This must be the place: Racin’ with the wind, and the feelin’ that I’m under
My eyes shot open when the air-conditioning unit kicked on. It took me a couple of moments to realize where I was. Our room was dark and silent. The queen-sized bed, sheets and pillows were extremely comfortable, and damn well better be if you’re paying a pretty penny to stay at the Wyndham Garden in Greensboro.
Sunday morning and a little over three hours away from the humble abode in Waynesville. The hotel room temperature was a cool 65 degrees, but it was already over 80 outside on the hot pavement in the depths of the Piedmont.
It was 9:50 a.m., with breakfast served until 10. Hop out of bed, throw on your shorts, socks and shoes. Throw some water on your face and stumble on down the hallway, down the elevator to the Terrace Room for watered down coffee, lukewarm eggs, sausage, homefries, and orange juice made from concentrate.
No matter, as the foggy memories of Saturday were rehashed with one of my best friends seated across the breakfast table from me. Voices groggy from a wild night in the Piedmont. Laughter echoing through the Terrace Room. What was that person from last night’s deal? Did you see what I saw? Did that really happen?
Saturday morning in Waynesville. Pack up the truck with camping gear. Stock the cooler with cheap beer and Gatorade. Wait on my buddy to show up and hit the road for the inaugural Power & Sound Revival just south of Greensboro.
Located at the Piedmont Dragway in Julian, the music festival featured an array of folks and organizations one would deem the “counterculture:” wild-n-out motorcycle groups, custom classic van collectives, renegade factions from all walks of life and locations, all while sprinkling in a hatchet throwing booth and mobile tattoo parlor, all amid some of the finest outlaw rock and alt-country acts in the Southeast. My kind of place, truth be told. My kind of people, too.
The organizers of the revival are good friends of mine from within the North Carolina music scene, to which I was asked to be the stage emcee, to rile up the crowd and embrace what it means to be in the presence of the sacred realm that is live music, of being “in the now” in a moment of bliss shared together.
Rolling up to the Piedmont Dragway, it was a landscape of joyous mayhem. Motorcycles roaring around the steamy pavement. Classic rock and country gold radiating from the open windows of classic muscle cars and vans. The sounds of cold beer cans being cracked open. The vibrating noise of the mobile tattoo parlor when you walked by the trailer towards the backstage area.
Busted up tour vans and shaggy musicians with heavy guitar cases emerging into the hot, hot heat of the backstage. Like standing in an open pizza oven. If this is mid-May, how damn hot is it when the actual summer rolls around? Sheesh. Shake hands with the old road dogs, many of which hadn’t been seen since the “Before Times,” when the live music industry was flourishing, and with no end in sight.
Grabbing the microphone, I stood atop the stage in front of the Piedmont faithful and gave my spiel. It is truth that many of the performers there are just ‘round the corner for their inevitable fates as some of the most promising acts coming out of Southern Appalachia right now: 49 Winchester, Abby Bryant & The Echoes, Them Dirty Roses, Jive Mother Mary.
Eat hearty amounts of signature Carolina barbecue in the artist catering tent. Find shade wherever and whenever. Find water bottles and hydrate. Find cheap beers in the cooler to continue the quest into a rollickin’ weekend. Introduce more bands. Shakes hands with old friends and new acquaintances. Damn, it felt good to be back in the groove of things after radio silence for over a year.
With the sun fading behind the tree line of the dragway, the temperature started to drop, finally. From 90 to 80, and then some. With the final act onstage, my emcee duties were done, at least for this year’s gathering.
Shake the hands goodbye. Pack up the gear. Strap down the cooler. Crank the truck engine and aim the nose for Greensboro, for hotel rooms and prime air-conditioning, not to mention a chance to wash up quickly and Uber to the nearby college bars in downtown.
So long Power & Sound Revival. So long to those haunting melodies and motorcycle burnout contests. So long to the hatchet throwing and spur-of-the-moment tattoos.
So long to my old friends and those new. See all of you down the ole dusty trail at the next festival, next show and/or chance encounter in this whirlwind of life and tone that we call our daily existence.
The midnight hour rolls by at The Corner Bar in Greensboro. Sipping a draft beer, thinking about what transpired that day. Pondering what mischief that I’ll find myself immersed in tomorrow, the following weekend perhaps.
Sip the pint glass with a slight grin. One happily exhausted journalist and music freak right then and there. And it ain’t even Memorial Day yet. Good lord. The summer and all its unknown adventures are right around the corner. And I say bring it on. See you at the rock show.
Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.