Campout for the Cause closed out its 11th overall year – and it’s third at the Meadows in Buena Vista – this past weekend.
Maybe it’s all the rain we’ve been getting and all the snow that has fallen on the Collegiate Peaks, but the shades and tones on the expansive pasture seemed to pop with technicolor intensity – the brilliant white mountains, the sun-kissed Cottonwood trees, the green grassy fields flecked with bright yellow flowers.
Yes, those were dandelions. A weed. But it’s hard to leave Campout with a glass-half-empty attitude.
The intentional, charitable nature of the festival brought together a group of people packed with familiar faces from last year who smiled and said hello like they were longtime locals of the same quaint village.
“Over the 3 years we’ve been in Buena Vista we’ve seen continued growth,” said Bonfire Entertainment’s Ariel Rosemberg. “The product is spreading.”
Every year, he said, the community grows deeper and better.
Rosemberg could not yet say how many tickets were finally sold for the 2019 event. He did note that a positive step forward in Campout’s production was to brand each of the campsites through the varied landscape of the Meadows and allow campers to select ahead of time where they wanted to stay – near the stage, by the lake or by the creek.
This year, the backdrop of the main stage was semi-transparent, setting the festivals teepee logo against an ever-changing but mostly blue, sometimes gray, a couple times very gray color palette and framed against Mount Princeton’s stately visage.
On that stage, the acts offered a more expansive range of textures than the bluegrass that frequently fills the air in this valley.
Of course, Friday night headliners Trout Steak Revival represented that genre well. Saturday night, however, was closed by the California Honey Drops, bringing a funky, soulful big band sound reminiscent more of New Orleans than the band’s native Bay Area.
While the weather was perfectly sunny Friday and Saturday, Sunday brought the rain, perhaps fittingly so during the Gasoline Lollipops set.
Backed by aching strings from Coleman Smith, known to BV as the fiddler for Rapidgrass and head of Coletrain Music Academy, the GasPops played rock music that touched on rockabilly, outlaw country and the old-time tradition of the murder ballad, expressed through the weathered Tom Waits-like baritone of Clay Rose.
“Y’all are hardcore,” Rose told the crowd as they danced in the rain.
They were rewarded when the clouds parted for Campout’s closing act, the lightning-fingered acoustic guitar wunderkind Billy Strings.
Earlier Sunday, the arabesque instrumental music of Tierro and Bridget Law was interrupted by nearby lightning, forcing the crowd to exit, calmly yet briskly, and return to camp.
On Friday, We Dream Dawn had a folk sincerity in former Elephant Revival player Sage Cook and Aerea Fox’s songwriting with a more contemporary musical backing, with Cook sending his guitar signal through a fleet of spacey pedals, playing against hammond organ sounds and buzzy Moog synthesizers.
Like many Campout artists that weekend, the Moog returned to the stage later that evening during Bonfire Dub’s set, providing reggae horn stabs in frontman and Campout curator Scott Stoughton’s head-nodding yet insightful compositions urging peace and understanding.