PhunkBerry, NWA’s Forgotten Eden

PhunkBerry17 bands, one main stage, and a tent that might as well be hosted by the Ghost of Eureka Spring’s Crescent Hotel.

Not too far from ‘tall Jesus’ towering above the Ozark Forrest is “The Farm.” The 160 acre venue boasts beautiful 360 degrees panoramic views. 160 acres often forgotten.

Huck Finn and his buddy Jim could nearly skip a rock from the upper reaches of one of the three forks sourcing the famed White River, not too far east, from Razorback Stadium. One of the helicopters rising vertically from the retail capital of the world’s local airport could arrive at the farm in no less the a quarter hour. If the river didn’t flow north for a bit, you could tube to the farm, from Branson, but it does flow north, for a bit. This Ozark gem cuddles the Mark Twain National Forrest, Table Rock Lake, Beaver Lake, and the White River … all within 5 miles of the venue.

Phunkberry reigns supreme for late night carpetbaggers. These festival goers want it no other way. Searching for a getaway from nearby ever-growing Northwest Arkansas, touristy Eureka Springs, and show-tune Branson, the weary limp in to release and re-fuel with experience.

Phunkberry bands

Thursday’s tent revival begins at 7PM. Friends of the Phamily open the festival, easing you into the groove. Heartbyrne and Steady Flow will take you through midnight and Henry + The Invisibles invite you to destroy the natural dance floor beneath your bare feet after 1AM.

Friday introduces 5 back-to-back shows on the Main Stage. Cadillac Jackson jams at 3:20PM, followed by Son’s of Funk, Juno What, The Motet, and Russ Liquid. “The Tent” is just waking up at 2AM. Hosting is Back Up Planet.

Saturday, around 2:30PM, Henna Roso takes the main stage. 5 bands follow: The Fritz, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Kung Fu, The Werks, Manic Focus, Main Stage, and The Focus. “The Tent” will be rocking and The 1 oz. Jig will guide you through Sunday’s sunrise.

Sunday is a day of rest. Peace be to all attending Phunkberry.

ByrdFest and a conversation with Jimmy Tebeau

Driving to Byrdfest is like meandering through God’s canvas, a jaw dropping experience amid the scenic Ozark Highlands.

The campout concert will again be hosted by Byrd’s Adventure Center. If you want adventure, between tunes, this is the place. Kayak, Raft, Canoe, Fish, Hike, Mountain Bike, Rock Climb, 4×4 and more. No shortage of outdoor adventure in this part of the country.

Byrdfest

Reserve your campsite early, because when you arrive the activity from experienced festival goers is dizzying and you’ll be somewhat confused about whether to jump right in or find and set up camp. Waterfront primitive sites, wooded seclusion, and RV/camper hookups are available. Restrooms and showers are also on site, making roughing it modern convenience.

Energy and encouragement reign at Byrdfest. People show-up, rain or shine, for a combination of music and like-minded folk. Handshakes and burdens are checked at the gate for hugs and smiles. Flying disc and early season sunburn are the only worries.

Extended family is what it’s all about. The cult following of all things good unite at Byrd’s Adventure Center deep in the Ozark Mountains, April 21 – 23 for 2 days of campsite concert experience.

Organize camp and seamlessly delve in the flow. The picturesque Mulberry River deepens aesthetics. Sounds of trickling water mix well with laughter and rhythmic Djembe. Riverside banjos and mandolins gently echo throughout the hills.

Sensory symphonies can be soul jolting. Smells of campfires surrounded by conversations from old friends and new dot your environment. Take a deep breath and be mindful of everything around you, and inside of you. You’re here, you’re safe, and you’re grinning ear to ear.

Entering the gates of musical Eden, sights, like twirling fire, acro-yoga, stilt walkers, and Hoop Dance compliment the heady bands.

Once again, Grateful Dead Experience: The Schwag will headline Friday and Saturday evenings. The four-piece ensemble are dedicated to carrying on the vibe and music of the legendary Grateful Dead.

I caught up with my friend Jimmy Tebeau this week at The Schwag’s home base in St. Louis, the old Brown Shoe Company. The building fits the Schwag’s cultural preservation of all things beautiful.

“I knew I wanted to be a musician early in life and create a different type of energy. In 1989, I was at the Grateful Dead concert in Alpine Valley. The energy and power of what a musician can do with music and interact with the crowd.”

This powerful experience led him to study Jazz and Music Theory in college and he earned an Associate in Arts degree in 1994. He founded Camp Zoe in Salem, MO – a 400-acre festival site/campground, the source of Campsite Concerts.

Jimmy has played with the best: String Cheese Incident, Vince Welnick, Chuck Berry, Butch Trucks, Devon Allman, Papa Mali, Future Man to name a few. He founded The Schwag in 1991 and toured the country with The Jerry Garcia Band for 4 years starting in 2009.

“When Jerry died, I wondered, Is it over? Is anyone else going to be able to do this?”

Jimmy immersed himself in understanding 3 chord, 9 minute intervals creating different waves of energy.

“Sometimes it’s not what we do, it’s what we didn’t do.” This is the magic of Jimmy Tebeau and The Schwag.

In parting, Jimmy Tebeau says,

“Be kind to your fellow man and watch out for each other. I paused and asked Jimmy what the one thing he’d want his fans to know about him. His answer, “I appreciate you. It’s not us and them, it’s we, no barrier.”

The walls are coming down April 21, at Byrdfest. The venue is not complete, but booked so far:

  • Old Shoe is a five-piece Americana Roots Rock band based out of Chicago, Illinois. Made up of talented songwriters from across the country.
  • Pink Floyd Tribute: Floyd Animals tend to put you in a state of daze.

And our very own pride of the Ozarks,

  • Mountain Sprout, articulating life of dry counties, turkey buzzards, and river floats.

Freelance dancing from people of all ages and race are welcomed with kind words free of judgement. Disc throwing experts teaching kids the art of frisbee, and culinary campfire chefs are always generous to the occasional passerby.

Familiar faces, sounds, smells, and sights might lead closed minded to ponder what’s really going on here. Love, this is all. A whole lot of love.

Heroes Crying.

An institution that should always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corrupton, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.

–Joseph Pulitzer, May 10, 1883, in an editorial upon becoming publisher of the New York World (reproduced on a bronze plaque on the Times Tower, New York City)

Delving into my 3rd publication about Hunter S. Thompson, I continue to find shocking similarities, but more of whom I replicate on the inside than the outburst of pure insanity. I have not the courage nor the ability to articulate transparency of thoughts, like Mr. Thompson, a brilliant rogue, observing beatniks and blasting political servants.

And if I’m ever to be worth anything I honestly think it will have to be in the realm of fiction (which is) the only way I can live with my imagination, point of view, instincts, and all those other intangilbes that make people nervous in my journalism.–HS Thompson

Elders may relate more to the death of Elvis Presley (1935 – 1977), and some, more jagged in culture, Jimmy Hendrix (1942 – 1970.) I can relate, but only because of my deep roots, in Memphis, Tennessee, do I somewhat understand Elvis. And my home, in upper Fernwood, Topanga Canyon, viewed horizontally, across the gorge, framing Jimmy Hendrix home, on the ‘hot side’ of the Santa Monica Range. From the locals, I’d listen to, peers of Elvis and Hendrix, tell stories of their brilliance, blowing my mind.

But my generation, Gen X, the icon is Kurt Donald Cobain (1967 – 1994.) He defined our generation with legendary acoustic performances, sharing what many of us felt, on the inside, but didn’t know how to get it out. Only through music, his music.

Many of us are not sure exactly why, but when Phillip Seymour Hoffman died, a part of us died with him.

a part of me died

Relating to a multitude of his characters, intimacy reigned supreme, both light and dark.

So many of us affected by suicide, a climatic life event that’s not only disappointing but also humbling to the point of pondering why wasn’t I enough to live for.

travel (ck backpack spain)Charles Kochel writes. Sometimes found wandering the Ozark Mountain streams.

A novice mandolin rookie, but learning just the same. A terrible gardener continuing to try his best to grow healthy food for his family.

His moderate fly fishing skills he considers asana, but only he makes much sense of it, and this is ok.

Mindfulness is sanity.

 

Revolution Equality

We are in the midst of revolution.

The world has turned the corner in a long-time battle for Equality. People are dying, families ripped apart from biased acts of terrorism, reactions, and revenge. Is this all necessary? Has it always been right under our nose and the veil is now slowly being pulled away, exposing right and wrong? Do we sacrifice lives: black lives, law enforcement, military, and our unfamiliar neighbors across the great salt pond? Is it all worth it? Maybe.

Revolution is revolt, a Latin term meaning “Turn Around.” Repent means the same, to turn away from sin. We are fighting righteous battles of morality.

Equal

Fundamental social change for equality is happening, now. It’s not a matter of if, but when social equality becomes reality or we fight and the winner prevails to rule a world full of love or full of hate.

Women vote, People with black skin ride in the front of the bus, homosexuals marry, medical marijuana is prescribed, Muslims pray, and walls of containment have literally fallen.

It’s different. Natural characteristics of the human race are uncomfortable with change. No, it’s not the norm – not what you’re used to. Not yet. We will progress or regress from here. This is why Revolution Equality is at climax.

An issue of this magnitude will not be still, we will move forward, backward, up, and down – each individual will make a decision to react or be proactive, to accept or deny, to open arms or protect individual belief. The collective population of our world will determine the next chapter.

My friends – black people, my Goddesses – women, my brothers sharing skin color like mine – white man, courageous gays, mindful Muslims, beautiful Buddhist, celebrating Hindi . . . the list goes on – good people – all of them, no matter judgement. People – more than skin deep and practicing beliefs. More than you and me. Coming together, for better or worse will determine our quality of life and the lives of future generations.

It seems so simple to choose good over evil. Ignorance is bliss and oblivious to everything else. It’s not that we must come together and prevail good over evil. It is what it is, and what will happen, will happen. It’s how we handle everything. Mindfulness of our own inner thoughts and feelings, what happens around us, and what we will do next. It’s how we love and accept others not in our immediate circles of beliefs and vanity.

A certain frame of mind, understanding our revolution is acceptance and all about the Golden Rule – “Treat others like you want to be treated.” Lack of tolerance is what we are fighting, “An eye for an eye.”

whitestown

It wasn’t long ago, say 35 years, when I invited two of my best friends to swim at a local club pool. They were turned away because the color of their skin. My family dropped our membership. It was my first encounter with prejudice inequality.

We did not affect the club, they needed not our money. But it did affect my friends. Two young black males seeing a young white kid confused, and taking action to speak to his family and the family doing the right thing. No, we did not end bigotry, but we gained friends for life.

It’s society revolting against one another. Small pods of civil war and unrest around the world. So, choose a side and support good or support evil. It’s not religion, race, or ethnic boundaries. We are fighting a war on inequality, hate, and ignorance.

Most people I know stand beside me in my beliefs of acceptance. I’m realizing my own ignorance of assumption, something I work on every day – to not assume anything. I had no idea the number of people with such hate in their heart and soul, to the point of taking another’s life and their own. I’m not hurt, as much as feeling stupid for perceiving the world as a better place than it really is. Chapter 10 has begun and it will unfold quickly. Good luck world, I’m rooting on you to do the right thing. Peace. Love. Equality.

travel (ck backpack spain)

Charles Kochel fly-fishes, a lot. He also writes, bunches. He’s a terrible gardener, but seems to like it just the same.

Sometimes he can be found longboarding farmer’s markets or throwing disc amongst friends in open spaces. His dog, Prana, is named from Sanskrit meaning “life-force.”

He wishes he played mandolin better, but enjoys it just the same.

Radical Insanity

Advocates of hate. My way or the highway. I’m right and you are wrong. Thoughts bouncing around diverse communities throughout. Radical insanity has no borders, no religion, no political affiliate.

She’s ugly and mean. Unpleasing aesthetics of egotistical terrorism dominate her culture. From within her circles she has devout loyalist praising her beliefs and capabilities. From outside, she’s just a bitch.

Why? Because St. Peter is at the gates of Heaven grasping his driftwood staff, confederate flag waving atop. This is our sacred space, righted to us by Almighty God. If you don’t get what we say, damn you to hell for eternal suffering.

Mother Teresa

Condemning Mohammad Ali, His Holiness – The Dalai Lama, Ghandi, and Mother Teresa. “They may be good people, but works don’t get you home. All will burn in hell.”

Faith plays the star role in radical insanity. He’s all we’ve got. Individuals, products of unique environments – our own history, education, hobbies, religious beliefs, friends, family, career and everything that shapes everyday life. It’s who we are. It’s all we know.

Simmered down from a stock to demi-glace it looks something like a theory of dirt. When we die, we either turn into organic matter, or there is more, both is hopeful.

This is not where most radical insanity begins, more somewhere in the middle web. Life after death, reincarnation, cats get 9 lives, people get 7. Whatever your faith, believe it with all you are and condemn no one. It’s not appealing.

“Can’t we just all get along?” ~Rodney King

Religion, government and hippies – the little competitions suck you into escalating cycles. Before you know it, they become oddly personal and somewhere along the way it slips into resentment.

Government elections are bad enough. Religion complicates and staggering numbers of hippies are screaming about GMO’s, and know nothing about what they are.

Relations between the opposing forces are chilling. Polar faiths, known for sure to be correct. It’s not surprising, an overwhelming number of people, most of us, are trying to “keep it in the middle.” Agitated at times, empowering the middle road towards radical insanity.

Society will gladly take you by the hand, leading you to scripted answers. Prospects of people yanked around by society will prove tempting. But for now, lack of tolerance is a form of control – the problem itself.

We’re all trying to get to the same place, following different paths of the spider web woven by each unique life. Acceptance and love – the ‘do right rule’ seems to ring true in my world.

“What we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others remains and is immortal.” ~Albert Pine.

The only question I ponder is, “why not?” If I’m radical, I’m a radical pluralist striving to continuously improve the man in the mirror. Starting with self, we can make a difference in the quality of our own life, and the life of others through small actions of kindness.

Show up for yourself. Find or create the life you want. Do more of what you love. Catch your dream – a career you are passionate about, people you want to be around, hobbies you enjoy and make you happy. Ask yourself, “Self, What do I Want Out of Life? Will I look back, near the end of my days, and say … “at a boy, job well done”?

wooderson

As usual, Wooderson (Dazed and Confused, 93’) has all the answers.

“You got to do what Randal Pink Floyd wants to do, man. The older you get the more rules their gonna try to get you to follow. You just got to keep livin’ man. L-I-V-I-N.

cropped-ck-photo.jpg

Charles Kochel sometimes writes a controversial blog. But, he fishes, so all is well. Wishing peace and love to all those suffering from mindless acts of terror.

Knee Deep

There is no place I’d rather be, than knee-deep, with a stick. A pastime, needing not the roar of a crowd, I do it for myself. No need to wet a line or feel tension on the end of my cane, just as content, with pen and pad, whilst leaning, next to the river.

ck fishing

Of contentment, I enjoy watching a good leaf travel downstream. Harvesting fish, with a blade creating Nigiri Sushi or fried crappie. Natural beauty, picturesque landscapes, pleasing aesthetics, the mind can rest, rejuvenate and be left only to wander.

Fishing the flats of the Ocean, chalk streams of foreign prairie lands and alpine snowmelt. These are my homes. A place where there is nowhere to go, because I’m already here.

Water, never judging, always accepting, the source of life. Covering seventy percent of Earth and Newborn Child, life and water are synonymous, like joy and fishing. This is where I belong.

God created water and Fish before man. Jesus and Hemingway fished and so does my tribe. There is no place I’d rather be, than standing knee-deep waving cane.

Images of me holding a tiny rod and a green 2.5 gallon bucket beside my grandfather and his old blue truck are my first memories. The only thing ever in the bucket was responsibility and I owned it. The bucket and I were pretty tight in those days and I continue to cherish responsibility.

I remember fishing with my father for the first time on a reservoir at the family farm in Southeast Arkansas. He, telling me stories about being my age, having to prime an old hand pump with water for it to work. He talked about the dead heat of summer, dripping sweat. He’d pour the water it in, pump and repeat until finally water started trickling out the spout. Then he’d do it again and again until it poured cold, fresh water to quench his thirst. What I learned that day is you get out of life what you put in.

I remember teaching my best friend to fly-fish in the Spring River. We’d ride backroads, and visit hours on end about life, listening to our favorite music, singing. Our third trip he started to get the hang of wading knee deep, waving cane in the swift, cold water. He’d load the tip of his fly-rod, patiently wait for the line to unravel and extend from a tight loop to a straight line, watching it behind him until he unloaded the tip and the fly changed direction across and up the stream. He stripped his line a few times straight towards his belly button and wham his first trout. He admired and respected the art. After releasing the fish, he retired to a shade tree with a Hemingway book, pad and dull pencil. We fished many times after this, never did he cast more than a few minutes before retiring to his shade tree, watching me, his book, his pad, nursing a smoke and iced wine. My friend died a few months after he landed his first and only fish, the most glorious rainbow, a scrawny little stocker fish, my favorite fish of all time. The rainbow taught me to appreciate the small things in life.

Six years ago was born my first daughter. When she was a week or two old we took a family trip to the lower Norfork tailwater in Northern Arkansas. She had become one with me. Often packing her on my front with a Baby Bjorn, cooking and such other fine chores I want her to learn at her spongy-brained age. This day, at three weeks old, we fished. Papa and his baby girl. Down the mountain to a floating dock, I dropped my fly into the cold, fast moving river and stripped line, watching my fly float naturally down the stream sliding beneath the fog gently lifted by the warmth of the early morning sun. Flicking my wrist, my fly finessed up and across the stream, I mended for a natural drift. We were shut out that morning, but I gained my favorite fishing partner on Earth. I learned unconditional love and what matters most to me. An hour I’ll never forget.

This past week I met my oldest sister after a long, hard week of work and personal strife for both of us, we met at The Rail in Rogers, AR. A beer, some shanks – skipping the small talk, we walked to the FLW event near the farmer’s market. No escaping the familiar aroma of fried crappie, a family favorite we’d shared together for over 41 years. We made our rounds to every vender, listened to blue grass, danced a bit and finally got around to the small talk. Checking out the massive rigs of boat, trailer and truck packages beaming the brand of their sponsors. At this moment, last week, I was reminded who loves me most and the fact much of this realization revolves around fishing. So, I vow today two things. Do more of what I love with whom I love most. It matters.

travel (ck backpack spain)

Charles Kochel is a fly fisherman currently exploring the natural streams of the Ozark Mountains.

Broken, but not dead

Struggling, resisting wiping the first tear escaping my soul for decades, I restrain. She’s so pure. Too real. Pain escaping like nuclear fission of the atom bomb. I am not bent, I’m broken.

Broken is broken. There is no one more than another. You can be bent to extraordinary measures of pain, but this does not change you. Once broken, things will never be put back together the same way. Everything is different.

Humbleness crushes individualism and ego. Silent senses of others like you are comforting. I’m more careful than I once was because I’m afraid. I don’t want to break again. I will, quite sure of this. Lifestyles of the chosen: roads less traveled, blazing paths, territory owned by risk and reward.

Whilst others have faith they know for sure their roadmap from God, we peek around dark corners to see what is real and what is not. Sometimes not seeing our feet, blinded by the chaos of life’s thickets and thorns. Nothing less than a fence protecting us from a jagged cliff. One of us is sure to slip and fall, breaking yet again and again.

See your sister curled in a fetal position, at the bottom, in the valley of rising water, and without thought jump. Because once you’ve been there, you already know, they need not be alone.

Listening carefully and speaking with care is priority over who’s right and who is not. Simplicity and free time are valued more than bigger and faster. Circles shrink. The world has clarity and is good. You can see the fog snaking through the canyon, more stars fall from the sky and the flowers and the children, wow, they are so delicate. The moon is more important, as are others.

regret

There is only one thing I know for sure, I know nothing at all. A great poet once said, “Life ain’t easy” only followed by another living more in the present, “Today was a good day.”

travel (ck backpack spain)Charles Kochel fly-fishes. Currently exploring the Ozark Mountains, he enjoys laughing, baseball, good food, and mindful people.

He writes, tries to pick mandolin and purchased a pair of running shoes today.

Sometimes he can be found wandering the streets and paths of Northwest Arkansas, sometimes he can’t be found at all. Carpe’ Diem, may be your only chance.