This piece originally ran July 11, 2013, in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. I reproduce it here with a few minor edits.
Getting to a music festival in the summertime isn’t that hard.
Some people find it easier to host one themselves.
Take Lawnstock, for example, hosted recently by Lon Edmonds at his semi-wooded property just off Route 93, outside Nescopeck.
Some 20-plus bands played the event, most of them from around these parts.
Edmonds, who’s a self-employed landscaper, says he’s been going to festivals since he was a kid, and that he wanted to give the local, working bands a place to play where they’d get compensated for their efforts.
“I figured why not give people to the little bands. I’ve played in bands before, and I know how hard it is to get two or three hundred dollars out of a bar if you’re in a little band.”
Hundreds showed up for Edmonds’ lawn party. They parked by a barn and trekked up a country road to his sloping driveway in weekend party supply trains: All with backpacks, a couple with sleeping bags, one has the cooler, another the EZ-Up, and someone’s holding the leash of a sturdy-sort of dog. Edmonds’ father (also Lon) played shuttle driver with his Ford Econoline for those parking over at the local fire hall, which provided an overflow lot a mile away.
Everyone heard a slew of local bands. On Saturday afternoon, Duck Duck Goose, out of Sunbury, played Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, their version of “All Along the Watchtower,” the rocking out on the classic rock canon sort of stuff.
Joan, who is biological grandmother of Duck Duck Goose member Jeremy and calls herself spiritual grandmother of the whole band, got up and played the maracas for the band’s last couple songs.
“I play with them whenever I can – I love these boys.”
The band Back Home, out of Hazleton, followed with their jammy originals that pushed guitar, bass, and drums to the fullest point of expression. Their merchandise “table” was a blanket manned by two women selling their CDs.
Throw a lawn party of this sort, and you get some good shopping popping up in your backyard.
There were cigar box guitars available next to the duck pond, where for a dollar you could pick up your duck and get a bag full of glow sticks and candy, next to “succulent” plants in little stone-filled vases – fill up the vase with water and the stones all float. And you have a few tents serving up teriyaki sticks and breakfast sandwiches and other fair-type foods all weekend, which is a great convenience if cooking seems too difficult.
The people who showed up to camp and listen, dance and play wore a lot of tie-dye shirts, or, if men, no shirts at all – but there was also the guy in his Wranglers and New Balances and flip-down shades who would not get two glances at your local Rotary meeting, sitting next to the kids throwing, through hula hoops, those little foam planes you get the last day of school as a going-away gift which break a week later.
Some people played with fire as dusk grew into dark – not the sort of thing you can usually do in a community zoned for half-acre lots without a neighbor complaining.
Here, when you walk down to the entrance of Edmonds’ driveway and look across the fields, a quarter-mile away the nearest neighbors are ripping around on dirt bikes. It’s unlikely they’ll be filing any noise complaints. Such are the advantages of having a little land in the country.
Edmonds says Lawnstock will need a bigger venue than his backyard next year. It already grew three sizes from Year One to Year Two.
Maybe, in 5 or 10 or 20 years, on some mountain somewhere in the Susquehanna Valley, Coors Light will be sponsoring the Lawnstock “SuperJam” stage, one of five stages, and folks will be munching on Chipotle burritos and most of your friends will make it a point to take that weekend off.
Then, the bands playing your local bars won’t be playing there. They’ll need someone’s backyard party, a lawn party, to get people dancing.