The ULTIMATE camping music festival is Woodstock.  There is no argument there.  Imagine hearing Jimi Hendrix wake you in your sleeping bag with a ripping version of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock.  That must have been amazing.  Camping & Music go together like Peanut Butter and Jam.  It is meant to be!

The Renter

This past week, I took inventory of one of our rental teardrop trailers that was being returned.  As I worked through the inspecteion I asked the customer if he’d had a good camping trip.  His answer was “It was OK.”.  I could tell that something hadn’t gone as planned so I dug a little on that and eventually discovered that he’d wanted to recreate a memory he had of camping as a kid.  Not only did he want to relive it himself, but he wanted his own children to experience it too; music around a camp fire.

He had packed his guitar for the trip but when he pulled it out to play some music, the rest of the families and children around the fire were on digital devices and generally detached.  It didn’t go as planned and he was disappointed.  I asked him what songs he likes to sing at a camp fire.  He made a list of songs that are old classics, then he asked “Have you read the lyrics to some old children’s camp songs?”.  I had not and was told that I must read some because they are usually dark, depressing, and violent.  Quite a juxtaposition to what we’d typically think of as children’s material.

I looked up some of these songs.  They are…wonderful…in a twisted sort of way.

Song 1 -Baby Bumble Bee

I’m puking up my baby bumble bee
Won’t my mommy be so proud of me
I’m puking up my baby bumble bee
Yuck! What a mess!

Bored Cowboys

The romantic mythology surrounding the cattle drives of the 1800s lends one to think that the era must have lasted a few decades.  In reality, it only lasted a few years.  Farmers didn’t appreciate cattle being driven across their land and quickly installed barbed wire fences.  Then the cattle drives stopped.  However, for a few years, those things we see in Hollywood movies or read in Zane Gray books did happen.

Cowboys would drive their cattle north from Texas.  In the evenings, they’d cook up some good food (see a great cowboy recipe here), make sure they were ready to protect their cows or themselves and then sit by a camp fire for a time.  Stories, songs, and insults occupied much of the evening.  Any instruments were pulled out and played.  It is a great way to pass the time out on the range with a bunch of stinky cows.  They probably sang some of the twisted children’s camp tunes too!

Song 2 –  The Frog Song

HONK! HONK! went the big red truck one day 
SPLIT, SPLAT! went the little green frog 
Now the little green frog don’t MMMM. EH no more 
cuz he got licked up by a dog *slurping noise*

Musical Artists

The modern musician isn’t too different than the cowboys of the 1800s.  They travel a lot, sing in different locations, and share their stories and songs across the nation.  Additionally, most modern artists live in RVs while on tour.  I looked up artists who’s music was inspired by camping or nature.  The list is long!  Some noteworthy names are: Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, Miley Cyrus, The Beatles, The Black Eyed Peas and many more…

What is interesting is that often these people are writing music while living in an RV…like any other camper might.  Sure they perform at arenas, clubs, auditoriums, and theaters.  But they also perform at outdoor venues.  Sometimes Camping Music Festivals.

Song 3 – Fried Ham

Fried Ham
Fried Ham
Cheese and Bologna
After the macaroni
They’ll be pickles
Ketchup and onions
After the ham
Fried Ham
Fried Ham

The Camping Music Festival

Early on a Sunday Morning in 1969 the sound of a wailing guitar broke the silence over Woodstock, New York.  It was the Star Spangled Banner.  It was Jimi Hendrix.  The audience slept in RVs, Vehicles, tents, or just under the stars.  All were awoken by this guitar.  This is the quintessential moment in Camping Music Festival History.  Attempts to recreate the magic still endure but none are like the first.

The beauty of the Camping Music Festival is that it unites all campers.  Everyone puts their tents on common ground and shares the common interest of the music.  Artists parade on and off of the stage.  Campers share stories, their own music, and often play instruments at their own camps.

My favorite camping music festival was a blues festival in George, Washington (yes, it is a place).  B B King led the pack of Blues Legends.   Buddy Guy, Johnny Lee Hooker, John Mayer, and so many more people.  In the evenings after the music stopped, we’d have some food, chill with old and new friends, plunk on a guitar and talk about the legends.  Those are great camping memories shared by thousands of people.

It’s Up To Us

Now, you may think you’re not a good musician.  And you may be right.  However, you’ve also read the lyrics to some camp songs and they really aren’t that brilliant either.  So, let’s get out there.  Let’s camp with whatever instruments we can find or make.  Let’s sing silly songs about our time away from home.  Who knows, maybe your song about Fried Ham could go down in history as a classic!

Until Next Time,

Mark

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