Written by Stew Pitt

Photos by Incogneato Photography

While Bless The Woods Festival has since passed, June 8-12, 2017 in Fairplay, MD, the positive feelings are still strong in my memory.  Something that has left quite a mark on me from this year’s Bless the Woods 6 is the overwhelming sense of community that seemed to immediately envelop my being upon arrival, then clinging onto me like a curious child with a never ending list of questions. I was energized by every hug, smile, and chirp of laughter, and greeted by the faces of friends I’ve known and the friends I’d yet to make. The vibe was fantastic from beginning to end, thanks to cohorts Samuel McJonathan and Dan Morgan, the woods and everyone in ’em was blessed those four days, with music, lights, and dancing; some with hoops, some with fire, and some with umbrellas and fancy attire.

One of my first new friends was a guy named Ranjit, the Indian cuisine purveyor who set up shop next to the stage. His delicious food was only outdone by the hours and days he spent riding the electric skateboard with his blue longshirt flowing behind him. He was just a piece of the scene that unfolded each day in front of the stage. Kids dancing, balls flying through the air, bubbles finding their way to a smiling face, and band after band of MUSIC.

Secondhand Reggae Band

The standout act for me was Close to Consideration, a band I can describe as nothing short of a precision channeled connection to Source energy that entices every proton in my being to boogie. With first rate, first world Reggae acts such as Secondhand, Cheezy and the Crackers, and Suburban Sensi, the “wookie” vibe was strong in them there woods, even with the off kilter antics of the Brokedown Hustlers. Other strong mentionables were Humandala and Squaring the Circle, each band bringing unique sounds and rhythms for my fingers to tap to. I also really enjoyed experiencing Solar Circuit, a band I had previously only heard from recordings. Throughout many acts of beat thumping music I would suddenly hear the pitter-patter and outer beat inflections of Jay Franklin, the truly fantastic at large percussionist, whose generosity of spirit and kind nature reflect what I consider to be the vibe this gathering represents.

With a great sound setup from Jay Parks and Chris Semler, each day was a chance to dance and dance, and each night was greeted with awesome visuals from Alan Risinger, projected upon the now famous owl created by John Suntiger. Although physically absent from the carnival we all manifested, Suntiger was certainly among us at BTW 6.

This unforgettable endeavor was set on the lovely grounds of Woodsmen of the World in Fairplay, Maryland. A path in the cool bright green woods took adventurers from the stage area to the main camping field, where drums and bonfires could be recognized well into the night. Food and vending could be found in both the stage area and the main camping field, although I admittedly only returned to one vendor twice, and that was BTW BBQ, with great food at reasonable prices.

Brokedown Hustlers

Murals created by patrons and touched up by Heidi O’Toole and Matthew Walls were auctioned off along with a plethora of other great items including Slightly Stoopid tickets. All auction revenues and surplus event revenues go directly to funding the expansion of treatment options for Lyme’s Disease patients through a Lyme’s patient advocacy group, the Mayday Project. With a sturdy following and such a wealth of musical offerings, Bless the Woods will continue to be on my short list for upcoming years.

Learn more about Bless the Woods here.