Concert Review Music Photography

Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival 2018: A Photographer’s Perspective

Main Stage Changes — Year Two

I’ve made it clear on surveys and Facebook posts that I don’t like the tent for the day stage. I’d much prefer the festival to use the beautiful main stage for the entirety of the day, instead of letting it go empty until after dinner.

The changes began in 2017, a festival that started with torrential rain and ended with extreme sun and heat. The main stage lay empty while a small tent was placed in the middle of the field to protect people from sun, rain, and a pleasant experience. Bands played under this little tent until the sun fell close to the ground.

On Friday afternoon in 2017 the announcer came on and asked the audience if they liked the tent and the response was continued applause and cheer. But I felt that if they polled each person, the audience would independently see the other (my) side and hope that the festival would eventually return its daytime acts to the original main stage.

In 2017 the tent was small and the sound wasn’t great. It could only be heard inside the tent, and vendors alongside the original stage were forced to use their radios for entertainment. It was as if Grey Fox just hadn’t started yet, but there were faint sounds of another, smaller, bluegrass festival off in the distance.

2018 saw some improvements. The tent was bigger and the sound was amplified throughout the high meadow area so vendors didn’t need an extra radio. But it was an improvement on a change that never needed changing.

In 2016, the now classic Grey Fox period, the main stage began at around 11am on the outdoor stage and acts would remain there until the early hours of the morning. It could get hot and it could rain, but bluegrass fans are a hearty group. As seen in this post, these people love umbrellas.

The high meadow area used to contain 2 massive shade tents that also protected people from the rain. This gave everyone an option; they could spend time either in the shade or in the sun. The new tent stage removes this option and forces everyone under the tent. Since it’s now 1 tent, instead of 2, it’s actually less shade and protection.

I made this case on a recent Facebook post. Pro-tenters thought that Grey Fox was doing God’s work in protecting everyone from sun cancer. That seemed to be taking things a bit too far. Their other case was that Grey Fox (all of a sudden) cared about the skin health of the band members. I’d be legitimately interested to hear if any members of bluegrass bands actually dislike playing outside in the day.

1 comment

  1. I’ve enjoyed your post and your photo’s. Although your knowledge of the festival itself is a bit short because you miss a very large part by not staying on site. I understand your point of view as far as it goes. I do disagree with your opinion about the day stage and recognize that it is poorly informed and over simplified. You are obviously unaware that several big name performers have refused to play the outdoor stage in the afternoon hours because they are looking directly into the sun and it is blistering hot on that stage for them. Notably, in 2016 a large part of the schedule had to be re-arranged on the fly because of one performers refusal to play. I do understand your perspective given the information you have, but please know that there are other elements in play here.


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