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Published: 2004/08/01
by Ben Bruce

Flowmotion’s Summer Meltdown, Sedro Wooley, WA- 7/23-25

It was a family affair. There were a lot of children running around (some naked), and full "Kid's Schedules" on each day, including water slides, pools, face painting, parades, an air castle to jump in, streamer-kites to play with in front of the stage, and more. The Meltdown is just large enough to be an eventit's a full-blown festival, no doubtbut small enough that everyone was camped two minutes from the main stage (There were roughly a thousand people all told). There was a bigger "hippie" influence here than on the East Coast (sign painted on the side of a booth: "Help Stop Cyanide Leach Gold Mining Worldwide"), where the hippie presence is diluted by the "frat-guys-who-like-hippies"type (I was nearly the only specimen).

But family is more than children's activities and closeness. It's also about "Chucko," our neighbor for the weekend. The first thing he said to us was, "Now, are you the only two who should be entering that vehicle? I just like to keep an eye on each other's stuff." It's about trying to walk to the river (which turned out to be 5 miles away) and getting stuck in the blazing sunto be saved by friends who came back to pick us up. It's about croquet in the afternoon, and hanging out with new friends under shaded canopies, with music floating gently on the breeze.

This was the second year the Northwest's own Flowmotion put on the Meltdown at this location, so the land and space was already prepared and there were a lot of nice touches: wood and knot railings along the pathways, camping sites and cul-de-sacs and avenues carved throughout the trees (some hammocks high among them), a signpost with arrows to Stonehenge, Red Rocks, Here, There, and Space, a bench at a bend in the trail. The stage was brightly lit with Rainbow streamers and tapestries hanging from a wooden frame. There was a smaller side stage and a row of vendors (of two typesfor those who couldn't afford a booth, you could pay a small fee to vend off a blanket).

I have to admit, I was surprised by the caliber of music. The bands on the bill were mostly unknowns to me: Rejoice had a very marketable "female singer/songwriter sound." Freedom gave a mature performance of intelligent music that lead you somewhere and carefully dropped you off at the next verse. Clinton Fearon was reggae (and I was teased for not knowing him), the Big Island Shindig was jam. Others were just names I knew: The Clumsy Lovers (bluegrass rock), Vicci Martinez (Ani DiFranco-style stage presence with catchy songs), the Jude Bowerman Band. Each one surpassed expectations, as did the weather, which stayed sunny and hot until Sunday, when it cooled off just enough to be perfection.

All things considered, the Meltdown cannot be considered anything less than a major success, and incredible though it may seem, the festival is the result of the hard work of friends and fanshomemade, grassroots, however you want to describe it, I told you already: it's a family affair.

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