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October 18: the Webb School Arts and Crafts Festival, Bell Buckle, TN,

& Hippie Hill, TN.

What a seriously fascinating day… We were up early and out of Sam’s place in Huntsville by 8:30, on the road toward Bell Buckle. We’d gotten the Hippie Hill show a while ago and picked up this Bell Buckle show last minute because they’d had an act drop. The drive between Huntsville and Bell Buckle should have only taken us an hour and a half, and it mostly did. Until the last 3 miles outside of town where we literally sat in traffic for 2 1/2 hours!! Not only the worst traffic ever, but we almost resorted to peeing in whatever containers we could find in the car. In a final act of desperation I jumped out of the car and ran the last 1/2 mile to a gas station, meeting up with Eric a while later as traffic slowly creeped by. We found out later that the population of Bell Buckle is around 500, but during just the two days of this festival it grows to around 80,000!!

We finally met up with Heather, the festival organizer, and she helped us find where we’d be performing, over by the fair’s food court. We met up with Richard from Hippie Hill, who was doing sound and had set us up with both shows. We had about 20 minutes so he encouraged us to decompress from sitting in traffic and wander around the festival. It was massive, and pretty awesome too. And I fell in love…

…With a large wooden people-faced goat statue. Seriously, it’s been a couple days and I can’t stop thinking about this amazing statue. It was sitting outside the Purple House as a part of an antique sale. The asking price was $100 and there was no information on where it came from. I don’t know what it is about this people-faced goat statue, but I really love it so much. Which is weird, usually I can talk my away out of big pointless purchases… I want this thing so badly though. Untittfyled-1The painting from our show that afternoon went to some really sweet students that were hanging out near where we performed.

After cleaning up and packing the car we followed Richard n his pickup to Hippie Hill. What. A. Place. We turned onto a dirt road under a big wooden gate and very carefully picked our way up an extremely steep and boulder-y hill (they weren’t kidding about that part of the title, we were almost afraid our little Camry wouldn’t make it), past mural-painted school buses and small camping trailers that have obviously been parked for a while. As the hill plateaued we were greeted by more trailers, a big wooden stage, a huge teepee, people sleeping in hammocks, dogs running all over the place, and an amazing views. Richard immediately began showing us around, introducing us to Mama and Hippie, the couple that started Hippie Hill, getting us a home cooked dinner, pointing out the radio station/office and yurt-style kitchen, and telling us about the Helping Hungry Kids program.

I asked Mama about the origins of Hippie Hill. She told me that her and Hippie had been homeless and that 14 years ago they’d decided to get some land and build a community where homeless people, and especially homeless kids, could have a safe and loving place where they were accepted and cared for. They run programs to teach kids art and music, and charge anyone who chooses to live there just a couple dollars a day to cover the community expenses. They also serve huge meals out of the kitchen, getting a lot of the food donated (when we were there they’d just gotten a bunch of cases of bananas). Hippie taxis kids off the property daily to their jobs in neighboring towns. They also host lots of music festivals and shows, and were very excited to have us on the stage for the night. It’s pretty difficult to describe the community of Hippie Hill, so here’s a collage of photos I took during the evening: Untitled-3It got really cold as the sun went down, and we spent quite a bit of time by the fire, keeping our hands warm so we could perform well. We shared the stage with Blind Uncle Harry and The Stolen Faces, sandwiched between the two of them. Everyone at Hippie Hill was awesome while we played our set, we had a spectacular time! This sweet family got to take the painting home, and Richard, Hippie, & Mama all got into the photo with us all: Untitled-5We’d originally been planning on staying the night there at Hippie Hill, but a schedule conflict resulted in there not being any place for us to sleep. So instead Mama insisted on getting us a room at a motel where she had some connections, even though we tried to convince her that we’d be fine sleeping in our car. But she made us a reservation, gave us directions, and sent us off. And it was one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever stayed in. After floors and couches, it was so amazing to get to experience a soft warm bed, long showers, breakfast, and to get to do laundry. Untitled-4We were completely amazed by the giving hearts of the Hippie Hill community, and we’re already looking forward to going back.

Also, I want that people-faced goat statue. So bad!