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News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wheatland wrap

Well, we returned from the Wheatland Music Festival yesterday, and I was thinking of stuff to toss up here, but I was frankly just too burned out to do more than write up today's piece and do my regular day job. I couldn't even watch much more than the first half of the Giants-Colts game before I staggered off to bed (that's my opening weekend of football season -- a few series on Sunday night). A few tidbits:

*--Following yesterday's Mamadou Diabate set, there was an interesting exchange near backstage. A couple of the Wheatland folks had a conversation about getting more of the group's CDs down to the performer sales area. There was apparently a rush immediately afterwards. The Morning Sun coverage team had to leave right away to get back to Mt. Pleasant to get the stories written for today's edition, but before I left I heard that it all got sorted out.

*--Buzz built immediately after his Saturday night set. There were more than a couple of folks I talked to who came down for his Sunday afternoon set -- when there is usually a thin exodus of people -- after hearing about what happened Saturday night. I was there for both, but didn't have a very good view Saturday night, and made sure I was there for Sunday afternoon in a pretty good seat. I've been to four festivals now, and this seems to happen at each one -- an artist previously unknown comes out and just blows away the crowd, and has everyone talking by the end of the weekend.

*--For the second year in a row, there was a music writer there with me. Chris Hatfield graduated from CMU's music program, and has also toured with his own indie rock group, Those Transatlantics. He also did a little writing for CM Life during his undergrad days, so I thought he'd be able to do stuff I couldn't do ... like cover the music.

*--I decided to write columns about the atmosphere and mood this year rather than straight journalism pieces because it's a more flexible format. It seems like every time, in the past, that I'd sit down to write something I'd find myself thinking, "Oh yeah, well what about this?" Atmospheric details are critical to understanding how the festival works. Everything in today's column, for instance, really happened how I described it. I really did wake up with charley horses, there really was someone yelling in the middle of the night (might not have been a hippie, but then again, it might have ... and hippies are always easy targets), there really were some very memorable performances at Centennial Stage, and someone really does come out to inspect the food vendors.

To leave one out would be to ignore an important facet. I tried Saturday to write a piece about how the lousy weather couldn't kill a performance by Ira Bernstein and Riley Baugus first thing (noon) Saturday. Unfortunately, I wound up trying to write too straight a piece. God, who I think hates a stretched premise, intervened with some "difficulties," and I wound up with just 300 words on the weather.

We're starting to run into territory best left suited for future festivals, like on the expertise required to pull one of these things off, the work that goes on behind the scenes, or alumni who show up for no reason other than that they like the festival.


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