H.W.A. – Hippies with Attitudes

By Ryan Neeley exclusively for Appalachian Jamwich

I’ve been to hundreds of shows and festivals in my day, and a few times each summer I witness a happening that I never quite understand and it always bothers me a great deal – The shaming of people who are either new to the scene or aren’t “hippie enough.”    I’ve seen this multiple times – either by telling people that Robert Hunter or Bill Monroe is going to be playing at an after party, saying “Man, Trey is a master on the Kirby vacuum cleaner,” or simply quizzing people about a band, song or event.

The reason I don’t understand this is simple – Were these people born with this inherited knowledge of the scene?   Or were they once that wide eyed person that was brought to their first show by a friend who raved about Bathtub Gin or begged for an Althea?   Each one of us came into the scene not knowing Paige side from a side of veggie stir-fry, and learned more as we followed the bands, read anything we could get our hands on and talked to friends around the campfire.   There were times when we probably looked stupid, like when I met Wavy Gravy and thought he was Bill Kreutzmann.  But our family and friends looked past that and helped us through it, many times talking for hours about bands while we took mental notes to recall the facts later.

Many years back, I took an “office job” and cut off 16 inches of hair in an effort to look more corporate.   I was starting a family and needed to land a job with benefits and a future, and at the time, I had been to countless Phish shows and a handful of Dead shows just before Jerry passed.  I knew Dead trivia like Ken Jennings knew Jeopardy, but you know what?   My first show I was treated differently.  I was shocked – ME?   And it made me realize – If they’re going to treat me differently because I don’t “fit in” with you, the people who are trying so hard not to “fit in”, I don’t want to hang out around anyway.   Because that’s not what the scene is about – The scene I came up in was all about acceptance, it was a “come as you are” scene where everyone was welcome and NOBODY was judged.   If you were here for the music then brother or sister, you were ok with me.

So, I ask you, if you witness one of these events where you see an H.W.A., or “Hippie with Attitude” treating a newbie badly or making them feel unwelcome, do something about it.   Confront the H.W.A. and take the newbie under your wing.   Remember that at one time, long ago, you were that wide-eyed newbie thirsty for the knowledge you have today – And it aint doin’ ya no good if you don’t share it.