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Festivals

October 23, 2022 Leave a comment

It’s been over a year since I published a blog post. A lot has gone on since then. I did a pretty good job documenting my epic road trip last year and then, nothing.

After I made it home I fell into a bit of a funk. I went on the trip to find some direction and a sense of purpose. The one I got was not as inspiring as I’d imagined it would. Living a life and abandoning any sense of destiny. Be humble and find some useful work.

That led to job hunting which I’d never been a big fan of. I don’t like self promotion or rejection and job hunting is a lot of both. I’ll spare you the near misses, disappointments and conundrums. The long and the short of it is I agreed to be the Executive Director of a struggling domestic violence shelter in Leavenworth Kansas. Good, meaningful work in one of the fields I have some passion and expertise and for that I’m grateful.

I had to relocate. As the faithful reader knows I own a modest house in Columbia Missouri. John and Flow agreed to look after it and pay the note while I’m away. I went back to van life for a couple weeks until I found a cool apartment. It’s in an old Jewish Temple, a short walk to work and close to downtown.

I’ve been in Leavenworth about a year and settled in quite nicely. I made a two year commitment and absent any personal life changes that feels about right to stabilize my organization, bank some money and be ready for my post career life.

I’ve also been at my job long enough to earn some time off. I took a bit longer than a week and made my COVID delayed bi-annual trip to the homeland and to see the Detroit Jazz Festival. I’m not a huge jazz fan but my friend Trevor is a super fan and his enthusiasm is infectious.

I decided to fly and rent a car so I could make sure I saw all the family and visit some friends in Toledo. I did all of those things and it was nice to reconnect and see how people are growing and changing. I also did an afternoon at the Toledo Museum of Art.

I did a slow walk through their ancient art collection. I’d been seeing this meme about how ancient Egyptian history is like 3,000 years long and 1,000 years after it began their were ancient Egyptian archeologists exploring old tombs. They had about 2,500 years of artifacts in the museum and it was amazing how consistent it is thematically and in style.

We stayed in a short term rental in Mexican Town. It was a little further out then we’ve stayed in the past but prices are rising. It’s been nice to see Detroit on the rise. That hit home when we had lunch on the patio of the Detroit Athletic Club. Trevor had gotten to know this former Chrysler executive who invited us to lunch. He has served on the board of a number of foundations and organizations that were instrumental in Detroit’s revitalization and with the City as a backdrop he ran through a lot of that history.

The festival itself was really great. We caught some select elements versus catching the bulk of it as we usually did. Less was definitely more. Most memorably was Harriet Tubman, a Doom Jazz outfit. I only caught a few of their songs as I jumped over from Hart Plaza to a side stage but it was really different and really fun. The electric guitar in kind of a metal style was really interesting.

Chucho Valdez was the artist in residence and his set was good. There was a jazz vocalist I really liked and a South African pianist in his 90’s that I liked a lot as well. Trevor and I walked back from downtown one night and that was fun to see more of the city at night.

As a nonjazz fan the thing I like most about the Festival is the diversity and people watching. It truly draws folks of all races from every walk of life from international jet setters to homeless folks. It’s a beautiful thing. Did I mention it’s free?

It’s another festival that got me blogging again. My brother John is the other person whose love of music gets me out to see shows. We’ve seen Blackberry Smoke a few times, Drive By Truckers and some other bands. He likes alt country and southern rock that’s not Lynard Skinnard. When tickets went on sale for Fire Water, Whiskey Myers southern rock festival went on sale I decide to get a ticket and meet up with John since it’s outside of KC.

It’s not really my thing. I’d only heard of Blackberry Smoke and The Old 97’s but I listened to a Whiskey Myers album and decided to go. I came down Thursday after work taking a circuitous route on the back roads. I had my Google maps set to avoid highways from my trip to the homeland so it took me an interesting route. We’re starting to see a hint of color, mostly the yellows. Cottonwoods and Ash are starting the change.

I live in the loess hills by the Big Muddy and enjoy the topography. With a little flat mostly bean fields I went from the loess hills to the Flint Hills which are equally pretty. It was good to see John. I go to Columbia once a month or so to check in, get some extra socialization and go to my book club. I missed last month because I had to work so it was nice to catch up.

Yesterday we got up and walked the first couple of miles of the Iron Hills Trail. It was a typical rails to trails and more for bicyclists but it was good to be out of the dew and get some steps in. I’ve been trying to explore the region since I’m expecting to be a short timer here in Kansas and the Flint Hills are definitely on my list of things to do.

After the hike we caught breakfast at the only diner in town. It’s themed after trains and there are a couple of toy trains mounted from the roof. Reviews say they are loud and get turned on by request. Portions were good and the bacon excellent. On the weekends they have a breakfast bar which is definitely worth it. I met the owner and he was a retired railroad guy who bought the building on a foreclosure. He opened a cafe at the request of the town and it seemed a hub of social life in Oz.

After breakfast we went to the John Brown historical museum and Battle of Ossawatamie site. Awesome place. It was his brother in law’s place who was a nonviolent Abolitionist and JB and sons stayed there for a time. In addition to the cabin lots of cool JB artifacts including his gun, allegedly a sword (I saw his sword in Topeka at the Capitol), his telescope and his travel trunk. There’s a great statue and it’s an old enough museum where promotional materials are now historical artifacts. People used to be cooler is my general impression.

We stopped by the war memorial as well. A Trump flag flying across the street shows how times have changed in Oz. We returned to the hotel and napped and we were ready for the festival.

It was an interesting crowd and we saw some great shows. People were really nice. Not a lot of diversity but for a country music/southern rock crowd they seemed pretty open minded. We saw about as many lesbian couples as folks in Trump gear.

Nikki Lane was really great. Put on a great show and seemed very personable. The Old 97’s didn’t seem to fit in but it was the most enjoyable show of theirs I’d seen. Blackberry Smoke is consistently great. If you’ve not seen them you’re really missing out. I’ve seen them three times fairly recently and it was a long day so I couldn’t Garner a lot of enthusiasm for the show.

Day 2 we caught breakfast at the train place again. They have a buffet on weekends and it was good. We checked out the historic bridges, the Congregational Church, and the Potawottamie Trail of Tears monument. We tried to go to the Louisburg Cider Mill but the lines were long because of their festival. We got some giant barbecue sandwiches and went to the festival.

There was no one I was super excited to see but it was still fun. Quaker City Night Hawks exceeded my expectations. I liked the Reed Southall Band as well. I had lost my enthusiasm for Whiskey Myers after hearing an old song of theirs about the Confederate flag. They didn’t play it in their first hour and we ran out of steam and didn’t stick it out to see if they were still playing it.

Overall it was a lot of fun and good to hang out with John. I had hoped to put some pictures but they’re too deep in my camera roll so excuse the wall of text.