We arrived at Dodds Farm right on time at 5PM Wednesday, except they’d let people in early, at 2PM. So we drove to the same area we’d been in last year, and found the first canopy up and some friends there. We parked and unloaded, then set up our tent. We helped to set up two more canopies, and it was starting to get dark. We helped Stuart and his brother Cliff set up their tent, then we drove into town and ordered pizzas for the group at Four Brothers, going to the Stewarts for some ice while they cooked. We got back to camp, got some beers, and devoured the pizza – greasy and perfect. We were wiped after all the work, and went to bed soon after.
This was our fifth year there, and we continued the tradition of the last four years, where we and the Jewells split cooking duties. Stuart’s wife and daughter weren’t there this year due to a conflict, but his brother stepped up. For breakfast they made pancakes and homemade scrapple. We hung out for a while as music from the main stage wouldn’t start until evening, but we discovered Red Molly (one of our favorite finds from last year) was playing in a row of vendors, so some of us went down to see that. We also found that The Strangelings would be playing the Budgiedome around 6, so we went to check that out too. A good warm up for the evening, which got started with the annual steak and martini night courtesy of the Jewells. Later on we went to see Marshall Crenshaw at the main stage, a longtime favorite of Jill’s mom (so Jill knows all his early stuff).
Friday I got up at 7 to do the tarp run at the main stage to save space, then came back to camp and started making scrambled eggs and sausage. We headed over to the main stage at noon to see the start of the Emerging Artist Showcase, since Vienna Teng was playing first (she’s a big name – plays at the Birchmere around here, got a Tori/Vanessa Carlton flavor). I went back and forth between camp and the showcase – I wanted to see artists, but it was damn hot. I made sure to also catch Edie Carey and Five2 – I’d listened to music from all of them the previous week, and had picked my favorites already. Later in the afternoon, they held a Beatles showcase at the workshop stage, with a bunch of interesting performers. I hadn’t seen the Dust Poets before, and they did a nice polka version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers had a good acappella beginning to “Blackbird” and a sloppy take on “With A Little Help From My Friends”, while Lucy Kaplansky performed a moving version of “Let It Be”.
I took a quick shower in the afternoon (I usually shower then because the lines are incredibly long in the mornings) before helping batten down the hatches as a storm was approaching. We even had time to make dinner (sauteed onions and peppers on grilled chicken sausages) and eat it before the rain came. The storm wasn’t too bad to us, and we went back to the main stage to see most of Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers (stage was too low for a backflip during “Uninspired Gambling”, though). Jill was psyched for the Friday Night Summer’s Eve Song Swap with Marshall Crenshaw, Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell, but Lucy only got through one song before the rain returned with a vengeance. Luckily it was the new one Jill most wanted to hear, “Manhattan Moon”, as we got too damp to make it through the rain delay and went back to camp to dry out (and wait out the lightning in the car).
Saturday Meg and Cliff did the tarp run, so I slept in until it was time for the first workshop stage, which featured Red Molly so I had to go. They were good, especially on their version of “Darlin’ Corey”. Also good were The Lovell Sisters, who were much younger than I expected. I got a ham, egg and cheese crepe from The Skinny Pancake and brought it back to camp, then saw the rest of Tracy Grammer & Jim Henry and caught some of the Bob Dylan tribute before seeing the Most Wanted Song Swap with Pat Wictor, Red Molly, and Jill’s new fave Ellis. I took a break to cool off before checking out the The Songwriting Process workshop with Dar Williams, John Gorka and Ellis (and Dar played a brand new song).
Late in the afternoon, Stuart and I braved the uncommonly long shower lines for a “two beer shower” – two beer because we each brought one to drink, and could have had another in the time it took to make our way through the lines. We saved our big cooking for Saturday night, making fajitas and guaca-salsa. It took a while (and we barely made it to the stage on time), but it was dang tasty. The big finale was on the main stage that night, with Dar, Eddie From Ohio and Lowen & Navarro. Later we had the annual Saturday night Canexican night, and efo stopped by for a while (they skipped last year due to nasty weather). It was good to see them, but they left and the folks that stayed the longest were Dan Navarro and Annie Wenz, telling funny stories of cousins and naked calendars.
Sunday morning we were up early to tear down and pack up our stuff. We said our goodbyes and left around 8, right when we wanted. However, we took a wrong turn and got to 87 about 30 minutes behind schedule. We were doing ok, but the kennel Illa was staying at closed at 4, and we knew it’d be cutting it close to get there, so we called and told them we’d pick him up on Monday. That was wise, because as we sat outside White Castle getting ready to get back on the road, the skies opened and remained open the rest of the way home. The NJ turnpike was awful and we took 295, then 95 in Delaware was bad and we got on 40 to Baltimore, and of course the Beltway sucked, and we had to get on the BW Parkway and take backroads to Bethesda. We didn’t get home until 7 and we didn’t do much besides unload the car before heading to bed.
A good vacation overall, it was good to see as much family and friends as we did. Lessons learned: we shouldn’t schedule so tightly at the beginning and end, and we need to not travel on 95 on Sunday afternoon. We’ll see how some new strategies work next year, as it will be Falcon Ridge’s 20th anniversary and we wouldn’t miss it even if that means we can only fly into Albany for the weekend.