Day 2: Blue Ox Music Festival

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A note on hospitality –

Your favorite band works hard. Like really, really hard. Long hours behind the wheel, sleepless nights, restless mornings, hangovers and morning sickness are all part of the job, not to mention the actual act of performing which should take up a considerable amount of your favorite band’s time. After all, your favorite artists aren’t some garage band or local legend or casual jam circle: they are part of a well-oiled music machine that has spent countless hours writing and rehearsing, perfecting and recording their art and then traveling to you to show you what they’ve created.  The grind is real for a touring band, and that’s why artist hospitality at festivals is so important.

Blue Ox Music Festival 2019 deserves accolades for the hospitality it provides for its artists. Festival host Pert Near Sandstone have been on the road slog long enough to understand the value of a hot meal, cold beverage and backstage hang area fully stocked with water, beer, coffee, tea, snack-sized potato chip backs and did I mention beer? Good beer too, from festival co-sponsor Bell’s Brewery, which is one of my favorite breweries in the land but doesn’t distribute to my home state of Colorado, I think because of some interstate alcohol regulations. Artist hospitality even included a pair of masseuse beauties providing relief from the aches and pains that result from hours and hours in the seat of a van or bus (thanks again for the relief, Lily!). As an artist at Blue Ox, I had everything my heart desired, everything I expected and much more.

The food was catered by a great crew of local chefs who provided a salad bar daily, a relief for traveling bands that have been surviving for too long on bar food (somehow, bars seem to find ways to make natural and staple foods utterly unhealthy: see onion rings). The staffed buffet line always included meaty, vegetarian and vegan options for the variety of talent that get hired on at festivals like these. Blue Ox artist food deserves an A-, but the minus is only because they didn’t have a soft-serve ice cream machine: if you don’t have a sweet tooth like me it’s a solid A.

It’s amazing to be part of a festival that shows artists this much love. After years of living the tour life with Oakhurst in a 40’ long tour bus and surviving on peanut-butter-and-jelly, chicken wings and beer it was refreshing to see a festival be so thoughtful and considerate of their artists. Just another reason why Blue Ox is shaping up to be my favorite festival of 2019.

Day 1: Blue Ox Music Festival

Whelp, I made it to the Blue Ox Music Festival! The flight from Portland (where the van is) was long but pretty uneventful and I went with my tried-and-trued method of staying up as late as possible the night before, taking a quick nap and then going right back to sleep on the plane. Nothing makes a 2.5 hour, 2000 mile time travel happen like sleeping through the flight! I don’t need any soda or weak airline coffee anyways, thank you very much.

An old friend picked me up from the airport as I was trying to get to the festival the same day as him. J. Lenz has been playing with Pert Near Sandstone forever, and since they are hosts of the Blue Ox Festival it really felt like VIP treatment to get picked up by J. at the Minneapolis airport and get to ride out to the festival grounds with him.

The festival grounds are amazing! This beautiful piece of land is the site of a big Country Jam pop-country music festival that happens every year and you can tell the landlords are familiar with large events. There are plenty of bathrooms, plenty of shady spots to park and all the infrastructure you could hope for to pull off a successful festival.

Pert Near is running through a few sound check tunes as I type this as the festival hasn’t officially started yet. I’m super excited to be here and to see some old friends like the guys in Pert Near, make some new friends and get to play a little music on the side.

If you’re at the festival, don’t forget that I’ll be hosting a mandolin workshop on Saturday morning. More details to follow but it will be at the campground stage here at Blue Ox. Excited to get my festival on!