August 18, 2011

magic will do what magic does :: the 2011 Doe Bay Fest

My friend Nick Hornby once wrote something very true and marvelous about a central challenge of human-ness: “Keeping in touch with the things that help us feel alive – music, books, movies, even the theatre, if, mysteriously, you are that way inclined – becomes a battle, and one that many of us lose, as we get older.

We won that battle this past weekend, all weekend long, at the Doe Bay Fest 2011: The Full Moon Festival. With a few hundred other folks for 4 days on Orcas Island in the San Juans, I felt deeply, vibrantly alive. It was like summer camp for adults (and many kiddos) who wanted to touch that thrumming coil of deep goodness that crackles and bursts in live music, if you know where to look and are ready to be stunned by what you find.

Cloudy Shoes – Damien Jurado

I found music around every bend in the road. I ascended a dirt trail at midnight and found Damien Jurado and John Vanderslice playing to a silent circle of folks lit only by the flickering fire of tiki torches. I ducked into a humid nighttime yoga studio and found myself linking arms with Kelli Schaefer and her band and The Head and The Heart, singing a rousing golden version of “Stand By Me.” I wandered through an alder grove to a black-pebbled beach under a full rising moon and watched Ravenna Woods pound out a primal set that made all my blood course hot and pure. I sang a gospel chorus of assurance (“know it’s gonna be alright”) on a crisp Saturday morning on a rocky bluff with Elk & Boar and a crowd of hundreds. I walked away saying, “Did that really happen?!”

I got no problem with massive, whirling, impressive music festivals in all shapes and sizes. I have partaken in my fair share. But the difference here was something quieter and more profound.

As my friends and I looked past the sea spray of the wake left by our ferry as we departed Doe Bay, I think we all felt transformed by music. That is not a common universal sentiment, I find, at many music festivals. I think Doe Bay Fest is onto something here, now in its fourth year as a very organic, do-it-yourself community of musicians and music-lovers, getting together to create something beautiful in this world that is all too often hard and cold.

I think we should be finding and creating and pouring ourselves into hundreds of petite music festivals all over the world that feel like this one. As we challenge the norm, maybe there’s something in there that will save us.

Some new discoveries of Doe Bay 2011:
- Sera Cahoone
- Fly Moon Royalty
- Sean Flinn & the Royal We
- Elk & Boar (“all our hearts just look a bloody mess / they keep us alive, and beat us half to death tonight / but I know we’re gonna be alright)

Favorite moments?
- Pickwick because holyshit
- “Find Me In The Air” with The Builders & The Butchers down amidst the crowd with everyone singing along
- That time I sang my first open mic ever, with Josiah from The Head and The Heart (I am now legit)

The thing I am most sorry I missed:

- Lemolo at the yoga studio (“She sees the world the way she wants…” singalong)

FOR THE EYES: My pictures are over on the Fuel/Friends Facebook Page. The stunningly gorgeous pictures (that capture all the little things of the festival far better than I had patience for) of Sarah Jurado are here.

Only 12 months to go ’til the next one.

Doe Bay Doe Bay!

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  • Glad you had a great time out here! Doe Bay this year was magical, and somehow even better than last year. I didn’t stay up to see the random shows in various corners of Doe Bay (I followed Joe’s advice to go to sleep), but I did listen to Bryan John Appleby and his band Saturday night near the Otter Stage, which included Luke Messimer’s fifth rendition of “Tiny Dancer” that weekend. I agree that Pickwick’s set was amazing, and I loved Campfire OK and Kelli Schaefer, as well.

    Oh, and if you were near the yoga studio, you probably saw my tent. It was the one with the Christmas lights on it. :)

    Katie — August 18, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  • Oh, and my pictures from the weekend are here, if you’re curious:

    Katie — August 18, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  • ahahahhaaaaaaa regarding luke messimer and tiny dancer, but: ONLY THE FIRST VERSE. that was so damn fun.

    browneheather — August 18, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  • Oh hey, I was there for Tiny Dancer too, remember Heather?
    No, really, do you remember? Did I have fun? Did I sing?

    Michelle — August 18, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  • was there cake?
    did i have some?

    browneheather — August 18, 2011 @ 11:14 am

  • PICKWICK, OMG! Holy shit is right. Amazing. I went to Bandcamp and bought all their music. I also bought Elk and Boar and Fly Moon Royalty–I like them a lot, but Pickwick is something else! Who are they? Where have they been?

    Thanks for the tips on the great music–

    Susn Wood — August 18, 2011 @ 1:57 pm


    and: who are they? they are awesome.

    browneheather — August 18, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

  • I hoped I would be hearing and reading things like this… but I wasn’t sure we could do it again. I am still in the zone… Thanks to all of you for coming up and hanging out with us at my little place in the islands.
    Peace and Love,

    JOE — August 18, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

  • Oh man! I’m so sad our paths didn’t cross all weekend :( Thank you for putting into words what I, too, felt the 4+ days that I spent at Doe Bay this past weekend. Pure magic – and a rejuvenation that you can’t buy or find very often.
    Wonderful photos!


    Charity — August 18, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  • what a privileged weekend for very few folks. i’m beginning to wonder if these types of “festivals” are making us “appreciators of good music and communal times”more selfish and cut off from those who need it most. just some thoughts..

    V — August 18, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  • point well-made. but what if we had like a hundred festivals, like this, all over?! psych thrash in a field in delaware, or mood-polka in a group of warehouses in denver… all with committed passionate people. i don’t know, utopian thinking, but i think we should strive to find it.

    or at least know it is possible.

    browneheather — August 18, 2011 @ 6:20 pm

  • This was my 1st Doe Bay and it lived up to my wildest music dreams of what it would be. Heather, I wanted to personally thank you for introducing me (via this blog) to the Doe Bay festival and all the magic that it carries. From the beauty of the island, the bay, the musicians, the people that work at Doe Bay Resort, the connection and sense of community that everyone had……it was almost too good to be true. I was in a group of 6..all of whom, had never heard of Doe Bay, thanks to you, they are forever affected by it. One person in our group came all the way from Kiev, Ukraine to attend….who says blogs don’t make a difference?

    How could you forget Champagne, Champagne?

    Jeff V — August 18, 2011 @ 11:10 pm

  • I’m all for mood-polka. I’m not even sure what that is, but I know there will be barefoot dancing, perhaps on top of straw.

    Dainon — August 27, 2011 @ 5:43 am

  • [...] magic will do what magic does :: the 2011 Doe Bay Fest | Fuel …Aug 18, 2011 … My friend Nick Hornby once wrote something very true and marvelous about a central challenge of human-ness: Keeping in touch with the … [...]

    Bayfest blog | Agraphicpro — March 13, 2012 @ 8:50 am

  • [...] played there in the past to come enjoy the fest’s current iteration, so I am hoping for a neat Doe-Bay-feel to the environment with little division between artist and [...]

    Meadowgrass it up this weekend – - MovieMusicTV - Movie,Music and TV News AggregatorMovieMusicTV – Movie,Music and TV News Aggregator — May 22, 2012 @ 9:10 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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