Nelson Ledges Quarry Park has become a little serene getaway for my festival-buddies and I. I first heard about the Ledges from my friend Jeremy, and have been to a few festivals here before, but this was my first ‘Hookah’ weekend – a festival with headliners Ekoostik Hookah. In a very impromptu decision, that involved only about a half-hour of packing, my friends Nathan and Lanie hopped in my RV and we headed west towards Ledges.
Friday night, we deployed ‘Grandma’s House Mobile’. In light of our very elaborate campsite at Blue Heron, Bober and I are getting accustomed to having an attention-capturing campsite. So, using only what we had in the RV at the time, we hung some Christmas lights, put some color changing spots on the trees, and set up a few awnings.
And the awnings were pivotal. All of Friday night and most of Saturday morning was filled with torrential downpours. Nathan and I remarked on how we’ve grown so accustomed to RV camping at our festivals that we aren’t sure we’d ever have the stones again to attempt tent camping. Our glowing campsite with dry awnings attracted wet hippies like bugs to a light, and as usual, Nathan and I were entertaining guests all night.
Friday night with Ekoostik Hookah was one of my favorite musical moments in my festival history. Based in funk grooves, blues influences, and rock momentum, Hookah was right up my alley. We caught the last part of their set during a thunderstorm. It’s hard to describe, but there is something primitively carnal and entirely seductive about dancing with hundreds of strangers in the pouring rain.
I also got to see Buckethead, one of the most unique and strangest shows I’ve ever seen live. Between his attire (known famously for wearing a KFC bucket and a plain white mask to protect his anonymity), his guitar virtuosity, and his strange gimmicks like passing out Star Wars toys to the crowd, Buckethead was just as much of an entertainer as he was a guitar prodigy. Playing with only a backtrack of drums and bass, he performed for hours of lighting-fast fretboard arpeggios.
We met up with some old friends from festivals’ past, and met some new ones as usual. Despite an obnoxious guy that, being severely under the influence, loitered at our campsite all weekend, shouting, spitting, and generally behaving like a buffoon – everyone in our RV had a great time getting away for the weekend.
Nathan and I like going to Ledges fests because they don’t require the kind of advanced planning that Heron does. For Heron, we spend thousands of dollars and weeks of time in preparation, but going to Ledges for a weekend only requires throwing a change of clothes and a toothbrush in the RV, and its easy to keep the trip under $100 a person.
Going to Ledges feels like going to festivals the old way – without projects, schedules and to-do lists. Unlike Heron, Ledges is a chance to let go of responsibilities for a while. There is certainly a lot more anarchy going on at Ledges. Very different than Heron, Ledges is full of people blasting music at all hours, hooting and hollering at the top of there voices, and certainly draws a much younger (and drunker) crowd. Not that this is always a bad thing, because there is inherent fun in the pandemonium at Ledges. But at Heron, I don’t feel the need to bike-lock my generator to my wheel hub to prevent theft. Not the case here. Heron is family reunion; Ledges is chaos.
But Ledges holds a place in my heart. It’s a place to let go and be an actual ‘guest’ at a festival, enjoy some music, and be free from a schedule. The property is gorgeous, great musicians are booked regularly, and vehicle camping is the norm, so it’s a great place to tailgate for a weekend to escape.
We are still kicking the idea around of going to Fall Badfish at Ledges too, weather permitting, so let me know if you wanna try that or some other fall festival.