The Convergence with a Conscious- Jammin’ at Hippie Jacks
Suddenly the silence we are driving in explodes into “ding ding ding”, “bleep bloop” and sounds I can’t even figure out how to type. What the heck is that crazy noise? There it goes again. It sounds like we suddenly got dropped into a casino. Random obnoxious tones are coming from the backseat and now there is something vibrating on the dashboard and about to fall on to the floor. I let go of the wheel to reach out to catch it and then I remember what this assault on my ears is all about. It’s our dang cell phones. I had forgotten about you. I guess this really means our five amazing days out in the boonies, listening to music, dancing under the stars, making new friends, and playing songs around camp fires in the hills of Tennessee is officially over. Welcome back to being connected. For some reason I felt more in tune and aligned to what was real during our time on Jack’s farm, then I do now with 100 emails to return, countless texts, 5 voice messages and endless facebook posts that need my thumbs up.
The drive into Jack’s farm five days ago was an adventure of its own. If I had not been there a few times before tugging our little 19ft camper, I think I would have probably pooped my pants as our now 35′ fifth wheel rolled off the marginal black top onto the one lane gravel road. “Lord please don’t let anyone come in the other direction.” And I’m sure my navigator by now has closed her eyes and started talking in tongues as the bluff on her side of the road nearly kisses the awnings and the steep bank on my side gives way to nothing but a creek twenty feet below. “Will this road ever end?” Ahhhh there’s the sign. Welcome to Hippie Jacks!!
Jack, his beautiful wife and their family have been sharing their farm for many years as a sanctuary to celebrate Americana music. Each Memorial day weekend the gathering begins. Love of roots music is the force that pulls us all from our caves and down that one lane gravel road, but as we all slowly arrive and tents pop up, campfires ignite, RV’s roll in and the nesting begins, I get a familiar sense that this convergence of music lovers is about so much more.
No this is nothing like a Bonoroo, Lollapalooza or a Burning Man music festival. Instead of millions of people, there are hundreds. It’s family friendly, actually it’s all about family. We are all scattered around Jack’s farm in our tents and campers. Some down by the creek, some out in one of his pastures and we’re up on the hill looking down over their beautiful farm and orchards into the valley. The first evening we all meet under the big tent for the most diverse and delicious potluck dinner you have ever tasted. It was here that I felt the pull of family once again as friends found one anther and embrace in hugs. This is our forth time here and we kept looking around for a familiar smile of someone we had met in years past. It wasn’t long and Sharon was wrapped in the arms of one of our Hippie Jack family.
The music cranked up as the stars came out and what a way to start it off. Cody Brooks and his band brought us to our feet. Here’s how someone else described his music ” Gutbucket blues. Gypsy jazz. Back porch rock & roll. Cody Brooks plays it all, whipping up a raw, rootsy racket with help from a 1929 B&J Victoria parlor guitar and a voice that’s as wild and roughhewn as the Tennessee backwoods.” He started with just himself, an old sports jacket, brimmed hat and his vintage guitar. I felt his humble spirit in his songs and with the stories he shared between them. My leg started bouncing to the rhythm of his slide guitar and then he pulls his brother out on stage who jams on his cello with a bow. Unusual, unbelievably awesome, untamed in every aspect. In an instant I knew we were being privileged to witness something amazing. He later adds a harmonica, bass and drummer to the show and the energy on the stage erupts. We lean over to comment to the couple beside us, who also had large ear to ear grins, about how amazing Cody was, and find out they were his parents. How cool. By the end of his show, his coat was long gone, his shirt was dripping with sweat, his hat had fallen to the ground and you had no doubt he had put his whole heart and everything inside him to share with us the music in his soul.
How great it was to wake up each morning and look out across Jack’s farm and hear the sounds of guitars and people singing in every direction. No cell service here. No internet. No TV channels. No one walking past you looking down as they text something to someone else. How wonderful it felt to be in a community where eye contact and starting up a conversation with a stranger was the normal thing to do. Beautiful music rang through the valley from the large tent and smaller stage into the night each evening. After the final performance small fires would pop up at camps around the farm and the music would continue until the morning sun awoke the roosters at the barn.
It’s been a gift to be a part and watch this family of music lovers, musicians, and kindred souls come together and grow with each other year after year. As Jack puts it, “It’s a Music Festival With A Conscious”. It’s so much more than just great music, it’s about being good people. It’s helping each other. It’s giving back. It’s watching Jack’s children and grand children grow older and continue to help him on stage. Its taking a plunge in the creek. It’s being at an evening campfire and seeing a boy play lead on a mandolin for his first time. It’s noticing the fireflies dance across the pasture as we stroll back to our camper. It’s the stacks and stacks and stacks of canned goods, food and clothing that also found its way to this convergence so our Hippie Jack family could help someone else’s.
“ding ding ding” “bleep bloop”. Okay Okay!!! I’ll get to you cell phone….. but please let me take one last deep breath and soak in this country side as our camper rolls on. I still feel music dripping from my pores and reluctantly press the button to listen to the first message. I inhale from my open window and smirk just a little knowing that a slice of my smile is still dancing with the fireflies on Jack’s farm.
Stick around y’all. Our little buggy rolls out of Tennessee into the Arkansas hills and we discover the hot, bubbling source of life.