Throughout the festival, I was struck with how many people it must take to decide who to invite, to contact and negotiate with each artist, to find and reserve venues and to make a schedule, to have equipment in place at the right time and have it work properly, to make sure accommodations are arranged and the artists arrive at the proper venues at the appointed hour.
I tried to remember to photographs of the sound boards and sound people whenever possible, both because I think the boards are beautiful and amazing and because every single show I attended had impeccable sound. And what is more important than that at a music festival?
I also looked for opportunities to photograph the interesting people visiting our city. According to the New York Times article today, 8,000 people attended all or part of the festival. The same article suggested most of them were from the southern US and I wonder about that. It seemed that many languages and accents filled the streets. Everyone I asked said they were from some place outside the south.
But it doesn’t matter. The press Knoxville received and the good will that was sown will help us keep the great momentum this city has established. I heard several versions and expressions of disbelief that “this is happening in Knoxville.” Maybe it’s time that we say, “Of course this is happening in Knoxville!” Why not? I tweeted my favorite quote from a person visiting the city who said, “If Knoxville was a stock, I’d buy.” We’ve bought. It’s ours and we should expect great things.
The festival ended just outside downtown at Ijams Nature Center’s Mead’s Quarry. A beautiful spot a few minutes and an easy bike ride from the center city, it was a perfect highlight to the extreme variety of amenities we have to offer. It had to surprise some of our guests who had been making the walk up and down Gay Street for the last several days.
For those of us who made that trek each night and heard the various sounds and drones, simple music and complex music, and had experienced deconstructed and reconstructed sonic journeys, the final piece, “Inuksuit,” written by John Luther Adams for up to 99 percussionists, made perfect sense. I don’t think it would have made sense to me or felt as comfortable and pleasant had I not experienced the sounds of the previous seventy-two hours.
The musicians gathered at the trailhead to the quarry and one-by-one identified themselves within the crowd gathered there by standing and blowing through paper cones as they slowly walked toward percussion instruments placed throughout the woods surrounding the quarry. Soft at first, the sound grew to a crescendo, then, over the course of an hour or so, returned to small sounds and the musicians returned to the spot from which they started.
Some of us sat in one spot and listened to the sounds large and small emanating from every direction, while others walked the trails listening as sounds faded or resonated more loudly as they walked. Full drum kits, triangles, xylophones, maracas, sticks, congas, horns of various types, conch shells and whirly tubes filled the air with sound, combining with sounds of the forest, sounds of children playing and occasional incursions from airplanes flying overhead. Somehow it all made sense.
Afterward I felt completely relaxed and happy to have spent the early afternoon with what must be one of the largest crowds to ever join together in that space. Many were very dear friends and acquaintances, some remained from the festival and came to the quarry before leaving town. They had to leave with an appreciation for our city and the area around it. I know my appreciation grew both for the music I heard as well as for my home. We have a lot to be pleased about. It’s good to remember.
I will post nearly 300 total photographs to the Inside of Knoxville Facebook page very soon. You’ve only caught a small glimpse of the sights and sounds from a truly excellent festival. Great thanks to Ashley Capps and AC Entertainment for keeping it here.