Thank you Brendan Sullivan for the video!
Photos Below are all credit Roger Gupta 2013
Recap by Rodney Moore
All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretence
Our wanderings to guide.
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS….
Was it all a dream? A manufactured flight of fancy that took me soaring up through the hills of West Virginia? A fevered fantasy, of light and sound, of color and imagination? Of beautiful people and costumed characters. Of wine, Moonshine, and song?
It was a dream… A dream of a little slice of heaven tucked into a mountain niche, where, by the tireless efforts of Taco and Elise Olmstead, and the hard work and dedication of the Appalachian Jamwich Crew,it would be transformed into beautiful reality. And what an unreal reality it would turn out to be! Initially I attempted to describe my experiences, at this fantastic event, in the order I was present for them, however, since I have a knack for rambling, I decided to break up events into pieces and spare you, (while sharing), the Madness….
Down the Rabbit Hole…
The perfect phrase to describe the twisting dusty route that led to our destination. We rolled past shady bowers, over hills and rivers, to ultimately emerge into the sun-filled fields, of the Bavarian Villa, owned by Abe Ashton, in Hedgesville, WV, and the 2nd Annual Mad Tea Party. It was almost as if the weather had been planned for us. Sunny, and in the 80’s all weekend, there wasn’t a storm on any horizon. With ample places to set-up camp, we arrived and took in the scenery, reveling in the magic, that was sure to build, as the weekend progressed. It was, after-all, nearly the summer solstice, with a “supermoon” falling on the last day of the party, if ever there was going to be magic at a festival this was it, and it did not disappoint. As the sun slowly set and a gibbous moon rose that first night, we were treated to a natural symphony of night sounds, of frogs calling from the ponds near the Villa, of whippoorwills singing from the trees. With lights and sounds of music and merriment, the stark white and red roofed Villa was transformed into a enchanted castle against a background of wilderness, with Alice In Wonderland scenes being shown, via projector provided by Lora and Jason Ireland, upon it’s facade. The setting was perfect, a charmed fairground, prepared by nature and man, for the amazing affairs that would follow…
The Queens Croquet Grounds…
Is what I dubbed the Main Event area, or the Main Stage, for though there were no be-headings, there was more than enough going on to take your head to another level. The booths of incredible food, and beautiful crafts circled the meadow, creating an almost natural courtyard. The Music aside, there was still so much happening I felt like a kid at a carnival. Hula Hoopers and costumes, fire spinning, visual artists, and ribbon dancing, accented by lighting design from The Werks Mad Scientist Jim Dewey, it was the kindest circus ever, without the terror of clowns.
Most importantly the Queens Croquet Grounds would be the staging for that most blessed of events, the wedding of Nick Hobbs and Bonnie Strayer. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect union, in a more perfect location. The Bride was radiant, the Groom dashing, Bridesmaids and Groomsmen joyful, the scene joyous. Married by the newly ordained Reverend Taco on stage with The Werks Norman Dimitrouleas playing the processional, I only wish I had the presence of mind to record it. Taco’s opening and welcome blessing, was emotional and heartfelt, and when the bride and groom delivered their beautiful vows, there was not a dry eye in the house. The wedding concluded with the extra special treat of Nick Hobbs’ washtub bass thumpin’ accompanied by Sacred Groove! It was a momentous occasion, falling between the summer solstice and the first night of the supermoon it was truly an epic celebration of love and life, and served to add to the enchantment of the weekend…
A Mad Tea Party…
If Love and Magic were result of the weekend, then Music was the main ingredient for the alchemy. The bands were amazing. Spanning the musical spectrum from Acoustic folk, to experimental electronica, everything I was lucky enough to hear was played from the heart. The one and only downside of working at a festival is not being able to see everything. The UPSIDE, however, was that the scheduling was more than fair. And the location and timing of the bands, as well as the placement of the staging allowed those of us in the work core to catch nearly all the musical acts. With so many outstanding bands on the roster, it’s almost unfair to mention some and not all, but I’d be remiss not to mention some of the highlights that I was privileged enough to catch. Sol Frequency killing it with their jazz-funk-jam style, playing the campfire stage, The People’s Blues of Richmond, CRUSHING on the main stage with their original metal-meets-jam sound. Moogatu, (best band name EVER), the fantastic grassroots styling of Larry Keel and Cabinet. The Kings of Belmont, (a personal favorite), ZOOGMA, Kung Fu and of course the Always Amazing Werks, who’s crew and members helped to insure the success of this event in more ways than can be counted. Lastly but, in no uncertain terms, least, the legendary Ron Holloway, who proved he may be the hardest working man in show business. As the “Artist-in Residence”, Ron jumped up on stage to appear with nearly every band on the Main stage AND Camp fire stage, bringing already hardworking performers a boost that kicked EVERYONE up another level, and brought down the house with each performance…
Through The Looking Glass…
This is the way it went, as Pigeons Playing Ping Pong played to the rising moon, so did the Werks weaving music into the mystical, on the last night of the festival.The Moon hung suspended in the rolling mountain fog, a perfect silver disk framed in the ethereal, as the rosy fingers of dawn lanced across the skies to the east. When the Moon set and a thin watery new sun rose, we were left in a state of awe, Cheshire Cat smiles lingering on every exhausted face, as we basked in the lingering joy of magic, and music, art, love and sunshine.
I couldn’t speak for everyone else, but I can assure you that, though I was sad to see it end, I felt fulfilled. We had, for but a moment in time, stepped through the looking glass, into a realm of Enchantment, a “Wonderland” if you will, created by the vision and will of people who had the courage to dream, and invite others to dream with them… We’ll see you next year!!!
“Cheshire Puss,” she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know if it would like the name; however it only grinned a little wider. “Come, it’s pleased so far,” thought Alice,and she went on, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
” I don’t much care where”- said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you walk,” said the Cat.
“- so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added in explanation.
“Oh you’re sure to do that, said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
-Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland