My feet have stopped throbbing and my phone has stopped ringing. The post-partum depression has subsided and my showcase at DipCo tonight will resolve the rest. Yep, I’m back to being Sammy Gigspots just seven days after wrapping up a colossal Lancaster Roots and Blues festival. Come set a spell at Lancaster Dispensing Company tonight 2/14 for Danny Whitecotton solo and The Plate Scrapers, a jammin’ bunch of bluegrass fellas from Cumberland, MD.
I’ll begin my review with thank-you’s. Thank you Rich Ruoff: for giving me the opportunity to serve as your Director of Operations for this fantastic event. Thank you to the bands and venues for working so hard to make sure everyone was having a blast and finding that buzz. Thank you to the volunteers who made this festival run smoothly and our guests feel welcome. Every stop I made, I walked into a venue packed with happy people. Feel proud of yourselves. You earned it.
The public response to LRB 2015 has been overwhelmingly positive. We made the newspapers eight days in a row. Our social media accounts continue to explode. The photos and videos are pouring in and our post-event survey again shows that over 90% of attendees plan absolutely to return for 2016. Two things people say we improved on from year one: our Shuttle Bus service and our availability of credit card readers. Many people enjoyed riding the shuttle and being able to purchase tickets/merch with their plastic.
Those credit card readers were both a blessing and a curse. It made life easier for our customers but it left us low on the ready cash you need to pay traveling bands living payday to payday. Something that disappointed me personally was the lack of foot-traffic at our Food Truck Court. Our survey results from 2014 included many requests for food trucks and I worked hard to line up some quality food smack dab in the middle of the festival. We even made it a shuttle bus stop but people passed it by.
Our three new venues were fantastic additions. Everyone had high praise for Lancaster Dispensing Company, Trust Performing Arts Center and The Elks Lodge. They have all asked to be part of the festival again next year and they all earned our respect. They all have my vote!
What about the music? Well, I didn’t get to see much. I started my Friday at The Trust so I could introduce the first act of the night, Grand Ole’ Ditch. I love their sound and my goodness that’s a beautiful room! I introduced Sweet Leda at The Elks at 9:10 and stuck around for two songs. They are great friends and one of my favorite bands on the planet. It thrilled me to see The Elks filled with happy people like I remember it always being for Music Fridays. I introduced The Freeway Revival at 10:30 at Federal Taphouse. I love their blend of country, blues and rock. And wow does that place get fun as the night gets late! I closed my night by introducing Second Hand Suits at DipCo at midnight. Only my badge got me inside; the place was at capacity most of both nights. I had my only beer of the night there as I caught up to the pack of twelve family members I had roaming the festival. The music, the crowd, the moment and that beer were glorious. Then I went back to work till about 2:30.
I saw even less music Saturday night. I saw Dana Fuchs melt a Chameleon Club filled to capacity: one song from stage right. I saw Iris DeMent for one song: from beside the sound board. I did get to drive her to and from the Marriott and Ware Center and we chatted a bit. She’s a lovely, regular person and had several questions about Lancaster, our festival and my Subaru. She has a daughter approaching driving age. I got to witness some of the late-night bluegrass jam at Tellus 360 and have a beer with my daughter who was hanging tough for a second night. She said she was proud of me and that was enough music to my ears.
Then it was time to clear Freedom Hall of cars, sound, lights, everything for the gymnastics competition loading in at 8am Sunday morning. I caught a couple hours of sleep then drove home the first carload of stuff. I went back to finish loading out the backstage office and by 11am I was headed home with the last of it.
I visited with my out-of-town guests a bit and got some immediate feedback, mostly positive. Friends tell you the whole truth and I love them for it. They couldn’t stop smiling, laughing and bringing up moments from the weekend. We had only seen each other in passing. They all declared it a success and an improvement on year one. That was all I needed to hear. I hit the showers and caught about 16 hours sleep. Monday was pretty lazy too.
By Tuesday I was back on the job. Yes, there will be a Lancaster Roots and Blues 2016 and yes we will continue to improve. Thank you all for your encouragement and support. You are why Lancaster comes first in our name.