Hello, hello, hello, is there anybody there (June 22, 2002)

The way I’m enjoying Austin in the summer is by staying inside, with plenty of a/c…I do come out in the evenings, though. Last Thursday the Girlfriend and I caught the Flatlanders (Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, together again after a 30-year break), who were fun and likeable and one of those bands it’s impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to (like the Ramones and Brave Combo – is anyone else here a Brave Combo fan? Talk about your genre-busting cowboys).

But I’m happy to say that I did get a chance to catch Carrie live in concert recently, at the Kerrville folk festival in the Texas hill country last month. (She was as good as I’d expected, and I’m not surprised that she has quite the sense of humor onstage.) It was my first time experiencing Kerrville, which has been going on since 1972 (LBJ reportedly attended the first festival, less than a year before his death). Kerrville, which lasts 18 days, has a much different feel than your garden-variety American music festival, even the purportedly `alternative’ ones. For one thing, although Kerrville had sponsors, it didn’t feel like the sponsors owned the event. The festival takes place on a farm, and many of the attendees set up camp in anything from cheek-by-jowl pup tents to full-blown RVs; it looks like a mess, but it works, and everyone seems to get along. The attendees span the generations from older folkies and Texas hippies, to generations X and Y, but what really unites them is a love of songs and songwriting; at times it seemed that half of the people there had brought guitars and were engaged day and night in songwriting circles and singalongs in small groups, all in addition to the scheduled performances. It’s as close to the spirit of Woodstock (a more mature, spiritually attuned Woodstock, that is) that you’re likely to find in America in the 21st century, I’d say. The performers certainly seemed to think they were in singer-songwriter paradise. I was only there for a day, but these were the things I learned (or had reaffirmed) in Kerrville:

Life is a journey towards becoming more forgiving, more tolerant of eccentricity, not least because everyone (as we learn) is eccentric in their own way. (Or should be.)

My peers are, by and large, very cool and get ever-cooler the older they get. (Who would have thought, at 25.)

It is learning how to love and care for others, and being truly unselfish, that, above all, opens the door to being truly human.

And never think that it doesn’t matter anymore.
Because it always does.



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