I was off for 11 days in all. The first few days were staycation and prep for the big trip to the fiddle convention in Mount Airy, North Carolina, my first convention in 12 years, and the last two days were much-needed recovery time. Really. I was tired the entire time and damn well fried by the time I got home...and I didn't even feel normal until five days after I got back, but what a time I had.
The younger folks and hardier geezers camp out at the festival site, but being a wimp, I stayed in a hotel, as did a goodly number of other folks I know. I was fortunate to have my good friends/day camping buddies staying right down the hall from me, which made for ease of coordination when it came to breakfast runs, trips back and forth to the hotel when it rained, etc. We generally went to the festival site after breakfast, did our thing during the day, had dinner together at local restaurants, then hung out in the evenings until we petered out and went back to the hotel. Gone are the days of me staying up until the wee hours playing tunes and partying, although I did make it to 1:00 one of the four nights. The rest of the time I was on my way back to the hotel around 11:00 and ready to sleep. I did feel like I missed out on some good late-night music because of this, but listening to my body is of utmost importance due to my MS and other health problems. So be it.
The music, oh man. The first night my aforementioned good friends dragged me into a session with a very renowned fiddler from the area where the convention was held. I was like, "OMG are you kidding me, you actually think I can keep up with him?," but I actually was able to, and it sounded great. Other notable sessions were with my friends' bandmates, who both play fiddle, and VERY WELL, and although I was fudging the notes and maybe playing half the notes that they played (at best!), it worked well enough, and playing with them was definitely a confidence booster. Other than that I had just sorta regular sessions with folks who I know, including one at an afterparty that I went to after the convention ended (friends of mine have a lovely house in the country about 10 miles away and they always have a brunch/afterparty). These were not scintillating sessions but they were social music, which is what this is all about anyway.
One of the sessions I played in was with a friend who wanted me to teach her 14-year-old son some tunes. She recorded a couple of them and posted them on YouTube -- let's just say they sound more than a little mediocre to me. When one plays at "teaching speed" rather than at full tilt, intonation problems are greatly magnified, and that's what happened in this case. I hate that my first-ever appearance on YouTube sounds like that. :(
But did I mention how great it was to see dozens, no, make that probably a couple hundred people or more who I haven't seen in AT LEAST a dozen years, and in some cases more than 20 years, depending on who went to which festival when? There were so many hugs given, and I told so many people the story of why I went away and what happened to me during those years, and they were empathetic, albeit sometimes shocked, and they were so glad to have me back on the scene. And did I mention how much fun it was to cruise the abundance of festival cocktail parties on that Saturday afternoon? My day camping buddies had a CD release party...and then there was a 70th birthday party for a very renowned musician from the local area...then I stopped briefly at a couple of other cocktail parties. I did, of course, wear my festival cocktail partywear...a gaudy patterned sundress and a fedora with a hat pin shaped like a fiddle...and sunglasses, of course, because the summer sun blazes on the North Carolina Piedmont. I took it easy on the alcohol that day, though, because I had gone a little bit overboard (for me) the day before and felt rather depleted. But as I have long since learned, one doesn't need alcohol to have fun. It was a great day. And a great festival. I only wish I had the energy and the paid time off to do a whole lot more of that this summer, but it looks like my only other foray will be in September, to another smaller festival that has hotels nearby. Maybe by next summer I can figure out the camping thing.
You know what? There were competitions associated with all this...in band as well as individual instruments, and I was so busy with all that I was doing that I never even made it over to the stage to listen, let alone compete. Another thing to put on the list for next year.
So anyway...that's the vacation story, quick as I can make it. :)