Friday, September 15, 2017

Cabinfest 2017

There's so much I wanted to say about Cabinfest. About the people and their history, how we came together, how we stay together. This special thing we managed to build. The beautiful souls drawn in by the noise and lights, those that drift away but always have a place in the cabin. So I don't write a novel I'm going to focus on this year. What happened, my experience of it, and some feelings I have about it all.

A bunch of us brought our kids this year. DSAN brought his youngest to an early CF so there is some precedent but this year there was at times 6-7 toddlers going about various toddler business. Hunter, Clark, William, Maya and Zoey all stayed together in the Farmhouse with their parents. Steph brought Ophelia and Caliope on Friday afternoon. Jess and Jason brought Jacob on Saturday afternoon. I think it went better than anyone could've imagined. We all helped each other out and worked together. It's excellent that all the kids knew at least another 1 or 2 kids in the group. There was always a familiar face. They read together, ate together, fought for toys, shared toys, splashed in puddles and rocked out to live music. It expanded exponentially for me what Cabinfest could mean. It's always been an event centered around friends and family but to add this wrinkle....all of our kids together, what we do together went from special to significant. Could we, for a weekend a year at least, give our kids a tribal childhood? Something outside the standard format. Something perhaps richer?

Everyone else was so amazing too. Yes we all like to get together and get loose for the weekend. Something morphed through the years though and it suddenly isn't the high priority. The music, the friendship (new ones and old), hell the food even, is truly the focus.  All set against the spectacular Dipikill Resort back drop. Its such a special place to have fostered our community. Each cabin has its own unique charm and flavor. To have White Pine with its warm crackling fire, gorgeous stage and Stained-glass window as our church, our gathering house is something I feel truly fortunate for. The Farmhouse was the perfect base of operations for our families and the walls rang with their voices and rapid fire stomp of their toddler trot. Our host Heidi really went the extra mile to make the families feel at home and taken care of. Since the beginning of our time at Dipi, we've always felt like welcome guests despite the all night light show, the blaring rock and dance music.

At first, the kids waded cautiously into the music. It was fascinating to see them react to Wounded Buffalo Theory's first set on Friday. It is psychologically heavy music. Emotional. It's breath-taking and lovely as well, but their sound, material, and performance encompasses the light and darkness. It paint the complete picture of humanity. Of the universe and of our part in it. So it isn't always easy or comfortable. It's always worth it though. Hunter or Clark would be drawn to the stage, to the lights. They'd feel and see then get a bit overwhelmed and go outside to play. We let them come and go, supported them when they needed and observed and felt the music with them.

We all bounced back and forth between the music and our cabin. Kids or parents needing a break or a bite. Jeanette made a tasty ziti for our cabin's dinner and we devoured a tray of the course of the night.  The Wounded Buffalo 'spin the wheel' set segued into a jam band focused set that Rich Lemire and I put together with them. It was great fun to follow through on a project I assumed would stay as one of those fun ideas you have when you're hanging out with your buddies. We sent a handful of emails. A chunk of the band got together at Up Da Hill to rehearse and the remaining got to run some of the material when Rob got on the east coast. The performance is  a true testament to the great skill and professionalism of Rich and the Wounded Buffalo folks, and the chemistry that dear friends can share playing music together. I had an absolute blast playing despite my ever-constant nerves before and at the beginning of something like this. We played Grateful Dead, Phish, Pink Floyd, the Disco Biscuits and the Band. Here's the Setlist:

Tweezer>Scarlet Begonias>I Know You Rider>Space>Drums>Helicopters>Run Like Hell>Tweezer Reprise
E: The Weight

 Kieran and Jay spun terrific sets while we danced and talked the night away. I stayed up. Way too late. Jeanette was kind enough to let me flop around in bed until 9. Lauren made some breakfast casseroles which were absolutely restorative. When I had some juice in my system and coffee brewing, I took Hunter in his pack for a hike down to the lake. It was an absolutely stunning, bright and quiet morning. I walked silently and mindfully and we took it in together. The morning slid into afternoon with the shouts of children playing and the young at heart playing just as hard.

The BBQ has typically been hosted at Collins by Mike, Crystal and associates. This year there was a special surprise: Tim brought his smoker trailer up from Long Island and we gorged on his amazing BBQ at White Pine. There was chicken, sausage, brisket, pork shoulder, ribs and bacon. Each bit more delicious than the last. Acoustic music went on as in previous years and there was still a stellar potluck on top of all the meat.

The kids were very comfortable with the situation and much more interested in the music on Saturday. They watched almost every note of Wounded Buffalo and all the acoustic acts. Hunter gave Numbers an especially hearty round of applause. It made my heart very full to see him appreciating music. Its the thing in the world that's given me the most, enriched my life the most. If I can share with him music and nature, I feel like I've at least set a solid baseline for his adventure as a human. The day spun on and the kids got a little punchy later in the evening. Talk about play! Talk about stimulation! Maya's dad John read to them all and I definitely noticed it help wind Hunter down a bit. Diddy had his signature pulled pork going all day and despite the meat-fest earlier, I succumbed. like everyone else to the irresistible smells and tastes.  Bed time was a bit harder on Saturday but they all did eventually settle down. Heidi did us an amazing favor and let all the parents have two hours together at the music, staying at the Farmhouse with a walkie talkie in case anyone woke up.

 The music was phenomenal all night with the numerous configurations of the superjam showcasing the talent and passion of many of the weekend's musicians, friends and family. Michael's yacht rock set was a fan favorite made specially poignant with the passing of Steely Dan's Walter Becker. The night was anchored by an absolutely stellar set from Wounded Buffalo. It was the set of the weekend for me without a doubt. Nanobot and Basso wrapped up the night with terrific DJ sets.

I stayed up too late. Again. I couldn't help it. The music, the conversations, it was all so inspiring. I tested my partner's good will and again slept till 9. I love you so much monkey! Endless thanks for this. John and Shannon whipped up a big breakfast and we got to packing up our home for the weekend. The realization that this was an especially lovely time unfolded slowly over the course of the weekend to everyone and became full apparent as we returned to the real world . I watched new friendships blossom, age old alliances solidified and a whole new generation of cabinfesters discover the magic. This event is a good example of what a tribe of like minded folks can create when ego is removed from the equation. Doing things to make a great experience for all rather than to glorify yourself. So many special moments occurred I struggle to list them: we had our first Harley, some overly affectionate chipmunks, A PROPOSAL (Congrats Kieran and Kelli!! Though I'm a little disappointed the tassels weren't brandished), our first kids cabin and beginning to end phenomenal music. Minus one song Big Cabinfest wants to pretend doesn't exist.

Thank you all so much. To quote one of the truest pieces of poetry of our time: 
"I had the time of my life, and I owe it all to you!"


  1. Great post. Cabinfest is such a time. It encompasses so much... big shared events, private passing moments, weirdness, silliness, fun, reunions, beginnings, sharing, oversharing, yawps, whispers, spinning, sitting quietly, a revolution, a rotation, the changing of the seasons, all in a late summer's weekend. #HASHTAG

  2. whole weekend felt like one long show, for the first time. every set by everyone connected with the others, from acoustic to DJs and everything in between.

    1. I was just thinking this yesterday! Perfect flow