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Arts & Culture
Thu August 2, 2012
A Far-Flung Festival
Last weekend I went to the Ossipee Valley Music Festival in my hometown of Hiram, Maine. The festival takes place at the local fairground, with the music stages set up in the midst of 4-H barns.
Ossipee started out very small as a bluegrass festival, basically an excuse for handful of friends to do some pickin'. But every year it grew. Bigger bands started showing up, Grammy nominated bands, and they weren't just playing bluegrass. The festival turned into a melting pot of Americana music--rockabilly, honky tonk, acoustic, gospel, and western swing. And with the bigger bands came bigger crowds, turning our small rural town into somewhat of a music hub for this one weekend in the middle of the summer.
My favorite part of the festival is the Saturday night Barn dance. It usually starts around 11pm and goes well into the night. It takes place in a small barn that is usually used for showing cows at the fair. The floor is coated with sawdust, the ceiling covered with Christmas lights. It gets rowdy. There's a lot of whooping, clapping, stomping, and swinging. A lot of people go just to watch the spectacle...dancers who've had a little too much to drink can be pretty entertaining.
This year, the barn dance band was Brooklyn-based The DEFiBULATORS, whose sound has been described as "Carter Family meets The Ramones." They played until 1 AM, when dance goers poured out of the barn to their campsites. Music jams started up around fires and people played until the sky started to lighten. (Listen to my audio postcard from the barn dance here.)
Ossipee doesn't have the feel of a Bonaroo or Coachella, where it might be more important to look cool and act a little bored. Ossipee is just about the music. A community of extremely talented musicians playing on stages...and playing around the campfires.