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Finding Bliss at Utopia Fest

I assume it is true of most parents and and a few other careers, but teachers are plagued with a constant and often crippling sense of guilt. I can’t possibly miss a day. There is always more I can be doing, more hours I can devote and more weekends I can spend in my classroom. It is never ending.

But every year, I turn a shoulder to that guilt, I find a sub and put in for a personal day. I pack up my car, I leave the plan books and stack of papers to grade behind and I hit the road for a weekend in Utopia. Utopia Fest, to be exact. It is my yearly pilgrimage to camp, spend some time off the grid and listen to music under the vast, Texas sky. It is perfection.

As in years past, I attended alone. For reasons unfathomable to me, I have trouble finding friends who love both primitive camping and music festivals. Weird. Many commented that I was brave to go alone, but there is nothing brave about flying solo to Utopia Fest. It is a place filled with people who love being outdoors and listening to live music. They are people who will invite you for a drink with them at their campsite. They want to know who you are excited to hear and will dance with you and gush and love music with you. They are people who want to be there so much they are willing to travel to the middle of nowhere and brave mud and porta potties for a weekend of bliss.

Because Utopia Fest is bliss.

Friday’s line-up was my favorite. Everyone from Sid Fly to GZA/Brownout was perfect. Sour Bridges are always a favorite of mine and they never disappoint. Utopia is such a unique music experience and artists always look like they are having so much damn fun being there and it is infectious and wonderful. It was fun to see Father John Misty again. When I recapped to my dad that he had played an acoustic set, he said, “You mean he couldn’t sort of stumble all over the stage?” He couldn’t and I loved his very intimate set. I felt more connected to him and his songs without that fear of him drunkenly crumbling on stage. The Wheeler Brothers got a little bit shortchanged by Mother Nature, who’s deluge closed down one of the stages, but I always love whatever I can hear from them. Grateful Grass was AWESOME! I am a pretty massive Yonder Mountain String Band fan, and any group that includes their mandolin player with his fiery fingers and facial contortions inflicts giddiness in me. GZA/Brownout were a party!

As I had expected, Utopia Fest was rain and mud. It has become expected and I was prepared and loved standing in the rain in my Coraline jacket as the rain and music washed over me. Bliss.

Saturday morning is always fun at Utopia. I wandered throughout the grounds, listening to recaps and recoveries from the night before. I sat by my tent reading a book (a non-teaching book!) and listened to music pouring out from the stage. Cilantro Boombox was this year’s pleasant surprise. Not surprising were Wild Child. I just love that band! Also Cold War Kids!

I am back to my life and grade books and still scraping mud off of my trusty rain boots. But when I close my eyes I can still go back to Utopia and bliss.