoon we kind of split up again, i had dinner with marieanne, who acts as kind of a tour manager for the guys - though she's more in my kind of position, a fan who is generally helpful and put-together enough to be a more functional fan :) we had a long, good talk about bands and the industry and what it takes to get off the ground. i have a ton to learn, even though i've had a good look at the inner workings of bands who play on many levels. but it's still different for each, even if two bands take the same steps, it's a matter of marketability + contacts + talent + desire + luck.

after we went to go see john mayer, it was getting to be evening and some of the guys wanted to go back to the hotel. we left half the band with the van and some hotel keys, while marianne josh and turtle and i went back and got some dinner at the hotel.

over dinner i had a little epiphany: that i might be a good tour manager. i mentioned it as a joke, but then the response i got was so positive from these guys that i got serious and said, you know, since i get three weeks off next year let's think about this some more. and since i've gotten home i've gotten in touch with some artist management people i know and, well, that's not such a far-fetched idea. more on that later.

anyway, after dinner we all climbed into bed, this time having a guys room and girls room! until tom came rolling in around 3, drunk as a skunk, and crashed on the rollaway. we had to wake him up about four hours later so they could drive ALL THE WAY BACK TO BOSTON IN ONE DAY. sick, right? so goodbyes were as so many are and will ever be, long hugs in the parking lot wiping the sleepies out of our eyes. mumblings of "i'll call you later" and "you're so freaking cool" and "thanks for a great weekend" and "don't fall asleep on the road."

got home around 11am and went to bed.