[OutVoice] Pride In The Arts Festival

Len len at stonewallsociety.com
Tue Jun 20 19:31:53 EDT 2006

The Hills Were Alive With The Sounds of Pride And Music

Pride In The Arts Festival 2006

June 16, 17, and 18th 2006 Hosted by: Longfork Campgrounds Walton, WV 

Produced and Organized by StoneWall Society


     It's Friday June 16th, finally! A day I have awaited for several years. The 2006 Pride in The Arts Festival is here. Longfork Campground staff have weaved their magic and presented a wondrous testament to the beauty of West Virginia, and their facility. Rainbow themed signs and bright streamers guide you as they wave and dance in the brisk mountain air. Landscaping poolside created a fun and manicured backdrop to our Festival welcome party. With anticipation and spirits high we were ready to greet the guests and artists.

     Gradually festival partiers started to gather by the pool, as did the artists. By early evening the party was in full swing. Impromptu bartender/singer songwriter Terry Christopher was dishing up Appletinis and the dirty version as well. From all areas, on the cabana talking with Ray "MusicBear" Baker, or poolside chatting with Mike Rickard and partner Eric, Patrick Arena, Georgie Jessup, or Julia Kelly the camaraderie grew, as did our party. Soon fellow New Yorkers; Jade Esteban Estrada, Rubberlegs, (Gordon, Bunny and Anthony), with surprise guest Virgo, Roger Kuhn, Baron, Douglas Allen, and Robert Urban arrived. Momentum was building as the artists and guests made new friends, connected faces with long known names, and started to unwind from road trips. I got to play social butterfly and handle the meet and greet while "IJ" Mountman aka Joe was spinning some GLBT Music and Mike our sound man, was helping at the make shift bar.   

     Soon the muse hit. Rubberlegs' was ready to get the live music going. Road trip behind, they and guest Virgo began the night's musical magic. We were treated, and I believe the artists treated themselves as well, to an amazing impromptu concert. Robert Urban, Baron, Jade Esteban Estrada, Roger Kuhn, Georgie Jessup and Terry Christopher all wowed the party with brilliant performances and a sense of total community. Musicians jumping in where needed and helping the other out. What a wonderful night of entertainment and fantastic party this turned out to be. According to Robert Urban, "You have the hippest New York City bar right here!"

     Throughout the evening the music flowed and more guests arrived. Jed Ryan, (and his partner Derrick), from New York's PM Magazine was flashing pictures and that fabulous smile. Artie Bray of the Washington DC National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mixed and mingled as he unwound from his long drive. Longfork Social Chairperson Danny was zipping in and out attending to all and trying to get in a little fun. While Longfork owners Steve recovered from his long equipment hauling and Eric prepared for his tattoo. (That's' another story, hehe.) A great evening of fun, music and making new friends while meeting the human side of Internet personalities was had by all. 

     Saturday morning and the Festival begins. Longfork's meadow would be our main stage. The roster of talent to be featured could only be matched by the beautiful landscape of Longfork and the gorgeous weather. Jade Esteban Estrada opened, showing why he is called Mr. Pride or the Prince of Pride with his hip shakin' salsa and pride show. Ray "MusicBear" Baker treated us to folk tunes about abusive coaches, wee wee's and Teddy Bears. Rubberlegs brought to the stage their unique alt. tronica sound as only they can with special guest Virgo bringing life to such classics as "Strange Fruit" and "Black Coffee".  Atlanta's Mike Rickard  brought tender acoustics, deep lyrics, and a new blues to the stage. Ezra of NGLTF in DC brought some good news and a message of hope to the crowd. 

    With all this magic ya gotta have diety. And we did, New York guitar god Robert Urban rocked the meadow with his classic rock styles and strong GLBT anthems. Spoken Word artist and singer Baron's "Song for My Mother" was just inspirational. His rich voice resonated the deep emotion of his spoken word artistry. Throughout the day it was again amazing to see such selfless camaraderie among the musicians. Georgie Jessup loaning out her keyboard, Robert Urban backing up on guitar, Rubberlegs loaning all kinds of techno stuff beyond this person's reach. Virgo helping out soundman Mike with some of out technical challenges. All adding to a great day of historical entertainment on the Longfork meadow stage. The day was not over either!

      Douglas Allen enchanted the meadow with his delightful mime performance. He also made a great visual addition to musical renderings. Amazing talent, and body control Doug! When Levi Kreis hit the stage his talent exploded! This man can work a keyboard, sing and get some attention. His "Son Of A Preacher Man" was amazing. Levi's original "I Should Go" grabbed every heart string. A great performer and warm and friendly man. We were next treated to the voluminous talents of the amazing Georgie Jessup. Bringing her audience to tears and standing ovation Georgie shared her art and spread her magic with eagle's wings over the entire campground. 

     New to West Virginia and Colorado's loss Judith Avers graced the stage with heartfelt lyrics, sweet persona and vocal prowess. Judith is West Virginia's newest reason to be proud. A strong performer. Patrick Arena brought some jazz and playful 'tude to the stage. With colorful tunes which tingled all the way down. Damn now that guy sure is a "Hot Dog" eh? The first Favorite Lesbian Musician PITA winner Julia Kelly is a force to ponder. Her stories are as intriguing as her music. How often can you see all genders joining in songs like "I'm A Lesbian Now"? Julia can cause that and with a  huge smile!

      Roger Kuhn can and does create a life force of musical energy throughout the camp. Vocally Roger is the love child of Elvis and Cher. His performance rocks with emotion, wit, and inner power. Roger's voice caresses you while his lyrics awaken the soul. And our last act in the meadow main stage was Mr. Entertainment Terry Christopher. Jazzy vocals, slick moves and lyrics which reach got the audience dancing and on their feet. 

      I did not have the opportunity to see the Amanda Love Review. From all accounts Amanda Love and her special guest Martina Dezarea were pro's and knew how to keep a crowd watching. Hot costumes, enticing performance and sultry were the words of the evening for these lovely ladies. The show was poolside and brought the days festivities to a close. 

       Longfork's attendance number count for campers and day passes was at just over 270 for the entire weekend. Campers and day Festival attendees strolled throughout the property hearing the music and checking out the festival offerings. A nice benefit for the campers was that the music from the main stage was literally alive in the hills and heard from campsites as well as poolside. I feel a great start to an annual tradition right here in West Virginia. Making this area home to a unique and community strong event! If you missed it this year, don't next year! The Pride In The Arts Awards will have a live presentation either in Charleston or Parkersburg in October.

     On a more serious note. I have always been amazed at titled crown holders who do not realize that a titled crown demands a responsibility to represent their community properly at all times. For Ms. Pride of WV 2006 to be ejected from another Pride event for extremely inappropriate conduct is not just an embarrassment for the community but also for the title. Where is the Pride in such actions? And we wonder what is wrong with our community? It is called lack of responsibility and over inflated ego.

     Sunday morning Festival attendees, artists and guests realized a long drive was ahead and minds were filled with beautiful art. A lazy day by the pool was in order. The festive and professional talents of Amanda Love and Martina Dezarea again would close out the day at 4:00pm poolside show. The show was awesome as described by social chairperson  Danny. Luv ya baby!

    The Film Festival results are in and the Festival favorites are..

Favorite Music Video : Paul Manchin's  "Here I am"

Favorite Films Favorite: "Leah Zicari Bootlegged: A 20-Year Retrospective"

Favorite Documentary: "Almost Myself"

Complete detailed reviews of all performances and photographs will be added to the www.prideinthearts.com website by the end of the week, 6-24-2006.

     Congratulations to all, and many many thanks to my life partner of 26 years Chris for his support and belief in me. Also tons of huge thanks to PITA staffers Joe aka Mountman and Mike for their long and tiring work. To Steve and Eric for being such great facility owners-Longfork, to Danny of Longfork for being such a great coworker! To all the staff of Longfork for all the hard work and warm welcome. To all the artists who gave of their talent and self, my love and respect. To all who attended, you are the life-blood of the arts. Because of you the art lives on! Be proud, be happy, and be safe! See ya!

Len Rogers

Pride In The Arts / Stonewall Society

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