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Greta Rybus

Greta Rybus is a photojournalist and photo editor living in Portland. She started her blog, “Who I Met," as a way to begin juicy conversations with interesting people she meets. The blog has migrated with her from Montana, Europe, and, finally, to her new and dearly-loved home in Maine. You can see more of her work at www.gretarybus.com

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Who I Met with Greta Rybus
Posted: July 31, 2013

Who I met at the Ossipee Valley Music Festival

The pine-fringed fairgrounds that hold the festival swell with musical nomads who set up tents in the stables or under trees. Late at night, after the barn dance, impromptu jam bands set up between RVs and camper vans. Everyone seems to take at least one daily dip at the swimming hole, where the current was swift this year. With its roots in bluegrass, it’s a festival centered around good music. But as a musical novice, I found the people who attended the festival just as fascinating.

 

 

ANGE TRAN- BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

 TELL ME HOW YOU CAME TO THIS MUSIC FESTIVAL.

My first Ossipee Valley Music Festival, I came with my grandpa. It was maybe 2004. I was still in college. I remember that there was a lot of good music. We camped in a good spot. I remember there was a very handsome man in a cowboy hat who smiled at me, but I had a boyfriend in college. He made an effort to chat with me a couple of times, but I thought, “You’re gonna get me in trouble!” But, mostly, I just hung out with my grandpa. We have our own adventures together: We go to parks and travel around. For me, this festival is an adventure I do with my grandpa.

TELL ME ABOUT A MOMENT IN WHICH MUSIC, OR A CERTAIN SONG, IMPACTED YOU.

Most of the music that I’ve gotten in my life has come from my grandpa. He’s always making copies of things and sending me mp3s of things. He exposed me to a Maine band called Schooner Fare. When I was a kid, he made me a cassette tape of Schooner Fare and other folk music. It’s very funny because I had this tape that I played to death of Schooner Fare right alongside TLC. I’d switch between “Don’t Go Chasin’ Waterfalls” and “Northwest Passage.”

WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Well, right now, I work very, very hard. I run an art collective with two of my best friends, so we are trying to get that off the ground. I work a lot of other jobs, just trying to get ends to meet. I guess, it’s not just getting myself off the ground that’s important to me, but to do the extra work that’s necessary to be doing what I really care about.  To make it so that other people that care about the same things that my friends and I do, that we enable them through our work.  I’d like to make it possible for people to really engage in things.

WHAT IS THE BEST MOMENT OF AN AVERAGE DAY?

Taking breaks. I like to take breaks. But I always take a break with my friends. We’ll go for a little walk around or get a coffee. We are so busy that we only really engage when we take breaks or get dinner, when I can check up on how they are doing and check in with their lives.

 

 

ELLIOT ROBINSON (ANGE’S GRANDFATHER)- SCARBOROUGH, MAINE and PAISLEY, FLORIDA

 TELL ME HOW YOU CAME TO THIS MUSIC FESTIVAL.

I never realized I was allowed to go to bluegrass festivals. And then I had a friend who was a banjo picker who I worked with at AT&T, and he gave me permission to go. I went to the Thomas Point Bluegrass Festival in 1986, and thought, “Hey! This is great!” So my late wife and I got into doing different festivals. She got sick of it, but I didn’t. This festival started in 1999, and I came in 2003. I heard about it because I pay attention to that sort of thing. I came with my piece-of-crap RV – my bum shack on wheels.

TELL ME ABOUT A MOMENT IN WHICH MUSIC, OR A CERTAIN SONG, IMPACTED YOU.

I think music has meant a lot to me ever since I can remember. I was born in 1939, and they used to play a lot of country music on the radio, and we used to get the station in western Virginia, and they used to call the show Barn Dance or something like that, and at night when the atmospheric conditions were right, we could hear it here in Maine. All the old hillbilly music!

WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?

My kids, my grandkids. Some people think going to work is all about how far you can get. Somehow it dawned on me that going to work was what I did so we can eat. As long as the rent is paid and there is food on the table, and you got something extra you can guy a guitar like this Martin here. I bought this guitar on my return from a summer I spent in Alaska.

WHAT IS THE BEST MOMENT OF AN AVERAGE DAY?

You know, I really like naps. But I’m very slow to get started doing anything and when I actually do accomplish something, I feel pretty good about that. The seats in my old bum shack were really deteriorating and tore up, and I got them all back together myself. It’s not pretty, but it’s a lot better than it was.


 

KATE EIDSON- NEW HAMPSHIRE

 TELL ME HOW YOU CAME TO THIS MUSIC FESTIVAL.

Gosh, I can’t remember. My mom found it. The first bluegrass festival we went to was in Brunswick, Maine. We heard about this one on the radio. The bluegrass show on Sunday mornings in New Hampshire. We started coming here when my oldest, my 14-year-old, was little. You make friends that you see every year. I’m actually not groovin’ on the music as much as I used to. It’s very amplified, where I’m into traditional bluegrass-folk. But, we’ve got so many friends here, it would be sad to miss it. They do have some great bluegrass.

TELL ME ABOUT A MOMENT IN WHICH MUSIC, OR A CERTAIN SONG, IMPACTED YOU.

I remember listening to the National Bluegrass Band at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick, and they did a lot of gospel music. I was a teenager, and not of any particular faith. And I remember asking one of the musicians, “Why did you choose to do gospel music?” And he said, “Well, we believe in it.” I am Christian now, and I wasn’t then. That was a big thing for me. I am very connected to the link between music and faith, and I believe it can be a doorway. Especially bluegrass music.

WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Gosh. I think my kids and my family and my faith, all intertwined into one unit.

WHAT IS THE BEST MOMENT OF AN AVERAGE DAY?

The quiet moments. With so many kids and dogs, as a single mom, the quiet moments are like, “aaaah” ­– when you have five or ten minutes to sit down. We’ve gotten into the routine where I play them songs to sleep. That way, I can practice my guitar playing and singing while I’m getting them down for a nap. Those are the highlights of my days.

 

 

STEVE KOWAL- KITTERY, MAINE

TELL ME HOW YOU CAME TO THIS MUSIC FESTIVAL.

I always loved music. In 1969, I went to three festivals: Newport Jazz Festival, Atlantic City Pop Festival, and Woodstock. I’m an old fart. Shawn Henderson has a radio show called Stay Tuned with live music. I film it for YouTube. This is my second year that I’ve come to this festival.

TELL ME ABOUT A MOMENT IN WHICH MUSIC, OR A CERTAIN SONG, IMPACTED YOU.

Well, my growing up was the Beatles. And then, Ed Sullivan show had the Beatles on. And I taped it. I still have the tapes. Oh, my god, that music. I taped all that live music: Hullabaloo and Shin Dig. I love live music.

WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Peace. And love.  That’s all.

WHAT IS THE BEST MOMENT OF AN AVERAGE DAY?

I have a lot of time because I had a stroke and I am disabled. So I swim and I kayak and I help my friends and my sister, who has Parkinson’s.

 

BRAD HOOPER- ALBANY, MAINE

 TELL ME HOW YOU CAME TO THIS MUSIC FESTIVAL.

I play music all the time. And I have a lot of friends; and they recommended that if I want to go to a festival and just enjoy the day, this is where I should go. It’s great. It’s awesome. I love it. I have some songs, a whole bunch of pieces where nothing is gelling. And when I get around music like this, sometimes it just gels.

TELL ME ABOUT A MOMENT IN WHICH MUSIC, OR A CERTAIN SONG, IMPACTED YOU.

I have a song that I just finished writing for my parents called, “Memories and Mileage.”  Sometimes, I can’t talk about it because I tear up. On stage, I get angry. It makes me a little sad, but I play a lot of blues. And when you play that kind of music, after you are done, you feel great. When you get that feeling going, when someone else feels it in the audience, it’s awesome. The song is actually about Alzheimer’s. If you don’t have a lot when you go through your life, and then you lose your memories, it’s robbery. That’s what it’s about. Isn’t it funny? That question made me cry.

WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Happiness. That’s it. It’s that simple.

WHAT IS THE BEST MOMENT OF AN AVERAGE DAY?

I guess it’s that first cup of coffee, when I know I am the only one at home.

 

 

 RACHEL KEYES- PALERMO, MAINE

 TELL ME HOW YOU CAME TO THIS MUSIC FESTIVAL?

I started going to a bluegrass jam a few years ago with my friends. Me, my best friend, and her sister have a band, we’re Mister Moon. We played yesterday on second stage. I started going to the jam with them, we started going to jams every weekend. This was the first festival I’ve come to, and it’s my favorite.

TELL ME ABOUT A MOMENT IN WHICH MUSIC, OR A CERTAIN SONG, IMPACTED YOU.

Probably every time I turn on the radio! I’m a big believer in God, and that’s how He speaks to me. I’ve had a lot of times where songs that I really don’t like come on the radio, but they are just what I need to hear. And I weep!

WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?

My relationship with God. After that, family and friends, and loving people. Just making sure that is my top priority.

WHAT IS THE BEST MOMENT OF AN AVERAGE DAY?

One of the best things that happens to me during the day is just being smiled at. Just that. I live for the little things, and I can still remember the faces of strangers who smiled at me on the street from years ago.

 

For more about the festival, click here.

 

 

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