Last week I went to The Clearwater Festival, also known as the Great Hudson River Revival. It’s the biggest folk festival in the New York area and one of the oldest in the country, and I’ve been going for 20 years. But sadly, last weekend reminded me that I’m not a kid anymore, and I can’t have fun the way that I used to.
Camping out is not required for the festival, but there are campgrounds that me, my friends, and several dozen people use. Traditionally every night has a “hoot” (a big singalong and jam where we sing folk and old classic rock songs) that goes on way too late. Of course I joined, and I was up singing and stomping and drinking (a LOT of drinking) until 2:30 in the morning Friday night.
I woke up shivering at 6 the next day, which is amazing in itself. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that for the past year, my brain has decided that 4-4:30 was an appropriate wake-up time. My head was pounding like I was in a drum circle all night (which I kinda was…there were drums along with the guitars, flute, washboard (!), saw (!!!) hand clappers, and singers). I looked in my cooler and realized that in about 4 hours of singing, I drank 10 beers. You have to keep your throat wet for a proper song circle. There is magic in a song and alcohol is one of the spell ingredients. 20, 10, even 5 years ago, I would’ve have flinched, but I am 41 now. I was dehydrated. I was headachy, and I could barely drag my ass out of the tent.
I still had a great time on Saturday and got to see all the bands that I wanted to see (Ani DiFranco, They Might Be Giants, The Mammals, Willie Nile leading a tribute to Dylan and Springsteen, the Neilds), but on Sunday morning I felt awful. I didn’t get much sleep, it was going to be 90 degrees (it had been almost 90 the day before, and I hate the heat), and I knew that if I stayed I would be miserable to the miserablist power. So I struck camp, and I drove home.
It was the first time I had ever left Clearwater early, and you know, I’m okay with it. I made the adult decision. A younger me would’ve toughed it out for the sake of toughing it out, but I weighed the options and made what I feel was the right choice. Sure I missed Jeff Tweedy (front man for Wilco) but hopefully I’ll see him else where. Sure I missed The Mavericks, but I’ve seen them 3 times. I accepted that I’m older now. I can’t forced myself to party just to party.
Also, I should learn to pace myself with the beer. I had no idea that I drank that much. They just disappeared down my throat.
Totally worth it.