I didn’t really think about going to hippied-out festival sunrise much before I got there. In the morning on the day I left, I busily moved out of Dinwiddy’s warm bubble of friends, music and hidden moments on staircases. The process of saying goodbye to everyone before I go to America was drawn out and sad at times but mostly ok. It seems nothing compared to the exchange students who are going back, who will never see most of us again and for whom we will stay polarised as a smiley part of their ‘year in London’. The timescales involved are still a bit alien to me though, so things blurred by in sentiment, hugs and recycling.
So after a mammoth 10 hour journey to Somerset on the bed in the back of a van we hailed a passing horse and cart (no joke) and found our camping spot and the rest of Rhythms of Resistance, the activist Samba band that I played with at Sunrise to earn my free ticket. The people around me lacked a spare place in their tents so I stayed in my Survival Bag, lying on my clothes. I enjoyed its efficiency and being able to sleep outside with all that freshness but also warmth.
The festival was not completely awe inspiring, but solidly good. Twelve ‘zones’- main stage, tipi zone, healing zone, craft zone, cool trippy zones etc- set in a massive field around a central ‘sacred fire’ with around 8000 people on the site. The trouble for the organisers was that 5000 of those 8000 were not paying (artists, crew, security, food sellers etc) and the festival was running at a big loss. Everyone stuck to the vibe though and pulled into their collective pockets to have more cups of tea and give some money back to the festie. You could tell it was a virgin festival. I wasn’t too bothered though; it saw the 6 days as a suitably relaxing time between the intensity of London and the long summer that stretches before me in Scarborough. I don’t mean to imply Scarborough is not where I want to be, just that I will go back to a different way of life and it might mash my head a bit to go straight there from London. Time in a new and different place (with lots of time to lie around in the sun and lead an ideally chilled existence) always gives perspective.
The Samba started in a very disjointed manner, and I realised I knew far fewer parts on Surdo 3 (the thinnest and highest of the large soft-beater drums) than I thought, and was the only Surdo 3 playing at times, so I sounded pretty bad and mm, wasn’t very happy with myself. However, my playing the Samba generally got better as the weekend went on.
There was loads of space for jamming all weekend at sunrise; a dedicated ‘freedome’ with two nice korg synthesisers, kit, congo drums and all the usuals, loads of open mics in happy hippie tents populated by honest players and furry tunes, djembe collectives in every field and lots of tent playing (including two speedy saxophonists in vans either side of me). Despite this, I didn’t quite feel there was ever room for my penny whistle or Mbira or if there was, the sudden propulsion to join the music that I usually get didn‘t arrive. Maybe I was tired. Anyway, on Wednesday I was hanging around in the main field waiting for my lift back to London with most things closing around me when I found a tent with a guitar player singing a song he couldn’t remember, giving up, and ending with ‘anyway, my point is that I love that woman over there’. A great way to redeem yourself to a caned crowd of a dozen. A clarinet lay on the table, looking delicious.
The upshot of all this was that I had one of the best jams ever with first another clarinet, guitar and drum, then Mbira with drum, then Mbira with Cello. The first time I have done all three in public, and the first time EVER with a Cello which went straight into the zone and stayed there till the end. That jam was easily the most exciting thing that happened at sunrise. And then I got free garlic mushrooms J.
it’s quite nice to lose yourself but when you come back you have to find yourself again. - Ben Feder