As you read this, I will be recuperating from… no, make that basking in the glow of… the annual Millpond Music Festival, held just north of the town of Bishop along Highway 395 in the Eastern Sierras of California.
This festival isn’t Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo or anything even remotely close to the size of those events.
Millpond is a (mostly) acoustic music festival that specializes in under-the-radar performers from a variety of genres, including Americana, bluegrass, folk and world. Last year, they even snuck in some jazz, although the group technically would have fallen under the “world” heading.
The music, obviously, is the big part of the festival, but it’s not the only part.
A handful of purveyors sell freshly prepared food (everything from smoothies to stir-fry), local artists display their wares, and there’s even a massage table for those people “of a certain age” who really shouldn’t be sitting in low-backed beach chairs for extended periods of time.
All of that is the “official” part of the festival. The “unofficial” part occurs after hours in the adjoining campground, where old friends sit around campfires, swapping stories and drinking wine.
While I love the music, it’s those evenings around the campfire that keep me coming back year after year, even as fuel costs have skyrocketed.
Take a look at Bishop on a map, and you’ll see that the town really isn’t close to anywhere. If you don’t live in the area, you’re going to burn a lot of gas getting there.
Yet that, too, contributes to the allure. You really feel like you’re miles and miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life — because you are. The mountain backdrop is breathtaking, and the night sky is spectacular.
But everything pales in comparison to the nightly gatherings around the fire, when we catch up on family news, make fun of politicians and generally chew the fat… with the occasional popping sound of a cork being removed form a wine bottle adding to the ambience.
(If you’d like to learn more about this festival, visit inyo.org and click on the Millpond Music Festival link. That’ll take you to lots of information, including some pictures that mere words can’t do justice.)