Jun 8, 2011

A sampling of SOHO

I find it somewhat hard to believe this humble blog has followers, so I’ve been surprised by a few people who’ve actually asked where I’ve been lately.  Well, the primary occupier of my time last weekend was my annual volunteer work at the SOHO Music Festival. 

For those unfamiliar with SOHO, it’s a two-day music festival that showcases local bands.  To my knowledge, it’s always held the first weekend of June and is usually located on Washington Street between 5th and 6th Street in downtown Springfield, with the Old State Capitol as its backdrop.  It’s the brainchild of Eric Welch, with profits going to a charitable cause, which for the past five years has been the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery. 

I've known Eric for about five years, and he’s a pretty recognizable fixture among the local music scene.  His latest project is the outlaw country cover band, “Cocked and Loaded.”   Here’s a picture of the band opening Saturday’s line-up.  Not exactly the ideal spot on the schedule given the time of day and the oppressive heat, but they made the best of it.

Eric's the shy one in the middle with the cowboy hat.
My volunteer work usually consists of a hodgepodge of assignments, depending on where a warm body is needed most.  It could be one of the gates carding people and taking the $5 daily admission fee. 

More often in recent years, it’s been at the beer truck serving as a pourer for the masses.  Here are some of my co-workers:

And each year, I come away with some new observations.  So, like them or not, here are a few of my highlights and lowlights from SOHO 7:

·         This was SOHO’s 7th year – in 2011.  That explains the 7-11 homage with the logo.  And no, I’m still not used to the logo blasted across my chest on the volunteer shirt I wear.

·         Two great additions to the food vendors this year – the ice cream truck and Brighter Life Foods (the tofu tacos were a huge hit).

Honest, the kids were all safe!

·         Don’t ask me how the bands were who were playing while I worked the beer truck.  I can only hear background noise between 9 and 11:30 p.m. when the lines are long and orders are coming fast and furious. 

·         By all accounts, however, Dan Hubbard and Humadors rocked the block! 

·         I’m trying to figure out what deal Eric Welch makes every year with the weather gods.  We had about 20 minutes of high winds delay the festival Saturday evening (and destroy some tents at one of the gates), but we avoided a major storm and the rest of the festival went off without a hitch, at least from my perspective.

·         Speaking of Brighter Life Foods, I was one of the volunteers who held their tent so it wouldn’t blow away during the windstorm.  It was part altruism and part desperation.

·         Nothing beats a Turasky’s ribeye sandwich with live outdoor music. 

·         There is a point when it becomes too hot to drink beer. 

·         There is also a point when, despite working at the beer truck, you are too busy to actually drink.

·         At $3 a ticket, the Blue Moon draft was a steal.  And a lot of people took advantage of it.

See what I mean?

·         On a related note, you’d be amazed how quickly you can go through 20 pounds of cut-up oranges. 

·         I’m only guessing, but Pease’s Candies and the Golden Frog Café (both businesses on the block closed off for the festival) had to benefit from the crowds.  I personally know several volunteers who dropped a few bucks at Pease’s.  

·         Outdoor music and hot summer weather provide a great environment for people watching. 

Great crowd ... and hulu hoopers, too!

·         It can also bring out the crazy homeless hippies.  

·         I really wish I had not been too tired to enjoy the after-parties.  Those five-hour energy drinks only get me so far.

All in all, it was another highly successful SOHO, and Mini O'Beirne should be quite pleased with the money raised given the near-record crowds and beer sales (at least from my experiences).  

Summer promises a lot more blog material.  This weekend, I make my first ever trip to Milwaukee with my favorite Gypsy.  It’s the annual Bead and Button Show, which as you can guess is much more meaningful to her than me.  But any reason to travel is a good one, as far this commomer is concerned. 

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