This past weekend a simple fact of life was proved. With perseverance and hard work any dream can be made into a reality. Such is the case with our friends down in Terra Alta, WV at the Sunshine Daydream Festival Campground. The 15th annual Jerry Garcia’s Birthday Bash consisted of sets from ekoostik hookah, Jazz Mandolin Project, Derek Trucks Band, Keller Williams, and Schleigho just to name a few of the artists that contributed to the overall excellence of this production. The crowd was 4000 strong with most people showing up as early as Wednesday and Thursday to begin what will be one hell of a party that would rage without incident through the final days of the show. I left Sunday and it had the apperance that at least 800 people were planning on staying several more days. They would pay the camping fees to rest their weary legs from whatever roads they have been following. This is more than an option with as hospitable as Trip and Emily are to the good hearted wanderers who make an honest living on tour.

The show consisted of several elements that made the weekend beyond compare. First of all Trip and Emily have one of the most beautiful, developed and maintained pieces of property you will ever have the opportunity to visit. The surrounding hills meet and create a fish bowl of trees and rolling hills that is breathtaking to say the least. They have recently had a pond installed which is fed by two of the many natural springs lying in the valley cutting through the land. In the forest areas are some of the best campsites, shaded by trees and riddled with twisted paths. A new gravity shower has been placed close to the line of cabins, which are slowly popping up on the ridge of the hill. The lovely Emily is the barmaid in the Rainbow’s End Tavern, formerly known as the barn, which featured a glass blowing studio in the basement this past weekend, with many artists demonstrating their skills to the curious. I can’t even continue to describe how much I love the grounds of Sunshine Daydream so I will leave you with those impressions and hope you visit to conjure up some of your own imagery.

Second element, which added to the overall appeal, was the fine quality of the vendors that came out to support the show. Bearly Edible was there touting some of their new affordable food creations. Their menu is still pocket friendly to the frugal traveler. Quality clothing and fine goods venders stretched nearly to the stage in the distance. Not only that but a quantity of blanket venders popped up from within the crowd adjacent to the tented venders and for once the atmosphere of non-competition and goodwill filled the open-air market. I have to admit that is rare these days with so many events restricting the possibility of tour for so many people. It was truly a good vibe and a huge part of what made the event a special.

The third element has to be the kindness of the crowd and smiles that seemed to magnify the daytime sun. Everyone was beaming and the people that surrounded you in every campsite were the good honest folk we all wish to be a reflection of. One of the most moving stories of the weekend was of a terrible fire that occurred in Terra Alta which left a family seven children strong homeless. A collection was announced and Trip said he would match what he collected from the crowd and surrounding businesses towards helping the family recover from the loss. Approximately $2000 was collected from the crowd. The Terra Alta fire department is giving Trip a great deal of credit for his generosity in the matter. Speaking of generosity, Trip and Emily have set up a food drive for each of their shows this season so if you're planning a trip to Sunshine Daydreams, bring canned and dry goods to contribute to this worthy cause.

The fourth element that comes to mind was the overall organization of the show and of course the music. A grassroots security force is one of the best things that Sunshine Daydream has going for them. The security crew consists of people many of us already know. This familiar crew proved effective against some of the bad element that has been appearing throughout the scene. I can gladly say that this kind force of protection ensured a smooth weekend, free from people who would abuse such a beautiful place and the good-natured people who come to enjoy the music and the vibe. The sound and lights, which carried the sounds of the night far into the distance, were of fine quality and the production moved without pause between performances on the main stage and performances on the tavern stage.

The performances were stunning. Hookah put their heart into it, their sets were solid and tight and created out of their commitment to Sunshine Daydream, which is more out of friendship than business. I have to admit that Sunshine Daydream is the only place outside of Hookahville you might catch them riding the vibe and giving it their everything. Derek Trucks once again tore up the stage with his band of awe-inspiring musicians. Keller Williams is one hell of a one-man show finishing his set with an incredible sampled masterpiece dedicated to the sunshine dream that showcased his masterful use of sound textures.

Sunshine Daydream will be having many events this season including Leo Fest (August 3-4), The Recipe Family Cookout/Brew Glass Festival, who have joined forces for a weekend of incredible music (August 24-26), and the madcap adventures of the 2nd annual Hippielympics (September 14-15).

If you are into good music and camping don’t forget the upcoming Woodward Music Fest (September 20-23), too. Visit the websites for both shows www.sunshinedreams.com and www.soundeffect.org to get all the details you need to join the family. Hugs and smiles to all and I hope to see you in the hills!!

Nikolaos Seitz
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 7/24/01]

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