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  1. TopTop #1
    Chris Skyhawk
     

    Kate Wolf Festival Concerns

    To: Producers of KWMF 2013

    I would like to give you some feedback with regard to this year's KW festival.

    I have come to 3 festivals, and have brought my family to the last 2. I was very surprised to hear The Sam Chase band early Friday evening at Utahpia stage encouraging everyone to drink, saying they felt sorry for people not drinking, etc. They did this twice during their set. I remember thinking to myself "Who booked these guys? If we are here in part to memorialize Kate's life and vision, how does this fit?" Further, this is being done right near where children and families hula hoop and just uphill from Kidlandia.

    I was not there myself but I also heard from friends that the late Saturday gig with Poor Man's Whiskey dabbled in alcohol themes. I know of a number of people who left because of heavy alcohol use.

    We were in our annual camp with friends on Maple (west side). There was a camp immediately next to your volunteer area that erupted into alcohol consumption Saturday night. People assembled up on a tipi platform that was constructed over a truck bed. Many of them were your volunteers. They screamed ever-louder about getting naked and drinking more. A constant stream of obscenities blasted out over the campground. As I was tucking in my twin daughters a neighbor finally went to them and spoke about their behavior, asking them to tone it down. To their credit they did somewhat, but he endured some pretty harsh language from those in the party who were averse to accepting any limits. Sunday morning a few of them gathered at the truck, speaking up rather loudly about their resentment that anyone would ask any limits of them; they even began a chant "fuck Kate Wolf".

    On 2 occasions I walked through the volunteer camp to do dishes. On each occasion drunkenness was quite evident and the pejoratives "bitches" and "homosexual" were easily heard.

    On Saturday a pick-up truck showed up with a small party attached to this camp. They proceeded to park in the lane that led back to your volunteer camp. I assumed they were unloading and would move. The truck stayed there into Sunday. One of your staff perused the situation Sunday morning and said, "Yes, it is one of ours. Hippies!" He disappeared, I assumed he was finding the owners to have it moved or get the truck towed. The truck was still there when we left Sunday afternoon. In the event of an emergency your vehicles would have been blocked.

    Later Sunday morning a neighbor had to leave, there was quite a car shuffle that happened to facilitate his departure since the lane was still blocked.

    I came to Northern Ca. in 1984. I got to know Kate's music shortly before she died. I did not know her personally but know many people who did. Her work and her spirit encapsulate so much about our regional culture. This festival gives us the opportunity to not only keep alive her memory but to stay in touch with those values that she reflected back to us so profoundly. Having bands glorify alcohol consumption to the point of unconsciousness seems deeply incongruent.

    I have been to many, many festivals, including Hog Farm shows at Black Oak. I understand that living in short-term, spontaneous, and intense community has many joys and occasional challenges. To hold producers responsible for the entirety of guests behavior would be ridiculous. But when a festival such as yours degenerates to frat party behavior that is encouraged by your performers I am forced to question what is going on here and what your intentions are.

    Despite all of this our overall experience was a good one. Many fellow attendees were surprised to hear of these experiences. Most of the music was wonderful. To reconnect with many old friends and to share time with my family in the river is always great. However, I would ask that you seriously consider where this festival is going. At this point it is still an annual event for us, but should these trends continue we will be spending our summer festival time somewhere else in the future.

    Chris Skyhawk
    707-937-4295
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  2. Gratitude expressed by 4 members:

  3. TopTop #2
    Chris Skyhawk
     

    Re: Kate Wolf Festival Concerns

    I received a very thorough and considered response From Cloud Moss of KWMF that I wanted to share here.....


    Hi Chris,

    I would first like to thank you for your support of the festival over the past years.

    I have read over your e-mail and your concerns, digested them, and would like to give you a response.

    As to the booking of the bands it is me, and has always been me, from the very beginning of the festival (which I started) up thru this year. I have received many suggestions, disappointments, irritations, and praise over the years for the acts that have been at the festival. For the most part it's been praise that has come my way. That said, I always take feedback seriously and give constructive criticism a great deal of time and consideration as the festival continues to grow.

    Regarding the concerns you expressed, I find no fault in your opinion that you've formed from the experience you, your family, and others of like mind endured. Some of what you have mentioned did not sit well with me either; especially the description of the camping experience down in the Maple area. I have been assured by one of my partners that the issue with the individual(s) tipi platform will not happen again; nor should it have even happened at all this year. The person involved had already been removed from other festival crews and was not to be allowed back to work the festival; however one of our crew chiefs (apparently unaware of the edict) placed him on his crew, unbeknownst to ourselves. This will not happen again, nor will there be any toleration for the behavior you described regarding the slurs, the sloppiness, the disrespect and loudness directed at festival neighbors, the festival itself, and especially the festival's namesake. Had I been aware of it I would have personally seen to it that those involved were removed; whether they be staff or patrons.

    We are fairly certain that we know where the issue emanates from regarding crew and steps have already been taken to alleviate any of that behavior in the future. Each year we do our best to improve the festival in as many areas as we comfortably, and possibly, can. Please rest assured that this particular issue that you have brought to our attention is being taken very seriously and is being dealt with to the best of our ability.

    Regarding your concerns about the music and groups, I would like to address that in a different vein. I understand the concerns about kids and lyrics. You are right that we cannot control every act's lyrics. Poor Man's Whiskey, one of the band's you mention, has an entire cd devoted to Kate's music and has played two sets over the past couple of years devoted to just that. They have breathed life into her songs and inspired many younger folks to be both interested in the lyrics and realize that, if done with creativity, Kate's music can be danced to. Their late night Saturday show at Arlo was an interpretation of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, done in bluegrass fashion. It is a chance for the young (and older) attendees to have a little space to spread their wings a bit (we also had a set, earlier that day at the same stage, that paid tribute to Leonard Cohen's music). We feel it is very important to attract a younger audience to bring their vibrant and exuberant nature to the event; helping to breathe new life for us all to share and provide an added base of interest that will help assure that the festival can continue, grow, and thrive for years to come. That being said, I will be happy to have conversations with some of the younger bands so that they have a better understanding of the influence throughout the festival grounds (not just with the audience in front of the stage that they are performing at) of some of their lyrics.

    It should be noted that none of the musicians mentioned (or any others) got out of hand, sloppy drunk, or irresponsibly loud during the weekend. The issue at hand, as I see it, is in dealing with the element of people who do not stay within reasonable bounds with their consumption. With that, you have my total agreement. You also mention The Sam Chase, who, if you listen closely to many of his songs, is a very talented, gifted, and sensitive songwriter, that enjoys playing some very upbeat music (within his repertoire) which allows the audience to dance, laugh and sing along. This, among other reasons, is why acts like the ones you have mentioned have been booked over the recent years, and attempts will continue to be made to bring in young bands (amongst the rest of the line-up) to appeal to a new, youthful audience, that will enjoy in and learn about the experience and mellowness of the festival named for Kate.

    I personally did know Kate, I am close friends with many of her dear friends and her family, and they have all appreciated the fact that the festival has lasted these past 18 years and that we are making every attempt to continue its existence (not only to keep her legacy alive, but to also have more and more people understand and experience what the event was created for to have folks partake in community in a mellow, calm and respectful manner around music, in the way that Kate fostered while she was alive). Kate loved all kinds of music, as did Utah Phillips (for which Utahpia Stage is named for), and we want nothing more than to pass that love, respect and sense of community-building energy, around music, onto to generations to come. With that will come growing pains, and not every participant will get to have everything go the way that they want in any given year, but we are doing our best to form a compromise and environment where everyone feels safe and can partake in. We have all come to realize that with an aging population of supporters and attendees, it is in everyone's best interest to formulate a multi-generational environment (which includes teenagers, twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings as well) to keep the festival alive.

    We hope that you will continue to want to support the festival and come with your family and enjoy yourselves for years to come, and we appreciate you bringing your experiences and concerns to our attention.

    All the best,
    Cheers,
    Cloud Moss

    Cumulus Presents Inc.
    Back Roads Productions, LLC
    7350 Fircrest Ave., Sebastopol, CA 95472
    https://www.cumuluspresents.com / PH 707-829-7067 / Fax 707-829-6377
    Kate Wolf Music Festival (https://www.katewolfmusicfestival.com),

    Gaia Festival (https://www.thegaiafestival.com), Jugalbandi Music & Arts in the Schools Project,
    Sebastopol Community Cultural Center concert series (https://www.seb.org)


    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Chris Skyhawk: View Post
    To: Producers of KWMF 2013

    I would like to give you some feedback with regard to this year's KW festival.

    I have come to 3 festivals, and have brought my family to the last 2. I was very surprised to hear The Sam Chase band early Friday evening at Utahpia stage encouraging everyone to drink, saying they felt sorry for people not drinking, etc. They did this twice during their set. I remember thinking to myself "Who booked these guys? If we are here in part to memorialize Kate's life and vision, how does this fit?" Further, this is being done right near where children and families hula hoop and just uphill from Kidlandia.

    I was not there myself but I also heard from friends that the late Saturday gig with Poor Man's Whiskey dabbled in alcohol themes. I know of a number of people who left because of heavy alcohol use.

    We were in our annual camp with friends on Maple (west side). There was a camp immediately next to your volunteer area that erupted into alcohol consumption Saturday night. People assembled up on a tipi platform that was constructed over a truck bed. Many of them were your volunteers. They screamed ever-louder about getting naked and drinking more. A constant stream of obscenities blasted out over the campground. As I was tucking in my twin daughters a neighbor finally went to them and spoke about their behavior, asking them to tone it down. To their credit they did somewhat, but he endured some pretty harsh language from those in the party who were averse to accepting any limits. Sunday morning a few of them gathered at the truck, speaking up rather loudly about their resentment that anyone would ask any limits of them; they even began a chant "fuck Kate Wolf".

    On 2 occasions I walked through the volunteer camp to do dishes. On each occasion drunkenness was quite evident and the pejoratives "bitches" and "homosexual" were easily heard.

    On Saturday a pick-up truck showed up with a small party attached to this camp. They proceeded to park in the lane that led back to your volunteer camp. I assumed they were unloading and would move. The truck stayed there into Sunday. One of your staff perused the situation Sunday morning and said, "Yes, it is one of ours. Hippies!" He disappeared, I assumed he was finding the owners to have it moved or get the truck towed. The truck was still there when we left Sunday afternoon. In the event of an emergency your vehicles would have been blocked.

    Later Sunday morning a neighbor had to leave, there was quite a car shuffle that happened to facilitate his departure since the lane was still blocked.

    I came to Northern Ca. in 1984. I got to know Kate's music shortly before she died. I did not know her personally but know many people who did. Her work and her spirit encapsulate so much about our regional culture. This festival gives us the opportunity to not only keep alive her memory but to stay in touch with those values that she reflected back to us so profoundly. Having bands glorify alcohol consumption to the point of unconsciousness seems deeply incongruent.

    I have been to many, many festivals, including Hog Farm shows at Black Oak. I understand that living in short-term, spontaneous, and intense community has many joys and occasional challenges. To hold producers responsible for the entirety of guests behavior would be ridiculous. But when a festival such as yours degenerates to frat party behavior that is encouraged by your performers I am forced to question what is going on here and what your intentions are.

    Despite all of this our overall experience was a good one. Many fellow attendees were surprised to hear of these experiences. Most of the music was wonderful. To reconnect with many old friends and to share time with my family in the river is always great. However, I would ask that you seriously consider where this festival is going. At this point it is still an annual event for us, but should these trends continue we will be spending our summer festival time somewhere else in the future.

    Chris Skyhawk
    707-937-4295
    Last edited by Barry; 07-19-2013 at 01:07 PM.
    | Login or Register (free) to reply publicly or privately   Email

  4. Gratitude expressed by 7 members:

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