Thursday, February 2, 2012

Acoustic Cafe Music Festival

By Lee Waites


If you haven't had a chance to experience Acoustic Cafe music festival in Natural Bridge, Alabama, then I suggest to you this is a good year to start. The lineup this year is excellent. I'll post a link to the website. It's May the 25th and 26th.

A few things you'll need to know. Get your tent set up as early as you're allowed. The official Early Set Up date is the Saturday morning a week before the show. If you call ahead you may reserve a spot using a tarp to mark your site. There is a small fee for the extra early set up. It's worth it. There is plenty of room. But, as with anything, the best spots fill up fast. There aren't really any bad spots. The main thing to think about is how close you want to be to the festivities, and when you want to sleep. Know beforehand that this is a music festival, so of course there will be people stumbling around in the dark with their instruments well into the night. You should not get grouchy about this. There's too much fun to quit.    

Founder, Steve Masterson, and land owner and fellow coordinator, Harbert Cook have sculpted the festival grounds with deft attention to practical needs as well as maintaining the natural beauty of the woods and wilderness. There is a small lake on the property but no swimming or boating is allowed. Last year I took my bicycle and my son's bike and when we needed a break from everyone we took a ride. It's beautiful. The bike was also a practical way to get around on the property. Depending on the size of the crowd at any given time you might have to leave your bike on the edge of a show. As with pretty much everything else you have to use your judgement. There are a number of rules in place, which I recommend you learn ( http://www.theacousticcafe.com). They make sense.

There will be food available from vendors. Or you may bring and cook your own. Don't build a fire in the grass. Don't bring glass. Don't do anything stupid.

The atmosphere is very laid back. Be Aware that you will probably sweat some during the day. I recommend you bring any and all cooling strategies at your disposal. Set up a hammock. String a tarp from some trees. Drink plenty of water. In the heat of the day it can get pretty steamy, but there are places you can hide if it gets to you. And it's worth any sweating to be a part of this.

Coffee. Free...Good...Free...uh...very good. Bring a thermos. The coffee will be provided by Primavera Coffee Roasters, a local company. And I need to mention it's good...and free.   http://primaveracoffee.com/   

Just hanging out with so many laid back and cool people is fun in and of itself, rambling around all night with a drink in your hand, music flowing in the air, glow sticks . I assure you this event will reset your clock for you, to the off position.  That's in a good way.

There will be sporadic shows popping up in campsites all over. Stop in and visit. I have yet to find an unwelcoming soul at Acoustic Cafe.

The stage shows:  Kick back with a beer, in your hammock or your camping chair, get off your butt and go dance by the stage, any way you want to enjoy it the stage shows are amazing. On Friday, Birmingham's own Jason Bailey performs, completely in his element, and smokin' hot. Herb Trottman, a must see.

A personal favorite of mine, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, will be playing this year. These guys are very diverse while keeping to Old Time Music.  They infuse an intelligent, historical spirit, imbued with the musical creations drawn from their African American heritage, mixing with a frolicking playfulness and sheer magnificent talent. They are captivating, entertaining and fun.



Saturday during the day, then also later in the evening, the bluegrass rock stars, Dread Clampitt will be belting out their energetic, charismatic jubilation. These guys are really good. And they're fun to watch. Be prepared to dance.

Saturday night: Another Birmingham band, the Allen Tolbert Unit who I'm looking forward to seeing for the first time. The Trishas rolling in from Ausitn Texas, Duke Bardwell. More dread Clampitt. Caroline Webb. And the somewhat Bluegrass, somewhat other, all excellent style of Larry Keel & Natural Bridge to top it off.  



A loose family of "earthy tie-dyed people."  Don't bring any negative energy and you're not going to find any. Be prepared to have fun. Try to remember the rules. Bring a thermos. Free, good coffee.  What else was there? Oh yeah... bring a thermos. 















Allen Tolbert

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