On the Road Again - Destination: Hookahville

report filed 5/31/00, 8:43 am - Shortly after posting last week's update, the HGMN van began the long roll Northwest toward 'Hookaville Spring 2000' in Ohio. It's a pretty good haul. Roughly a 13 hour trek from HGMN HQ in Greenville, NC. Of course, that's assuming that you don't get lost and run out of gas along the way. Which is what happened in our case.

The crew onboard for this weekend's adventure constitutes the core of the HGMN operation, including Lee Crumpton, Marcie Vogel, Brian Rogers and Edwin Vaughan. Highly trained and battle tested, the HGMN's festival barnstormers are scheduled to hit no less than 15 music and camping festivals this summer. Last week's All Good 'festival was the first, kicking off the season in style with the HGMN setting a new CD sales record for a festival weekend. This trip to Hookahville is the second date on the Summer schedule.

After working a full day at the office, the HGMN crew packed the trailer full of CD's, T-shirts and camping gear. Once everything was together, we hit the road. Not exactly sure when we left, but it was probably around 11pm or so.

Somewhere along the way he had one of those classic, late night/early morning twilight zone experiences at Denny's. Nothing like watching a waitress and cook argue over every order while waiting way too long for your food, half asleep and hungry. It's a special type of torture.

Ultimately, patience prevailed and we ate. My pancakes were actually quite tasty, in spite of the wacko service. Wiping maple syrup and a bleary grin from my face, I hopped in the van and attempted to catch a snooze. Must've done a pretty good job, because the next thing I knew, we were pulling off to the side of the road, apparently out of gas. At first it seemed like a strange dream. Then came the realization that it was really happening. We were out of gas somewhere near the middle of nowhere.

Our problem was relying on directions from mapquest, which got us tangled up on some goofy back roads somewhere around the North Carolina/West Virginia border. Navigating the hilly, thin ribbon of asphalt was rough on fuel consumption. Seems that our van, a Chevy 'Astro,' is a notorious gas guzzler. Hitch a trailer to the van and you can start measuring its performance in gallons per mile.

Anyway, there we were, rounding turn after turn, climbing up and rolling down hill after hill, when the engine sputtered and died. Sure, we would have put some fuel in the vehicle given the chance, but apparently we didn't come across any gas stations that were open. At least that's what I'm told. After all, I was sleeping. So there we were at about 3:30 in the morning. Although we had several AAA cards among us, nobody in the crew carries a cell phone.

Ever the trooper, Brian volunteered to walked off in search of a phone, and I decided to join him. It was a short walk. Maybe a quarter of a mile, or in local vernacular - 'two turns and a hill,' we came across a pay phone at a convenience store/gas station.

Unfortunately the store was closed 'til 5:30 am. So we called AAA. They told us that road side service would have a few gallons of gas for us within 45 minutes. They lied. As it turns out, the gas station opened up before AAA arrived. Fueled and no worse for wear and tear, we were once again on our way. It was smooth sailing from there. We got to the festival in plenty of time to set up and get our vending booth and campsite together.

Situated at the Buckeye Lake Music Center, Hookahville Spring 2000, is the semi-annual festival hosted by Ekoostik Hookah. Now in its sixth year, the Hookahville series continues to grow from its modest beginnings as a backyard cookout for the band and its fans. Early estimates of the crowd for Spring 2000 top 15,000 people. Headlining both nights, Ekoostic Hookah booked some pretty hefty talent to open both nights of the weekend music and camping festival.

Friday night's show opened with Deep Banana Blackout, a super funky HGMN band from Connecticut. Next up was Ratdog.

Although a bit inconsistent and at times lethargic, Ratdog had a few fine moments and was well received by the large crowd. After sunset, Hookah took the stage. Rocking an extended two set performance, including Weir joining in on a few tunes, Hookah played well and were clearly enjoying themselves.

After the final encore, a rousing version of the now anthematic 'Hookahville,' the focus turned to partying under the stars, and ultimately, catching a little sack time.

Had it not been for some heavy weather, the drum circles and campfire soirees would have raged 'til sunup. Thankfully, the rain put a, er, damper, on that action. So with the soft pitter patter of rain on the large tarp stretched over our tents, we got a few hours of quiet time at camp HGMN.

Saturday's lineup started with the David Grisman Quintet, but unfortunately, for some reason or another, I was preoccupied at the HGMN booth and wasn't able to catch his performance. Heard it though, and as always, Grisman and his band sounded great! After realizing that I missed Grisman, I made it a point to catch Arlo Guthrie's set. Glad I did. The guy is an American treasure.

In addition to doing outstanding versions of his 'hits' - "Alice's Restaurant," "Comin' In to Los Angeles," "City of New Orleans," and "The Motorcycle Song/I Don't Want a Pickle," Guthrie brought out his daughter and they performed duets of songs by Pete Seeger, and his father Woody Guthrie. Outstanding stuff! Of course Ekoostic Hookah capped the festival with another marathon, two set extraveganza. This time Grisman and Guthrie sat in, and overall it was another solid performance for the boys from Ohio.

The drive home was uneventful. Got back sometime after midnight on Sunday. Now it's Wednesday. Hopefully I'll be moving into my new digs today. Plenty of stuff to do here at the Anytime/Anywhere studio and getting settled will go a long way toward gearing up the production...

After posting this update, the first order of business is transcribing an interview with Bela Fleck I did yesterday. That's going to result in an article for the Las Vegas Weekly, previewing the Flecktones upcoming show in the neon city. After that, it's time once again to dig into the stack of CD reviews that has been sorely neglected over the past few weeks.

But we're not just dealing in future events - we've got some new stuff this week. Check out the new Roger Waters article and the new installment of Points On A Line, our monthly column for Jambands.com. We've also posted a couple of new and exciting links for your cyber surfing pleasure.

OK, that's it for now... check back next week as the adventure in music journalism continues...