Walkabout: nomadic excursion into the bush made by native Woovillians
Rolliní On the River
Back in the 90ís when IBMA was still being held in Owensboro, Kentucky, the Wooville crew would always make a good showing. That was before we discovered indoor camping and would camp on the riverside at English Park. Those were the days! Always rained, and we were always tent camping, and the riverside always turned into a mud pit. This year, was no different. John Hartford was there and Wooville loved John Hartford! IBMA sponsored a boat cruise on the Executive Queen, a rather rickety yacht, owned by The Big E. and John Hartford was on-board along with others. We werenít gonna miss that one, so a bunch of us boarded at English Park for a 3 hours cruise. What a fun time! John was in good form, being on the river, he was in his element. At the end of the cruise, the Queen pulled into dock at English Park to let its patronís depart. Only one thing wrong, John Hartford was still playing and we werenít in any hurry to leave, and besides, Lee had passed out and we couldnít get him awake enough to get him off the boat. His girl friend at the time, Patty, left him to fend for himself and got off the boat and headed back to camp. Just then the engines of the Executive Queen powered up as the boat started to leave dock and head back to its slip at the Executive Inn, 2 miles up river. Woovillian Gil was wanting off and damn near jumped off the boat as it was pulling away from dock, but at the last minute, decide better of it. So weíre stuck, John Hartford was still playing, Lee was wide awake now and ready to party, and we are headed up river. When we docked at the Big E. and the lights came up, David surfaced from the upper deck and we werenít even aware that he was on-board. Now thereís 6 or more of us stuck up river, intoxicated and pretty ragged looking from a weekend of camping on the muddy Ohio River shore and we go trampling though the lobby of the Executive Inn looking totally out of place. Well, we decide to just start hoofing it back to camp, just a couple of miles through Owensboroís residential area. Luckily, David had a flask full of Eagle Rare to help us along our journey. As we travelled though the quiet residential area of Owensboro, passing around the Woo, and Iím sure being quite loud, a porch light or 2 comes on along the way. Just then, Gil starts to walk faster and faster and then a neighborhood dog starts walking with him, both at a quick pace. Look at Ďem go! Whatís Gilís hurry? Just then we spot a police cruiser coming around the corner and they seem to be looking for something, us I guess, so we decide itís best if we split up, they are probably look for a Bluegrass Gang!
So we finally arrive back to camp only to find several from the Wooville crew trying to push their car out of the mud, so they can come looking for their lost comrades. Here comes Gil exiting from the port-a-let, so I guess we know what his haste was all about. Now all is good in Wooville! I sure miss those days of IMBA in Owensboro as I know many of you do, though Iím not so sure I miss that muddy riverside camping all that much. It was the following year at IBMA, that Wooville decided to move their camping inside the BIG E. and now the BIG E. is history after being imploded a few years ago. All thatís left now is a wealth of good memories. NH
Getting Bent at Riverbend
It was an extremely hot August day, back in 2002. Wooville pulled into the parking lot at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, and the thermometer on the vehicle was reading 110 degrees, probably hotter than that out on the blacktop. We were there for a big jamgrass show, featuring David Grisman Quintet, Yonder Mountain String Band, Dark Star Orchestra, Peter Rowan and Tony Rice, Sam Bush and John Cowan Band. With a lineup like that, you knew it was going to be a memorable day. We were all to meet up down the road and co-ordinate the days plans. I had some car trouble along the way, so Carol and myself hooked up with Lee, Debbie, and Curly Lee, left my vehicle behind and we all loaded into Lee's minivan and off we went. If memory serves me right, I think Bob followed us in his vehicle and we all met up on the Riverbend parking lot. It was an hour or so before the show was scheduled to begin and we knew we couldn't take coolers inside the show, so we looked for some shade to kick back and knock back some suds and such before heading into the show. So off to the river bank we trudged with just a few beers in tow. Beer was 5 bucks each inside the show, so we stocking up like a bunch of camels, but we soon ran out of beer and our coolers were all the way back on the parking lot. Lee and Curly Lee decided to see if they could drive the van down to the riverside, but security said NO! As we sit waiting for the guys to return with the coolers, we had a perfect vantage point to watch the horse races next door at River Downs. As we watched the ponies run, we look up and here comes Lee on the outside rail in his minivan, needless to say all the woovillian's were cheering him on! I think Lee could have taken that race, had he not been a man on a mission.
And now for the rest of the story...
After spending some time chillin' on the riverside, we could hear the bands start to crank up inside the music center, so we knocked back a couple of more (did I tell you it was 110 degrees) and headed for the show. Once inside, Curly Lee and myself decide to grab one of those 5 dollar beers before going into the show and headed on back to the lawn area. Carol and myself had front row tickets, but decided we would rather hangout on the lawn with all our wooville buddies. So we spread out blankets on the lawn and kick back to the sweet sounds of the David Grisman Quintet. Curly says "let's get another cold one, I'm buying",and off we went. By this time, I was starting to get a little tipsy, to say the least. I grabbed the beer that Curly Lee has just bought and immediately dropped it on the ground. I decided I had probably had enough! Off we go back to the lawn. Not long after that, I start to get the spins and feel a need to head to the restroom and purge. By the time I reached the restroom, intoxicated and dehydrated for the heat,I start to feel really woo-zzy and look for a place to land. I make my way to the side of the restroom and lean against the wall until I fall to the ground. There I lay, in 110 degree heat,while a long line of patrons make their way past me. Every now and then, someone would asked,hey dude,you okay,which I always replied with a thumbs up! But not once did security check to see if I was okay. After about 30 minutes, I struggled to my feet and finally make it to the restroom and hugged around on the toilet for another 20 minutes or so. Starting to sober up a little, I start to make my way back to the lawn and run into Carol and Bob who had stated to worry and come searching for their lost wooville brethren. I finally made it back to the lawn and crashed out on a blanket, missed all of Dark Star Orchestra and barely remember the rest. When the show was over and the lights came up and because I had passed out for several hours, I was the only woovillian sober enough to drive us home. Ain't that just the wooville way! N.H.
Spontaneous Combustion Ignites In Wooville
Festival of The Bluegrass
Kansas City, Missouri's Spontaneous Combustion made their first visit east of the Mississippi River at the 2000 Festival of The Bluegrass and it was our good fortune to have them spontaneously combust in our Wooville camp. Before their early evening set on the mainstage, the group made their way to Wooville for a preview and to attract some more fans for their portion of the show. Most of the Wooville camp made their way to the stage area to lend some much deserved support to this band of newcomers to our part of the festival circuit. Unfortunately, I found myself engaged in other matters at the time and didn't know what all the hoopla was about. That all changed around 2 am Saturday morning when Spontaneous Combustion ignited in Wooville. It was a sight to behold! The sounds coming from our camp attracted all of our neighbors within earshot as well as all the Wooville camp as nearly 60 people gathered around to listen to this high-energy, totally polished band of bluegrass musicians. I don't know when I've ever seen such an entertaining group and to have them perform Live at Wooville is what bluegrass memories are made of. Spontaneous Combustion performed a complete set along with 2 encores, one of which was an a cappella number as fine as you'll hear ANYWHERE. The pines swelled with energy as the band played on. Fiddler, Marvin Gruenbaum was on fire as he brought all the wooville women to their feet. Man does that guy know how to work a crowd! After the music had ended, the guys hung-out awhile, chatted and shared in the Wooville spirits. Can I Get WOOOOOO!!!!!! Before departing camp the guys inquired as to who was in charge at this camp. HA! Well as a simple twist of fate, I found myself in the role of Wooville mayor, a title bestowed on the most unwilling (or is that unwitting) soul. So I was summoned to come meet with the band. As a token of their appreciation for our hospitality, I was presented a copy of Spontaneous Combustion's latest CD, Where There's Smoke and a fine project I might add. I was flabbergasted! All this fine pickin' and a free CD too! Once word gets out that the mayor gets free CD's, next years mayor's race could turn real ugly.
Spontaneous Combustion departed Wooville having garnered many new fans and made their way back across the mighty Mississippi and made it home safe and sound. How do I know this , you say? Well, when I finally made it back home, tired and weary from a week in the pines and started sorting through my over 600 email messages that had accumulated during my week long absence, I noticed an email that caught my eye. The email titled We Made It Home was from Spontaneous Combustion's guitar picker, Roger Eilts, who logged on to check out the Wooville page and to thank us for our hospitality in welcoming newcomers to our bluegrass world. To that I say,"No, Thank You for helping create bluegrass memories to last a lifetime". Anytime you find yourselves in our part of the world, our doors are always open.
Spontaneous Combustion fans,
The Folks From Wooville
You Woooo-in' ME?
Seldom have I seen or heard any trouble at a bluegrass festival, but there are the occasional close calls that present themselves from time to time. Such was the case at Poppy Mountain 99. It was the bewitching hours of Friday night, long after the music had ended for the evening, that found the wooville travelers at the camp of our Floyd County comrades, having just about as much fun as humanly possible. The spirits were flowing freely, in this case the sweet taste of Woodford Reserve, some of Kentucky's finest bourbon, and some fire water in a mason jar. Needless to say, most of us were high on Poppy Mountain. Sometime slightly before 4 A.M., I managed to pull my near dead carcass back to my camp on top of Poppy Mountain, while fellow woovillian Bob, remained in a near immobile state at Floyd County's camp for awhile longer. As Bob recounted the next day, it seems that shortly after I had made my less than graceful exit, he started towards his own camp, a beer crawl from Floyd County's camp, which is a slightly longer woo crawl. Along the way, Bob let out a few bellows in the way of some rather loud woooooo's, only to gain the attention of a stranger in a cowboy hat, who appeared from the shadows to inquire "You Wooo-in' ME?" Bob's reply:"Yea, I'm Wooo-in' you" and let out another Wooooo. It seems the stranger in the cowboy hat thought that Bob was in some way insulting him and proceeded to prepare for a scuffle. At this time Bob reached for the stranger's cowboy hat, tipped it up from his eyes and said "you're just not having a good time are you?". By this time the stranger was glowing red with anger, when Bob summoned the power of the woo, produced the Woodford and offered the stranger a drink. The stranger accepted and immediately turned green when the woo hit his pallet, gagged, and had trouble catching his breath. The altercation ended then and there and Bob went along his merry way. The next day, the stranger passed along an apology and remarked on the power of the woo. All was right with the world, at least at Poppy Mountain's little corner of it. NH
Mr. Woodo Goes To Floyd
Festival of The Bluegrass 99 after hours was a bit more subdued than past years, and we're still trying to figure out why. Saturday night found a small troop of woovillians' on walkabout and heading to Floyd County's camp. When we arrived, we were SHOCKED! No one was home! No massive campfire, no fire-jumpers. Nothing 'cept a couple of unattended campfires and some empty chairs. Well, we'll set a spell and see if anyone returns. Maybe Floyd County went on a walkabout too. We waited awhile and then decided to head back to Wooville, I mean there wasn't even a soul in Floyd County to offer you cold beer, and we were parched. On arriving back to camp we found that Wooville was one of the very few camps that was actualy alive with the sounds of music and laughter. Juanita (aka:Xena,Warrior Princess) and Devil John had left their Floyd County camp in search of life and found it in Wooville. Next time someone called out a walkabout, Juanita balked,"Why, Wooville's the only place that's happening!". I couldn't agree more. Although the woo consumption was down from previous years, we did seem to be the happening place to be. Lucy Fire Lady was keeping the campfire a blaze, and Bob was having an out of body experience, while the WOW (women of wooville) were no doubt, planning some evil plot that they could instill on some unsuspecting soul. The young'uns were running around like it was the beginning of a new day. Wait a minute, is that the sun rising over there in the east? All was well in Wooville. I would venture to guess that the lack of rain had thrown things just a little off kilter. I mean, when it's rainy and cold, more woo is consumed, campfires get bigger, and walkabouts tend to be more adventurous. I say next year we have a Y2K rain dance, sacrifice a virgin, and see if we can conjure up the spirit of John Duffey. Until then...NH
"That Other Music"
Laurie Lewis made her first visit to the Festival of the Bluegrass in 1998, and making that trip also was a lovely young lady named Lisa, who just happened to end up on the outskirts of Wooville. As she prepared to pitch a tent and set up camp, we noticed that she was about to set up in an area that had absolutely no drainage, and we'd already had some rain and was expecting more on this Friday evening. So being the good neighbors we are, we strolled over to introduce ourselves and offer a helping hand and some advice on where to pitch her tent. Seems Lisa is from San Francisco, and was here to run Laurie Lewis's record table. Hey, Cool! So we offered our help and advice and invited her into our camp. We are a rather cordial bunch, and it doesn't really matter if you're from San Francisco or not. Anyway, before Laurie finished her set on Friday evening, a major storm was headed in, which forced her to cut her set short, and sent all of us scurrying for shelter. Within a very short time, Lisa showed up at our Wooville camp, seeking selter and companionship. Well, she'd come to the right place, for as long as we could keep the wind and rain from destroying our canopies (which was no easy feat), we had shelter, food, drink, music, laughter...you know, all the things that make bluegrass festivals so much fun. Everyone was having way too much fun! Lisa even ventured out into the pouring rain to get her Polaroid, to take a few snapshots of all the crazies from Wooville.
Well the rain finally stopped sometime after 2AM, and most headed for their tents to lay down for the evening. Sheila, David and myself were just getting primed and decided to stoke up the campfire, and break-out the "woo bottle" once again. Seems there was some good blues being broadcast over the airwave of a local radio station and it just seemed to fit our state-of-mind. So here we were, "passing around that long-necked bottle", and bellowing out a rather loud "Woo!" when it reached our pallets, and really diggin' the blues, deep into the night.
The next morning found Lisa breaking camp and we went to ask her if she was leaving. It seemed that she was just relocating to the other side of the campground where it was a little quieter. Lisa said that last night, everytime she would doze off, she would be startled awake by a loud, Wooooo, and besides, someone was playing, "That Other Music". She didn't know what it was, but it wasn't bluegrass. Oh well, I guess we should have warned her, that Wooville was not a quiet area. Maybe for 1999, we'll think about posting a few signs. Not A Quiet Area, Tender-Hearted Beware! NH
"Those Crazy Kuk's"
The first time I saw Kukuruza was at IBMA FanFest 93 and then again at Merlefest the following spring and I had been singing their praises to my good friend, Tim. Well, Tim heard where The Kuk's were going to play a small club in Toledo, Ohio and decided to see for himself. Armed with a bottle of Eagle Rare and a transparent pie, he headed to Toledo to catch this Russian Bluegrass Band. Nothing crosses international boundaries quicker than good drink and rich pastry. Instant friendships were forged. Tim inquired about their touring schedule which at the time was light, and asked if they were planning on coming to Owensboro for IBMA FanFest. It seems they were not on the schedule, but they were wanting to be there anyway. Tim made them an offer to come and pick and party with the folks of Wooville and he would help cover their expences. As our luck would have it, they jumped at the opportunity. When "The Kuk's" arrived at Owensboro, they were also invited to take part in the international workshop at FanFest, along with Druha Trava and The Nakashami Family. Man was that cool!
That evening all of Kukuruza showed up at our campsite, introductions and the bottle were passed around, and the promise was made to return to our camp after the mainstage ended for the evening. As was common for Owensboro in September, the weather turned WET by evenings end, and we thought "The Kuk's" would have to back out on their promise. Not to fear, for directly behind us, on top of the hill, was an empty shelter house and an eager bunch of Russian bluegrass pickers. Kukuruza picked until the wee hours of the morning and even brought along some members of "Cheerful Diligence" who were traveling with Druha Trava, to join in on the fun. And Irena, man was she on that night! It was one of those nights that bluegrass memories are made of, and we sure got our share on that rainy September night in Owensboro, Kentucky....NH
"The Fire Jumpers"
"Phase 1, in which Doris gets her oats"...
Festival of the Bluegrass 97, it had rained most of the week and come Friday evening our band of campers were starting to get a little restless just sitting around the campsite. We had a break in the rain late that night, so several of us set out on our first walkabout of the week. Andy, John, myself, and several others, set out with our ultimate destination being the campsite of our comrades from Floyd County, on the other side of the campground. You see, these fine folks have the reputation of having the biggest and best campfire, and anyone with an ego big enough to take on the challenge of jumping over this fire, was greeted with open arms. It was one of those "hairy man" kinda things.
Well, Andy and myself were feeling pretty cocky and decided to spread our tail-feathers and soar over that rather large campfire. NO PROBLEM, success was ours, and after visiting for awhile and with testosterone running high, we headed back towards our Wooville camp.
Phase 2, in which Andy spills the beans..
We arrived back at camp in the bewitching hours of night to the sounds of music and laughter. Everyone was still going strong. So we strolled back into camp with tales to share from our walkabout. Well it seems that while I was busy grabbing a cool beverage and carving a slab of wild turkey from the smoker, Andy was busy sharing his story of how Nelson had went to Floyd County and done a bit of fire jumping, while omitting the part where, he himself, had partaken in this "hairy man" ritual. A few moments later as I joined the rest of the campers around the campfire, I was met with an irate tone from my wife, Linda, as to the foolishness of fire jumping at Floyd County, to which I replied "Well, Andy did it first"! Uh Oh! Wrong answer, for Andy's wife, Melody, had been led to believe that he wasn't involved in all this foolishness, and here he was spilling the beans on me. To add to Andy's woes, his two young sons were there to question Dad's honesty. Man, was he in the doghouse now! Oh well, Andy did get out in time for Festival of the Bluegrass 98, but we were both on our best behavior.
To add to the irony of it all, our comrade, Don, traveled to Floyd County's campsite late Saturday, only to be shuttled out on a golf cart with a broken leg from, you guessed it, "fire jumping", but that's another tale.......NH