There are a handful of music festivals (or along those lines) that I will try until I go deaf to experience. One of those is Mardi Grad in New Orleans. To get in the middle of that hot, crazed, tasty celebration is something i would give my entire iTunes library to take in. Beads, masks, jazz and blues, bourbon, jesters, ancient (in American tersm) chaos. Loves it.
Other festivals I will try until I go deaf to check out are Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. Most Lolla right now since they ahve discovered that rock and rap and jam and hip hop can live in sweet musical harmony. When Justin (Boutit, not Timberlake) finally broke me into the world of rap that doesn’t include Eminem or ‘Slap that ass up on the floor’ and actually has a hot beat and deep lyrics, I have been trying to educate myself in it a little more, opening myself up to more than just indie rock. And then this recent discovery that labels are actually finding that the two genres can, in fact, go hand in hand, with rock melodies and guitar lines to back up the deep hip hop beats that give the music a little more kick than your average bass. Par example (just from flipping through my Ipod):
Jurassic 5 + DMB ‘Work it out’
Jay Z + Chris Martin ‘Beach Chair’
The genius of Danger Mouse’s Grey Album Beatles + Jay Z
So when, last year, Lolla broke some internal barriers by headlining Kanye and Chili Peppers and following that with a 130 band mix of rap and rock, I was hooked on this new relationship.
A festival I never thought would BE on my list, let alone get checked off, was Live 8 – the 20 year anniversary of Live Aid. I grew up hearing about Live Aid, a worldwide festival to support famine relief in Ethiopia in July 1985, three weeks before I was born. My parents love telling (and I love hearing) the story of how, on an 90 degree day in July, my mom sat in an ice bath 9 months pregnant with me while my dad, refusing to go somewhere with proper air conditioning like a movie theater, sat in front of the TV for 12 hours watching the cameras cut from London, Philly, Moscow, Sydney as bigger than life bands played on together, with the likes of the Who, Elton John, The Beach Boys, Elvis Costello, Madonna, Floyd, Dylan, Jagger, Paul McCartney, Run DMC, Sting, Zeppelin, Duran Duran, CSN&Y;, Patti Labelle. I could go on. My dad taped the entire concert on his Beta recorder and, every few years, would pull it out for a 12 hour rock ‘n roll lesson for me. My mom says that’s why I have such a music knack is because, ready to pop in her belly, I listen to 12 hours of incomparable artists trying to change the world one song at a time.
Well, as good as that story is on its own, it gets better. 20 years later, studying abroad in London for the summer, my trip fell right on the date of the reunion concert, as a new generation (and some of the old) tried to get the world’s (and the G8’s) attention for famine relief in Africa once again. I sat on the lawn of a park in London and watched as Sir Elton, Sir Paul, Madonna, FLOYD, The Who relived history alongside Coldplay, U2, Dido, REM, Annie Lennox, Keane, The Killers, and a list of other new British bands. They would cut on the big screen to Philly, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Moscow, and other cities as they played on too. Ending 12 hours later with “Hey, Jude” I knew it was pretty much fate that I was in this city for something so big to me. And, as you can see, I love bragging about it.