This is the latest of a series of previews for the Northeast Kingdom Music Festival, which is happening next weekend in East Albany, VT. 


Though easily and often over-looked, the Northeast Kingdom Music Festival is about way more than music.  At the root of our motivations to start, and continue, the put-on the NEKMF is our belief that music, and art in general, is a great event which can afford us the opportunity to come together and appreciate, as well as create, some incredibly amazing, beautiful, empowering, thoughtful, and sometimes just plain badass pieces of the human experience.  Artistic self-expression is often focused on showcasing our individuality, but it is also quite capable (and quite good) at bringing people together to share something- as a part of a larger whole- which brings an entirely different meaning into our lives.

Which is a not-too-bad-if-I-do-say-so-myself lead-up to talking about Bread and Puppet Theater, based just down the road in Glover and coming up Saturday morning to perform their incredibly original and inspiring circus.

From their own website (which, quite frankly, I was slightly surprised to find existed; it wasn’t too many years ago when trying to look them up online that I realized- as I probably should have- that in the Twenty-First Century they weren’t on the web):

Bread & Puppet Theater, one of the oldest noncommercial, self-supporting theaters in the country, has created politically and socially aware shows with commitment to community participation since 1963. At present, our shows are antiwar, anti-Capitalism, anti-Globalization and pro-Vermont independence.

At their farm in Glover, every Sunday and Friday through the summer (um, in if you’re from the area, you know that means July and August) Peter, Linda, Justin, Rose, and everyone else put on performances that, if you’re anywhere close by, you should really make it out to.  And by close, I mean reading this.  For the past few years now they’ve been coming to NEKMF, but there’s also nothing in the world like being out at their farm, so I headed up there this past Sunday.  I’ve got to say, the one part of the afternoon that I overheard a lot of people scratching their heads about- yes some of Peter’s shows are a bit more abstract than others- was one of my favorite parts of the day.  With the crowd led, first from their natural amphitheater/performing field into the forest and then out into the big field, we sat several hundred feet away as the puppeteers (AKA apprentices, AKA Peter’s work crew) put on a largely silent show that lasted, well, I don’t know, a pretty friggin long time.  Dressed as various animals, people, and things, they slowly made their way in small groups to gather under clothes-lines, start small fires, and at the sound of the horn, disappear over the hills.

While a lot of the attendees seemed to be a bit baffled, I thought it was a very beautiful telling of our differences, how we come together as smaller communities in a literal field of many communities, and then just like that, leave beyond the horizon.  The drawn-out, methodical movements across the field hit me as a welcome reminder that although life seems to move by increasingly fast, we are in fact privy to a strange and long life on this place.

B & P are a Vermont institution, and their participation at NEKMF is an incredible addition to our show every year.  


A Quick Word On Cheap Art Philosophy


Again, from B & P’s website:

The Cheap Art movement was launched in 1982 by the Bread and Puppet Theater in direct response to the business of art and its growing appropriation by the corporate sector. With this fact taken into account art becomes: 
“political whether you like it or not…” 
Cheap Art hopes to reestablish the appreciation of artistic creation by making it available to a wider audience and inspire anyone to revel in an art making process that is not subject to academic approval or curatorial acceptance. 
Why? “Because art is food…”, reads the Why Cheap Art manifesto. Cheap Art ranges in price from 5 cents to 50 dollars. 
Anyone can participate!

Quite frankly, the Cheap Art philosophy is readily apparent in what we’re trying to accomplish at NEKMF: we knew if we had a beer garden it would cost everyone a fortune so we decided to just make the party BYOB; we provide free, clean, mountain-fresh water for everyone; and we knew that not everyone can fork-over the $120, $175, $200 tickets that most music festivals are selling these days, so we made sure that we’re offering the best bargain around ($50 in advance for the whole weekend? you’ll easily spent two or three times that much to see one two-hour show from your favorite chart-topper).

And on your way home after the Festival, stop up RT 122 in Glover, catch the 3 pm “ding dong’s” (um, side shows) before the 4 pm circus, which is always followed by fresh-baked bread.  As Peter says, “art is like bread- you need it”.