Fes-TAA-Vul! – Albino Skunk
I know we have that “newbie look”. Our eyes have to be glazed over a bit as we walk across the farm. We bump into each other like school kids and I grab her hand tugging her forward. A smiling bearded face wearing tie dye comes into view and before I can muster up the greeting I’ll pass along (Howdy, Beautiful day, Hello) he raises both arms and yells “FES-TAA-VUL!!! ” “Well, that was different”, I think to myself. We both laugh a little as he passes by and then in unison we echo back a weak “Festival.” I guess it makes sense. We are at a Music Festival after all and perhaps that is “Hello” in festival talk or possibly we missed the first part of his sentence… like, “Hey Yall… Welcome to the Albino Skunk Music FESTIVAL“. We walk around getting our bearings and lay of the land as the food trucks, people carrying guitars and artisans are all setting up around the funky stage tucked away under the trees.
In addition to listening and being a part of the music that will be echoing across this South Carolina farm, we’re also going to be the smiling grins selling tickets, parking cars and welcoming music lovers from all over during this three day festival. Wait I mean FES-TAA-VUL! We went through our orientation and got our cool Albino Skunk staff shirts and it wasn’t long until we were raising our arms and welcoming new comers with….. well you know it by know. “FES-TAA-VUL!!!!!!”
We just love these small music jubilees, especially the ones that have onsite camping. If feels similar to the brotherhood and family we have between fellow full time RV travelers. The common connection of course is the love for live music and in this case, great roots/americana/folk music, but it’s also the fact that we are all camping under the stars together. Some of us are in tents, some just hanging between trees in hammocks. There are vintage air-streams, big class A rigs and campers of every size and color all spread across Zig’s farm.
We first learned of this music festival last spring at Jammin’ At Hippie Jacks (Click here for a fun story and my debut on their stage), which is a Tennessee version of the same music awesomeness. That weekend we seemed to always cross paths with this fun couple who “crazy dance” like we do. I mean hands up in the air, jumping around, limbs and hips going in every direction, looking like we were on the verge of a seizure, ear to ear smiles, kinda of two stepping, but not really. One day we saw them with a shirt on that said “Got Skunk?” and of course I had to comment and that led them to sharing a secret that I swore I wouldn’t tell. They let us in on their favorite South Carolina music event. I’m such a bad friend…. here I am spilling the goody. It’s fun just saying it. Albino Skunk Festival! Almost as fun as saying FES-TAA-VUL! We forgot to exchange contact information that year and when we made plans to come and be a part of Skunk this spring we hoped our dancin’ buddies would be there too. Of course they were. Within the first hour of our arrival we were embraced with their hugs. Almost everyone that we talked to said that they have been coming to Albino Skunk for years. I think we may have been the only newbies there.
Glynn Zeigler (Zig) has been sharing his farm and putting on this musical jamboree for over fifteen years. It is small in nature, truly family friendly and one of the things that makes it so stellar is that Zig has a real knack for finding up and coming talent on the verge of going main stream. It is his passion. Many of the artists who have played Skunk over the past years have gone on to earn critical acclaim. This spring weekend we jammed to Dave Desmelik, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, The Deer, Dead Winter Carpenters, D.B. Reilly, SUSTO, The Meadows Brothers, David Childers, The Jacob Jolliff Band, The Goodbye Girls, Front Country, The War and Treaty, Dori Freeman, Fireside Collective, Aaron Lee Tasjan and BeauSoleil. When the lights on the stage went out around midnight, fires around the farm began to glow and the second round of music filled the air. We typically rise and fall with the sun but that just isn’t possible during festival. We did good though, the two of us, my drum, the 1966 Gibson and Sharon’s rice shaker found our way back to the camper at least by 3:00 each morning.
One of the things I love about music is that it truly is the international language between us all. Forget the words. Don’t even focus on the vowels. Let everything go and feel the rhythm as it fills you. As listeners (and crazy dancers) it is better than that first bite of cotton candy at the fair or that third sip of a good bourbon around a campfire. It is medicine. It is Indian fire water. It is a heart beat that we can all feel and there is absolutely nothing like the warmth of looking around and seeing everyone around you bobbing their heads, stomping their feet, swaying their shoulders, expressing and communicating to teach others through song. I am so thankful that a guitar landed in my lap when I turned 13. I feel so lucky that I can still pick her up and be a part of the music, part of the language, part of the wonderful thing that makes people tap their toes.
We loved being the greeters and first smiles at the festival. Zig lined up the music and artists so that even if we were working and had to miss an act one day, he had them back at a different time the following day. The crowds grew as the evenings progressed and all sorts of unique and wonderful things filled the woods. In between songs you would hear the battle cry of “FES-TAA-VUL”. The dancing stages on both sides of the main stage would fill within seconds and yep there was the four of us once again – hands up, jumping, shaking, clapping, having musical seizures and feeling so thankful to be a part of the great music that echoed across Zig’s farm.
So that was the official end to our story about Albino Skunk FESTIVAL (just had to type festival at least one more time – crap just typed it again. (Really that was how everyone says hello there and I love it.)…. but actually it is not the end. The new friendships that we made during those four days all came so easily. When you live in a neighborhood where music fills the air, everyone cooks and eats outside, hugs are preferred over hand shakes, no one has a problem waking up and walking through “town” in your bed clothes, isn’t judged but rather encouraged to raise a crazy flag and dance your heart out, and to bring anything from a fiddle to a spoon and make music…. well these folks are easy to become kindred brothers and sisters with. One of our new family told us about Merlefest, another Americana/Roots music fest in North Carolina which happens to come to life a few weeks after Albino Skunk. We were a bit sad after we got all excited and then learned that it was all sold out. We called and begged. Asked to be put to work. But sadly everything was full and we put it on the back burner as a thought for next year….. until 9:00 PM the night before it began that is.. A shooting star fell into our lap. Someone canceled. I think we’ll keep this FEST-I-LOVE-MUSIC thing going just a little longer.
(somehow our mugs found their way into the official Merlefest recap video. For a good giggle check out minute (2:18 & 5:48)