What creates “common ground” for people more than – MUSIC! I grew up in urban and suburban Detroit, Vickie was raised on rural West Virginia farmland. But we both grew up loving funk and funky music. Well, seeing the Godfather of Funk, George Clinton and his 2018 Parliment-Funkadelic incarnation got us – and several thousand others – in the groove.
The 14th year for the Nelsonville Music Festival was our first time at the nearby (2 hrs. from Huntington and Charleston, 1 hr from Columbus) eclectic event. All is held on the beautiful Hocking College campus, just outside Athens, Ohio. The 4 day, outdoor extravaganza supports Nelsonville’s historic non-profit theater – the Stewart Opera House.
We came in on Funkday…er, Saturday, and while there are motor home and camper spaces available, we opted to tent camp at a very crowded primitive camping site. If you are not the camping type, there are plenty of hotel accommodations nearby. Once inside the perimeter, you are greeted by a variety of food tents, a big craft beer garden and numerous vendors offering everything from handcrafted jewelry to vintage vinyl record albums.
Kids (and grandkids) 12 and under get in free. The NMF features a huge kids area full of monitored activities that run all weekend long. The highlight was the “Cosmic Dragon Puppet Parade” all through the festival (you have to see the posted video to believe it!).
We arrived in the afternoon and got our camp chairs set up at the Main Stage (one of four music stages). We enjoyed the brusque baritone of Swift Current, Saskatchewan’s own Colter Wall. Wall’s music smacked of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Robert Johnson. A musical about face followed from L.A. rocker Kevin Morby, bringing his enjoyable “City Music” collection to the rural Ohio Valley. I thought he sounded like vintage Lou Reed, Vickie just liked the tunes.
Then, time for a boomer power nap back at camp, returning to our well-positioned camp chairs for the headliners – George Clinton and Parliment-Funkadelic. I’ve seen these iconic funksters three times, this was Vickie’s first P-Funk show. Clinton, now 74, wore a dashiki, and the 16 or so performers also on stage were dressed in everything from t-shirts and jeans, to no shirt with furry pants and costumes that showed off both male and female interplanetary funksmanship. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer did not disappoint, going old school with “Maggot Brain”, hits from “Mothership Connection” and ” One Nation Under a Groove.” From hipster college students to tie-dye clad grandparents, Funkadelic had the throng of thousands grooving to the beat. And, what paraded out in the middle of all that funk but a giant octopus made of hundreds of balloons. About 20 Macy’s parade-like balloon holders kept “Octy” dancing to the funk.
Toward the end of their set, Vickie was among the many who sang along and knew every word to Clinton’s “Cosmic Dog”. We left happy we witnessed what may be the Motor City Music Master’s final tour.
For more on the P-Funk, go to georgeclinton.com – and check out NelsonvilleFest.org. Hey. get out to a festival this summer, and lay your blanket or camp chairs on some musical “common ground”.