We went out to the Austin String Band Festival on Saturday, sponsored by Austin Friends of Traditional Music. It started Friday night and I’m sure we missed many good performances. Saturday morning there were workshops — fiddle, dulcimer, harmonica, mandolin, and singing. I had intended to attend a few of them but we got a late start — first I woke up feeling kind of oogly, then we forgot the folding chair and had to go back for it, and then we stopped at Academy to get a second folding chair because for some reason when we bought the first one years ago we only got one. Then off to Camp Ben McCulloch in Driftwood!
It was a beautiful day — low 70s, dry, clear blue sky. And my kind of festival — not crowded at all. (I hear that at the recent ACLFest people were standing packed like sardines, despite the fact that it rained the whole weekend.)
I missed some of the workshops I would have liked to attend but did arrive in time to join the Sacred Harp (shape note) singing in progress. That was fun. (If you aren’t familiar with Sacred Harp, the music is written on the usual staff but the notes are different shapes to help those who don’t read music. You sing through it once on the names of the shapes, fa, sol, la, mi, then again with words. I don’t really know the shapes so I just mumble through that part.) I accidentally ended up sitting with the sopranos and would have moved once I spotted the alto section but the sopranos were seriously outnumbered so I stayed where I was and “helped” them. They probably wish I would have moved.
We had lunch and then the performances started. There were 45-minute sets under a shelter (equipped with hard benches — we were glad of the folding chairs) with 15-minute sets outside by lesser-known bands to fill in the gaps. We only stayed until about 5 but there was a tremendous variety of music — Cajun, Mexican, Celtic, all sorts of takes on traditional, bluegrass, and old-timey music, and one band which categorizes itself as “alt-folk-progressive”.
It was a lot of fun and completely different (I don’t get out much). Usually on Saturdays I go to a yoga class then rush back and fill orders before the post office closes and then it’s three o’clock and I’m kind of going, wow, where did the day go? This was a wonderful change.