I started Edstock in 1995 in my backyard. I realized that there were a lot of people with talent who never get a chance to be on stage. Beginners, and shy people who would like a chance to get in front of an audience, but can't figure out how to get there.
So, Edstock. Anyone who wanted to perform, whether, music, dance, comedy or whatever you can think of, could have time on the Edstock stage. We guaranteed a warm reception and an appreciative audience.
I also knew a lot of artists who had photos, paintings and other art objects that never had a chance to get a showing, so I invited them too and they put up their art for all to see.
With music and art supplied, now all we needed was food. Cooks and chefs were invited to bring their best dishes and share with the whole group. When everybody joins in, we have a heck of a party! The potlucks were an incredible feast.
Oh, and let's not leave out the other important part - the audience. We need lots of accepting, easygoing, fun people to come and appreciate all of the incredible talent and effort of the participants.
Edstock has always been, and is still a private party. Up until recent years, it was mostly the result of my personal efforts in rallying everyone to perform or just be a guest. It's had its ups and downs over the last 20 years. Some years, lots of variety, and abundant food, other years - eh. Mostly it was directly proportional to my
effort level. But we persisted.
We've had great performers and artists over the years. Some of the performances have been odd, some terrible, but mostly all memorable. For example a 10 minute digirdoo solo, is kind of odd, but when the digiridoo player accompanied a guitar player singing "Desperado" - memorable!
The fabulous Bill Mattocks was our first professional level musician. He was doing a solo act when we first started, and his contribution to the overall fun level will always be appreciated.
Neil, the stand up comic, will never be forgotten. When he started ranting about Chairman Mao, I think he finally got everyone's attention. And the band "Bear Driving Car" doing strange, and sometimes ribald, lyrics that offended just about everyone has a permanent place in my Edstock memories.
We've had opera singers, show tune singers, rappers, folk singers and some really off the wall original ambient music. Of course the infamous Beth doing that impromptu, and yet very provocative dance, will be forever etched into Edstock history.
Over 20 years, Edstock has become more of a group effort. For instance, Al Murray and Dale Williams helped a huge amount in getting the stage built. People have made some cash donations to cover the costs. Mike Chambers and Dave Bishop have been incredibly generous in letting us use their acreage so we could expand to have camping and stretch the party out to cover three days!
The entertainment has evolved more into bands than individuals. I keep inviting people to perform, but they just keep refusing. I don't understand that. Why are you practicing to sing, dance, tell jokes or whatever, but then refuse to get up in front of people? To me that's just like a tree falling in a forest with no one around.
The first Edstock was a Saturday afternoon. Now we start on Friday night, with people showing up to camp and generally socialize. We have music and food all dayl Saturday. Sunday moring we have a communal breakfast, and hang out until we're all fully recovered.
It has become one of the most pleasant weekend events for everyone. With the help of master organizers like Kelley Bell there are more events, more food, and it's getting to be run more smoothly every year.
It has gone beyond me just having a party, to a special Edstock community with lots of participation and lots of fun. It is truly a group effort.
What Edstock is not.
It is not a blues festival. While bands currently dominate the entertainment, the stage is still open to ANYONE who wants to perform and needs a stage and an audience.
It is not a festival open to the public. Edstock is a private party. You can only come if you have been invited, and you can only come back if you have been invited. If you are an idiot you will be asked to leave.
It is not a money making event. No one gets a penny from any of the activities. In the past I persoanlly handled all expenses. Now we get donations and every penny goes back into things like the porta-potties, the stage, the extra food. If there is anything left over it is saved for next year's expenses. So far we have been lucky enough to break even.
It is not a rich man's indulgence. I have no money anymore, everyone contributes. Dave contributes the use of his land, the bands play for free, I pay for the hamburgers and hot dogs to make sure there is enough food. Kelley donates her time to organize the fund raising.
It is not a drunken, wild drug fest. Kids are invited. Mature adults are invited. Idiots are not invited.
My hope for the future is to add more visual artists. People showing paintings, photos, or sculpture. Betsy Stevenson showed of her flower arrangements last year and it was great to see them.
Have more performance time. Now that so many people show up on Friday to set up their camping, we have more hours to perform on Saturday. I'd like to see lots of more people show their skills.
Another goal is to improve the stage and the dance floor. This year's donations are going to adding more bathrooms, and making the platform sturdier and easier to dance on. It would be good to improve the stage lighting as well.
If you have materials you can contribute or want to make a monetary contribution, please do. I would like to see more food and it would be great to have a volunteer to organize the potluck and maybe even a cooking competition.