Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Life After Folklife

After two weeks of living in a hotel, pulling fifteen hour days, answering endless questions and untangling countless snafu, I have lived to see the end of the 41st Smithsonian Folklife Festival. It was challenging, exhausting, unending and one of the most fun and interesting experiences of my life. I couldn’t wait for it to be over, but I never wanted it to end.

Now, decompressing in the comfort of my family home, I feel conflicted in exactly the same way. I am elated to be relieved of my flock of fifty-plus performers, craftsmen, presenters, officials and a few shamans, but I’m really sad to see them go.

Over the past two weeks I have met some of the most amazing and interesting people out there, from cultural carriers of the four compass points to the people who’ve kept this amazing festival going on for years. I witnessed and helped facilitate a friendly clash of cultures from the Appalachians to the Himalayas, from the British Isles to the islets of the Mekong Delta. The whole process has left my brain in a funk.

I was hoping to make constant reports during the festival, but I was too busy, too tired and too cheap for the ten-dollar internet connection. But while the story is still fresh in my head, I hope to write a few pieces about this great thing that we all took part in. Hopefully I’ll be able to crank out a few decent episodes and people profiles before I run off to my next big messy busy thing, whatever that may be.

So stay tuned. Also, I plan in the future to bring you updates on many of our Yunnan artists. If you stick around, you’ll be among the first to know when the Shangri-La Boys and Rongba Xinna finally press their first albums, or when any of them get a chance to come stateside again. A lot of things were started at the festival, so let’s keep them going…

1 comment:

Heidi said...

hello! this is Heidi, a volunteer during the second half of the festival. The past week has been one of the most amazing weeks of my life and I'm so glad i got the opportunity to work with these fascinating, sweet, generous people. I stumbled upon your blog while trying to learn more online about the different Yunnan cultures. I would love to be kept posted on your experiences of the festival.


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