High Sierra 2010: Surprise Me Mr. Davis @ Camp Harry – Moore is More

Photo by Andy Gadiel

My High Sierra High is dwindling. I have taken multiple showers, the dirt is almost completely off my feet and my sleep schedule is almost back to normal. Friends keep asking me about how my festival experience was, what bands I saw and what ridiculous costumes I wore. There was so much magic that happened in those few days up in Quincy, and yet I can’t stop thinking about Surprise Me Mr. Davis’s set at the infamous Camp Harry.

Now, I think at this point, I should let the reader know, that I am half way through the Po Bronson book, What Should I Do With My Life, and I have been thinking a lot about my own purpose in life. My hippie friends tell me it is part of my Saturn Return, my therapist tells me its a quarter life crisis, and my parents tell me not to do anything rash. Whatever it is, it all seemed to come together while I was huddled in a circle around Camp Harry at 1:30 in the morning, freezing cold, rocking a leopard snuggie that I borrowed from my friend Neal, exhausted…and yet I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

I am not even sure that musically, the band performed that well, but it didn’t matter. For the hour and a half or so that they played, it was so obvious from the smiles and laughter that we were all there together, part of something bigger than ourselves. At one point, Nathan Moore, the lead singer handed the crowd plastic kazoos and encouraged us to put our egos aside and rock out with him. I probably hadn’t played one of these since I was ten or so and yet that childhood excitement and wonderment came back after my first blow into the kazoo and when the band lead us in their take on “With a Little Help From My Friends” I found myself screaming out the lyrics and really feeling like at that moment, everyone in the crowd was one of my friends.

While Nathan fumbled around, deciding what to play next, he asked the audience if anyone had anything to say. An older gentlemen, who in my mind looked like a old mountain man, stood up and took the microphone. Turns out it was Nathan’s dad and he eloquently spoke about how grateful we was to be able to see his son perform for people who loved and respected him and how he was so proud of his son and so happy for him that he found this musical community that had become his family.

As the older Moore spoke, I teared up. I started to think about how his dad must have felt when Nathan said he was leaving home to pursue music. Was his dad supportive? Did he at times think he was a failure because he wasn’t on TV and singing to sold out arenas? Did Nathan at times question his own success? At this moment did Nathan’s dad finally understood what drove Nathan to shy away from a more traditional life and pursue his dreams? Had Nathan even known that his unique voice could be so powerful? Had the father and son come to an understanding and an even deeper connection? Was I really lucky enough to witness that?

As I continue on my own search of meaning and purpose, completely aware of how over-privledged and cliche of an act that even is, I keep thinking about that night at that campsite. Whether or not my questions were actually based in reality, they are starting to write a story for me about how I want to live my own life. What actions do I need to take to one day be surrounded by people I love, doing what I love because I can’t imagine doing anything else? And if I figure out what that is, will I have the courage to actually do it?

For now though, I kept my kazoo and if nothing else, I’ll have it as a souvenir to remind me that for one night, things made sense and I rocked out.

Photo by Andy Gadiel