So What Happened??
I guess I should start with a short note on how and why the Sshh Freedom Festival came to be. As many of you know, I have been traveling the country, protesting at fairs court houses and campuses. Along the way as rewards for my hard work, I often stop and enjoy the festivals along the way, especially hempfests. While enjoying one of those festivals in Michigan, I wondered why don't we have one in Pennsylvania? Then I decided to take it upon myself to host Pennsylvania's first Hempfest. I selected my birthday as the best time for the fest and the Summer Solstice Hemp Happening was born. I began an internet campaign, gathering bands and potential concert goers. By February I was so busy making arrangements that I had to quit my job. I wanted to produce a flawless show,
I came damn close and for that I want to thank all my friends, who helped out, and all those who came to the show. A very special thanks to my very close friends Diane and Terry, Samar and Ted, Jay and Susan, and my brothers Larry and Jeff. We pulled off a miracle, we ran a full scale production with only 8 people. Thanks I love you all. The rest of the Thank yous...
Welcome to my Party!!!
The Summer Solstice Hemp Happening was expected be a gathering of the peaceful tribes, of the earth people, the politically disenfranchised, and the people feeling oppressed by their government, and the system, a classic freedom Festival. It was to be a festival of community sharing, loving and planetary service.
Add to the solstice celebration, sun, fun, music, and activist speakers covering everything from activism, itself, as a right as well as a duty to voting, petitioning , peaceful methods of protesting , freedom, earth issues and the threads of the hemp movement and you have the recipe for interesting weekend.
I arrived a few days early, help cut firewood and set up my command post at Tune Town. Last minute details kept me busy all week. People started showing up as early as Wednesday, The first groups through the gate were from Florida and Colorado, I thought to myself this is going to be huge. Only six of my "workers" came in Thursday, I was a bit worried about security. By Thursday night we had 50 or 60 people already, plenty enough for a party and party we did. I spent most of my time Friday manning the front gate. Some people were shocked and amazed to be greeted by John Galt jr himself at the front gate. I asked them, who else other than the host, would serve in such a position? By Friday night, we had seen cars pass through from New York, Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan. One group had hitch hiked in from Vermont, another from New Hampshire. With less than 200 through the gate, I began to wonder where all my friends from Pa. had gotten to...
Paul and Kelly Playing Rock Stars * John Galt jr. Speaks * Steven came too
The bands began to arrive in the late afternoon, Stephen Gaskin wasn't far behind. A few minutes before 5 o'clock, I fired up the show by introducing my friends "Pauli and Kelli", who wooed the crowd with traditional folk songs as well as some originals. I then gave a short introduction to sshh, what it was about, what the rules of the park were and the like. Next up 7pm was Harvest Moon, who did an hour set of Neil Young classics. I then gave a speech on what I felt was important to the future of the planet. Next up was Diane Fornbacher Aka Honeybud Weedwhacker and Hightimes Freedom Fighter of the month for January 1999. Diane did her "Marijuana Poetry" and then gave a short speech. 9pm viperHouse took the stage and blew the crowd away, because most of them had never heard of this nine piece jazz band, with an electric violin, throaty vocals and dance-able groove sound. After ViperHouse, Stephen Gaskin Aka Saint Stephen from the Grateful song, gave his speech on Cannabis Spirituality, and then tried to steal my thunder, by jumping into his campaign for President. At 11pm Smokescreen took the stage and finished off the night with a set of classic rock from the 70's and 80's. The party went on all night long.
Saturday June 19th. We fired the stage up bright and early, the Ben Swift band took the stage at 11am. After a rocking set Diane Fornbacher spoke again, followed by Marvin Marvin Surowitz of the P.A.R.T.I.E. Party. Marvin talked about looking to the future and the challenges of the new millennium. Next up Larry Goya of Quantum Monkey, talked about the 100th monkey phenomenon and the many uses of industrial hemp. Dogtown Road took the stage next with some soulful rock and roll. I spoke next and staying on the what is important theme gave this speech. Next Allset, an amazing jam band from Boston did an awesome two hour set. Then my best friend and companion Sehlis made her debut as a speaker, she talked about voting rights, disenfranchisement and the importance of voting. Next up was Samar Hatem (who I had introduced as Samar Lovejoy, damn women always changing their names...) Samar took on the recreational value of the sacred herb and continued into what's wrong with the war on drugs. It was now 6pm but Electric Blue and the Kosmic Truth was no where in site. Steven and Marvin and Diane took over the stage until we got some replacement music. One of the guitar players from Dogtown road did an acoustic set. Then all hell broke lose as the Cannabis Cup Band took the stage with Reggae as only the Cannabis Cup Band can. Stephen then again took the stage, and mystified the crowd with his gentle, loving and caring philosophies. Next up "In the Flesh" just another Pink Floyd tribute? That's what we all thought, but they proved us wrong by doing the most incredible Floyd set anyone in this crowd had ever seen. They finished up just before midnight, so I took the stage, told the crowd the Disco Biscuits still hadn't arrived and passed out some free stuff from the stage. I then began my speech about my run for the presidency. At this point I knew we hadn't had anywhere's enough people through the gate to pay for this show, but I decided to have some fun. Someone in the crowd asked if I inhaled, I said I did and a pipe was passed onto the stage. I took the pipe and said "Gee I never did this before" Someone cried out yeah right. I replied "No really I have never smoked a bowl on stage in front of a crowd before". Hoots and hollers followed. I inhaled deeply and someone said exhale into the mike. I did and it was a really cool sound so we did it a couple more times. A short intro for Electric Blue and the Kosmic Truth (who had arrived a couple hours late) and most of the crowd were so blown away, that the Disco Biscuits were not missed by many. At 2am the stage was shut down for night and my friend Jeff from Chicago cranked up his kick ass Stereo with some Zeppelin and the party continued with no end in site. Having slept an average of three hours a night for the past 4 days, I moved into the backstage trailer, for a sound sleep. However as I fell asleep I swore I heard the Disco Biscuits playing. I thought, Damn Jeff's stereo is good. In the morning, some people claimed the Disco Biscuits showed up at 3am and played until the sun came up? Did it really happen? Was it a mass Hallucination? Well one guy I ran into swore Pink Floyd did a set the night before, so I just don't know what happened while I slept...
So what happened Sunday?
I got up early, roamed around the campground and mixed with all the remaining souls. I passed out free stuff and listened to all the comments about love, kindness and good feelings we had all experienced. Everybody in the crowd said I give a kick ass party and they had received way way more than they had bargained for... We passed the hat to help cover expenses, many kind souls threw in amounts ranging from $2 to $50. The party continued, drums were beat upon and... The hundred or so of us who stuck around, got together and decided that those who had not attended should not know what happened on Sunday. The rest of the world missed that loving caring, sharing day, those of us who were there will cherish those memories for the rest of our lives...
Letters from people who attended