McDowell Mountain Music Festival: Drum Circles and Tequila Tents

This weekend marks a big occasion for fans of outdoor music festivals and jam-ish bands: the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. The lineup boasts The Flaming Lips, Matisyahu and Michael Franti -- a pretty solid lineup for such a festival (and I didn't even include Hot Tuna). Those artists all lend respectability to the festival and allow the festival to be put on the map, if you will, in the realm of smallish outdoor music festivals in heavily populated American cities. The festival is in it's sixth year and is looking strong -- all of the work done by the promoters has resulted in a well-planned and impressive looking music festival. All of this hard work comes to a screeching halt, however, after one quick look at the festival map.

There it is, situated in the upper left hand corner: a drum circle. Putting aside the fact that this map looks like it was put together using Kid Pix, knowing that there is going to be a drum circle at the festival just opens up so many questions. This is, however, a festival in a mountain, so the idea that men may get the chance to sit in a circle and drum away their biggest fears about their marriages or stress at work should be very consoling for some. I just hope The Flaming Lips' set won't be overshadowed by the craziness ensuing at the drum circle.

I don't want to pick on the drum circle; it's actually a brilliant idea for this festival. I'm sure it will be a big hit -- no pun intended. Our society, as it stands in 2009, often looks down upon hippies, however. Comedians, news outlets and bloggers (including myself) alike love to take pot shots at hippies and their tightrope-walking, hackysack zaniness. These same hippies flock to drum circles like Twilight fans to their local Hot Topic. The way I see this little slice of bongo heaven, if you will, is not unlike the dude who busts out his acoustic guitar at the party. Everything else is going great, there's some good music on the stereo and the beer pong has been rather competitive. Then that one dude goes into his room, busts out the Gibson and  starts playing "Semi-Charmed Life" and "Wonderwall" much to the dismay of most everyone at the party.

These side attractions -- drum circles and tequila tents -- exist to give fans something to do when a band they don't necessarily like or aren't familiar with is playing on stage. I understand this fact fully having attended an outdoor music festival or two in my day. It would appear the McDowell Mountain Music Festival has this covered with their booze tents, but then again, not everyone attending will be over 21. It's a cold, hard fact for those underage fans to know the next best option they have will be sitting in a drum circle -- and this isn't taking into consideration the festival is sponsoring a Rock Band area.

So get out to Westworld, bring those timbales you've been waiting to show everyone, and enjoy the super decent weather for today and tomorrow.

Check out the McDowell Mountain Music Festival's lineup at it's official site.

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Michael Lopez