For the second year we spent the Fourth at the El Cerrito July Fourth Festival. Last year it was one of our favorites, reminding us of Berkeley of years past. This year the volume of people was much less and somewhat older. This probably hurt the booths that sold things. But we were there for the contract with people, making deep connections with people. And in that, we hit a rich vein… As you will see below!
We were pulling into the Vista park lot at 7:15 ... there were a smattering of people there setting up booths ... a lot of festival workers setting up the stages in the park, and City of El Cerrito people ... We had a lot of room to unload and get situated!
We got to setting up the tent ... we almost had it down to a science now, after doing so many festivals! It was a lot of fun. Soon, the NRA guy was there, setting up his tent ... more and more people were showing up ... the NRA guy said, "God must have a sense of humor", that he put us next to him. He said they were not "politically correct". We said we're not either! Early on we were starting to wish we had requested the coffees for earlier! But it was fine ... we had said 8:30 so that we would be able to take a break at that point, and wouldn't be kicking the coffees over, etc.! Erika was there at 8:30, with the coffees, then came back with the cookies and flowers. It felt like she was very excited and happy to be able to connect with all of us again ... she asked if there was anything she could do to help us set up, but at that point, there wasn't much, and it would be easier for us to do it ... we thanked her for the coffees and were saying we were ready for a cookie too! Erika felt really happy to be there.
We finished setting up, all took bathroom breaks, and were ready by about 9:45 or so ... there were a few people coming by that early ... we had more of our coffee and sampled the cookies!
People started coming by ... a lot of people mentioned the "karmic" perfection of the LUVeR booth's placement there at the festival ... right between the NRA and the El Cerrito Republican Party! We were saying whoever did the booth layout was having a good time. Right across from the Republicans, they put the Democratic party! We were handing out luver fliers, telling people about Frank, about his show on BTV ... about "Reality Playings", and sometimes we got as far as to mention what was happening at BTV, and how we were asking people to call in ... People just loved the booth, and loved our "costumes"! There were a few who were hoping Mikee's panels were for sale! We gave them Mikee's card ... The guy who owns 1000 rock'n'roll 78s came by the booth, and expressed interest in being a DJ. A blues and jazz singer came by with her husband, a photographer ... We checked out the booth that was setting up late next to the NRA ... it was the music shop owner, setting out all kinds of horns and other instruments ... we ended up getting those yard doodly dads from him too ...
Then you guys were there, and Corey came down to the LUVeRmobile to help bring stuff up to the festival. Soon Frank was in position! Of course, everything shifts when Frank is there ... so much fun! Right away, an older black woman came behind the tables to hug Frank, and was telling Frank and Linda that she had just started taking guitar lessons ... Linda described how Frank plays piano!
There were all kinds of people who came by the booth, and Linda would describe why Frank started LUVeR ... and sometimes tell them about his BTV show, and what was happening there ... A woman who was there as part of a booth for a candidate for Congress, who had come by earlier, really loving the booth, came by again and talked with Frank, and was there several more times that day, really enjoying Frank, and talking more, hearing more about Frank's history ... she loved that Frank had been investigated by Jesse Helms, and said she felt like a "slacker" hearing about all that Frank does! She was really on the same page with Frank, and would be getting together with him ... at the end of the day, we found one copy of Frank's presidential platform to show her, and she loved it! Throughout the day, Frank's run for president last year came up again and again, and we realized we should have the FM4Prez stuff available ... people were still hungry for real ideas to change the way things were going ... Obama's shine had worn off ...
You all went across the way, and Linda found the beautiful purple dress at the African clothing booth there, and later Jen and Mikee brought cookies over for the woman in the booth there ... her dog was excited about them too!
Then there was the Indian girl who came by and said that we were "down to earth", like her! Later, when the two of us went to get coffee, she was there too, and was asking more about what our booth was about ... we told her about LUVeR, about Frank ... she liked it. She had just opened an indian restaurant in Richmond, and was looking at more ways of connecting with the community ... she wanted to have live music there, etc. We told her that Frank often does long jams with musicians who have never played with each other before, and they just start playing ... She was interested! Corey got her info, and that's when he dumped his coffee all down the front of the brand new "Hot Wax" shirt! Later, when we were packing up, she came over and offered us food from her restaurant booth ... amazing tandoori chicken and chickpeas and rice ... She said something along the lines of that of all the booths there, she had really only felt a connection with ours ... she said she looks for people who "understand life" and "respect nature" ... and felt like we were this ... like her ... We were blown away! There were several people throughout the afternoon who expressed similar things ... While it wasn't at busy as the year before, it did pick up at the late end of the day, and the connections were really amazing.
A Brazilian woman stopped by at the end of the day and invited Frank to have the booth at her Brazilian festival the next week. She again really liked the feeling of what we were doing ... And then there was the guy who stopped by at the end of the day, a former member of the BTV board of directors who said, flat out, that what they were doing now at BTV was illegal! He described how hard it was for him when he was doing stuff at BTV to do anything, how the board made things difficult, and how much of a hard time they had with Frank's shows ... it sounded like he was there right before or possibly during the time of the first BTV censorship battle, when they tried to move "adult" shows into the wee hours of the night. Amazing .... And we had it all on tape!
We were packing up around 6pm ... a lot of people had already started packing up earlier ... it was always an amazing transformation from the space into the booth and out again ... leaving a bare parking lot again. Next time, we would be documenting the process ... so it wasn't just pictures of us sitting at the booth, saying that we were somewhere new!
It was a short ride to El Cerrito. We passed the theatre Alexi had worked on the lights for, and then we entered a parking lot where all the booths were being set up. We emptied the truck and then Corey parked it. The canopy went up. Then the backdrops were hung. Little decorations were placed and the tables started to get set up when we all started to feel the effects of no coffee. Pretty soon Erika was walking towards us with what we sorely needed, espresso drinks from Roma! She was excited to be helping us out and that felt good. She went back to the car to get the flowers and cookies. Lots of cookies! All organic and whole wheat, sweetened with maple syrup. The flowers were organic too. She asked if she could help with the set up but we only had fussing over the tables left to do, so we told her we were ok at this point. She headed off.
The set up for the booth is getting easier and quicker. Little things change every time but that is fun, and we fussed over where everything went on the tables so that it all looked really good and accessible. Our booth is so much color and content! The booth next to us was the NRA and they were accommodating right from the start leaving a lot of room beside us so that Frank could get in and out. The guy who was first there said that god had a sense of humor to put us beside each other, and then he said that their organization wasn't very politically correct. I said that we weren't very politically correct either. To the other side of us was the Republican Party and their set up was a little table with an umbrella, so we had plenty of room to get around.
The festival started and we cracked into the cookies right away. They were good! People were trickling in and we were handing out flyers. The first people to come by seemed to be people who were also involved in some booth, like the women from the Democratic Party booth, and the Mahr Baba group across from us. At one point Steve Taylor, who is booked for an upcoming Shaman's Den, came up to the booth and asked if he would be able to get a copy of the show to edit, and Corey told him that he would. Other people got a cd and gave the thumbs up to the booth, the colors, and the fact that Luver is anti-corporate no limits online radio. There was a guy who said that he had a thousand 78's and 45's dating back to the 1940's and we told him about Luver copying record collections and playing them, then burning the records to disc before returning them. The guy said it sounded good and took our contact information. There were a couple of musicians who were also given contact info so that they could send in their stuff. We told people about Frank starting the station 10 years ago and hosting the show The Shaman's Den. People loved to hear that. We waited to hear from you to see when you would be arriving. Many people were told that you would be here a little later so they should drop back in to say hi.
Alexi was hungry and was the first to dig into the sandwiches. It was gone in no time. A little later on Corey and I had ours too. There was the smell of food everywhere. Lots of families too but the crowd never got very big. Pretty soon we heard from you and then you arrived and Frank's presence started to suck people in right away. Many people came up and got the rap about how Frank started Luver 10 years ago when he couldn't find any good music on the radio, so he started his own internet station and when people sent in their music he realized there was good music to be heard, it just wasn't being played on mainstream radio. Lots of people get the anti-corporate anti-censorship thing. They love it. One couple asked what would be the one focus of the station and Frank said 'freedom!'. They got it and loved it. There was an older guy who said that he was all about exploring the edges and beyond too! A woman who was at a booth for a guy running for Congress came up and she got really excited when she met Frank. She had been by before and loved the booth and what Luver stood for in terms of being free radio. She lit up when she met Frank and talked with him about his artwork and what he does. She was amazed! She kept blowing us kisses and saying she was so glad she met us. Frank eventually asked her if they could get together to talk so contact information was exchanged. There were several women and men who wanted to touch Frank. One black woman came around into the booth to put her arms around him and rub his head as she found out about what Luver is. She said she was just learning the guitar. When she heard that Frank played the piano, it inspired her to keep going with the guitar even though she found it difficult.
The day was filled with music as we had luver playing on the ipod, but there was also a guy who owned a music store who had a booth on the other side of the NRA. He had a drum set as well as various horns set up for people to play. Before Frank Linda and Mikee arrived he was playing one of the horns as a young guy played the drums. There was a funky beat and then he would play something like Somewhere Over the Rainbow to it. What a mix! Little by little people kept coming up and jamming with him until by the end of the day there was a full fledged jam going on with many people sitting in a circle playing instruments. Frank gave him a flyer for the next Temescal performance and told him about the music jams there. He also invited the guy to be on the Shaman's Den because the guy was talking about the music being for the kids to learn, play and have fun. Another girl who got a luver flyer said that we were down to earth like her. Later when the boyz went to go get coffee, she told them that she was opening a cafe and wanted artists and musicians to come and play there. She thought Frank would be perfect so again, info was exchanged. The boyz told her about the music jams that Frank organizes and she said that sounded great. At the end of the day when we were packing up, she came by and gave us some free Indian food from the booth she was working at. She said that she could feel from us that we understood life and respected nature and she really enjoyed that. Another woman came up to the booth and found out about Luver, then handed us some information about a Brazilian festival happening soon just down the street and invited us to participate. She said that it was the booth and our energy that was from another planet, another level. It was such a great day!
When we started nearing the end of the day, a guy who had worked on the BCM board came up to the booth. We told him about Frank's show on BTV and he went on to say that when he was on the board, all they could do was talk about how they wanted Frank off the air. The guy said he tried to put the experience out of his memory because it was so horrible, but he said that they always talked about Frank as something they didn't want to deal with. Frank told him the fight that was going on right now with them about the new content rules. Right away the guy could see that what BCM is doing is blatantly illegal. He said that this fight could turn into something big and Frank said that we have a lawyer looking into it right now. Many people heard about the fight with BCM, and another woman said that it was time for the people with money to finally stand up for something.
We also realized today the relevance of Frank's platform and how it continues to inspire people, so we plan on having more on hand to give out. People are already losing hope in Obama, just like Frank warned during the election. Every time Frank asked someone what they thought of him, they would say that he wasn't doing enough. People are still looking for the things Frank proposes.
Even though it wasn't a very busy festival, and the paths were wide enough so that everyone kept walking in the middle of them making it easy to pass us by instead of checking us out, we/Frank/Luver still turned a lot of people on. It was a very satisfying day. Linda got a slinky dress to wear around the house and Corey got a couple of good hours of video. Pretty soon we were packing up and heading out.
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