We arrived in the USA at Atlanta airport, then caught a connecting flight to St Louis. As we were waiting for our luggage to appear I heard someone behind me talk about ‘Pagan jewellery’ and that’s how we connected with the other presenters who had flown in that day. A bus had been scheduled to pick us up from the airport and we had no problem connecting with the driver and soon we were on our way.
We shared the journey with Jason, the author of the Wild Hunt Pagan blog; Patrick, a well known member of Circle and a longtime visitor to the PSG; and Micheal and Richard, both respected Pagan teachers and experienced travellers, currently living in the Netherlands. Lovely people to share a four hour journey with!
The location for the PSG is amazing. Camp Zoe is a huge scout camp in the Missouri Ozark mountains, built in the 1920s, that covers a huge amount of land. So big that the PSG need a shuttle to take people around the camp site. There is a beautiful Creek with a cool river running through it (extremely useful in the 100+ degree heat with about
80% humidity!) There is ‘merchants row’ where people are selling wondeful goods (including light cotton clothes. Typical Brit, I only brought jeans! So I’m so pleased try are there).
The presenters are blessed to be
sleeping in air conditioned huts. Thanks the Gods otherwise I think I might have just melted in this heat! Me and Cerri are sharing ours with Tracy and Kim, a Japanese musician called Shibaten who is a one-man musical genius. He plays didgeridoo, djembe, and other percussion creating amazing sacred trance music. Well, it wasn’t long before we were jamming together and it was so good I invited him to play with me during my opening concert the next day.
I was playing on the main stage on Monday night. Starting at 8pm and playing until 9.30. I made my way to the stage at 4pm for the sound check and climbed the stairs to the stage. It struck me that I hadn’t played on an open air festival stage since Chalice Well gardens in 2006, and that had been the Summer Solstice eve too.
Doing the sound check out to a sunlight field was amazing – I felt like I was at Woodstock! Shibatan joined me and we set up his sound too. Then it was back to wait for the evening concert.
It arrived soon enough so I made my way back over to the stage. It had been a long time since I’d played in the USA so I was about as fired up as I could get. I’d played Song of Awen at the morning meeting but still it felt right to open with it here. And we were off. By song 2 I could hear the audience singing back to me and I just knew we were in for a good night together.
Now I like to see people in the audience but eventually the field fell into blackness and at that point the stage takes on a very different vibe. Luckily it was only four songs from the end of the set. It was during Wild Mountain Thyme that the G string on my guitar snapped. ‘No problem’ I thought. Only two more songs so I’ll quickly change it. But you’re not allowed to take strings onto the plane so I’d taken them out of my guitar case, packed my spares into my suitcase, where they were still residing, back in the hut! If this had happened earlier I would have been in real trouble but I thought I could play with 5 strings for the last two songs, so Shibaten joined me and we rocked out Child of the Universe by Seize the Day and ended with the Hills they are Hollow. And lo, people did dance and there was much rejoicing. A wonderful audience, and a really fun set. As I played those last two songs I looked up at the clear night sky, saw the Moon, and once more thought how lucky I am to be a Bard, to be able to travel, meet people, and share my music.
After the show Jason of the Wild Hunt came over to me and said, “Damh, come over here, there’s some people you need to meet.” He introduced me to a family who had travelled 4 days across the USA just to see the concert! There was much hugging and smiles to say the least!
In a couple of hours I’m due to head down to the Creek to host a workshop about modern Druidry. If I can find this Internet connection again, I’ll blog more about this new adventure!