photo by Mary
I guess I've been working nature festivals for about 18 years now--as long as I've been with Bill of the Birds.
My first was the Bosque del Apache Festival of the Cranes in 1991. Yikes, that was a long time ago. It's a niche, made more fun and interesting by the inclusion of music. Bill has added that dimension to my life. Without him, I'd probably be singing krokey or trying out for Elderly Idol. Since he was in high school, Bill has always headed up a band, because he's a natural bandleader.
Just like he's a natural field trip leader, even with half his pants off.
Generally, Bill and I play a duo,
adding in musicians like master fiddler/violinist Jessie Munson or singer/guitarist Ernie Hoffert whenever we can. For most bird festivals, folky acoustic stuff works. This time, we tried something different. Fayetteville is only about 2 1/2 hours from The Swinging Orangutang's home base of Marietta, Ohio. We promised the boys in the band a great time (Jessica had another commitment, waah!) and they agreed to come down on Saturday afternoon for a real blowout that night. Bill and I have done a lot of festivals, but we've never seen a rock band and a private club atmosphere at a bird festival before. We wanted something completely different to honor the festival attendees, including the fun-loving Flock of bloggers.
The Meadow House at Opossum Creek Resort
was transformed into a speakeasy.
Five-sixths of The Swinging Orangutangs: from left, Bill Thompson III, Clay Paschal, Andy Hall, JZ, and Vincenzo Mele. We're all missing Jessica Baldwin.
I admit to a touch of apprehension as we worked on the set list. Would birders cover their ears and flee if we really blew it out? OK, let's strike Brick House from the set list. Probably won't do Don't Fear the Reaper, either. Hmm. But there was plenty of material just this side of coo-coo that we thought birders would like. In the end, we wound up throwing in Blister in the Sun and Take Me to the River and Get Down Tonight, along with a couple of hours' worth of mixy favorites. Still wish we'd done Burning Down the House. Oh well. Next year.
As it turned out, it got coo-coo anyway. Bloggers know how to boogie. These people were up for a great time, having birded their brains out for an entire week.
You can tell Susan's
a blogger 'cuz she's got a beer in one hand...a camera in the other. I shudder to think what photos she captured that night. You'll have to go to Susan Gets Native
and see. I believe that's Kathie of Sycamore Canyon
in lavender. Laura from Somewhere in New Jersey
and Lynne from Hasty Brook
were partying, too. Nina from Nature Remains
and Kathi from KatDoc's World
and Beth from My Life With Birds
and Kathleen from A Glorious Life
and Barb from My Bird Tales
and Jane from Jaylynn's Window on Nature
... Kathy (Denapple) from Life, Birding, Photos and Everything.
..really entrancing photography in those last three, and all of them wonderful people.. it just went on and on. Just keeping the Kath-people straight was a job in itself.
By my count, there were no less than 17 nature bloggers in attendance and snapping away at New River 2009. This will be the best-documented festival that has ever happened.
Huh-oh. We did Love Shack and it got even crazier, with guide and Orang alum drummer Steve McCarthy taking the male vocal lead. I'm doin' the Belinda Carlisle, serving it up oldschool with a shared mic. Mary's View
gettin' DOWN with Jane of Wrennaissance Reflections.
What a total thrill it was to meet them! And then to play for them all, really show them a good time.
Maybe that's an understatement. If the Solid Gold Bloggers had half as much fun as the Orangs did, it was a fabulous time.
News flash: The Bump did not die in 1978. It is alive and well with Tim (From the Faraway, Nearby
) and Mary (Mary's View)
. Oh my goodness.
When he wasn't hangin' with his buddy Cameron,
Liam was doin' the Schroeder on the dance floor. Our son has some truly fancy footwork.
The uproarious highlight of the evening was when Tim Ryan
joined us to play cowbell on Low Rider. I doubt there was a person in the room who wasn't on their feet by then. Our beloved honorary Orangutang.
This group of bloggers is so generous--everyone showed up with arms overflowing with handmade gifts--pins and pottery and jewelry and bacon-flavored jellybeans and other Minnesota favorites from sweet Lynne at Hasty Brook
--there was even a care package of handmade Peruvian crafts from Mel at Teach Me About Birdwatching,
sent from South America, just because.
I didn't bring anything you could hold in your hand, but singing for our beloved friends felt just right.
Vincenzo Serafino charmed with his velvet voice and nimble guitar.Jeff Gordon
, fabulous trip leader and nature blogger, heated up the place with a dangerous rendition of Secret Agent Man. Too bad nature blogger and walking encyclopedia Jim McCormac
wasn't there to see it, but after leading field trips in the first part of the week, he was getting the Ludlow Griscom award from the American Birding Association in Texas!
Many thanks to the incomparable Jen Sauter for grabbing my camera and documenting the night so splendidly. For she's a jolly good bombshell!
Many thanks to the people who know how to laugh and dance and live life large. You know who you are! Many thanks to Bill, for making it all happen, to Geoff Heeter and Keith Richardson of Opossum Creek, and to the Swinging Orangutangs for giving themselves to make Saturday, May 2, 2009 a night to remember, a delightful anomaly in the heretofore rather sedate world of nature festival entertainment.
And if it weren't enough...what about tomorrow?art by Andy Hall, who is also our drummer, how lovely!
Labels: New River Birding Festival, Opossum Creek, Swinging Orangutangs, The Flock