Hazelnut Hangout Recap

It’s Tuesday and Lee and I are coming down from our Champagne/Margarita/Beer High from the Hazelnut Hangout this weekend.  I don’t know where exactly to begin, but I do know I need to apologize in advance for the length of this entry.  I have so many thoughts and memories from this weekend, and I hope I can do them justice and capture them accordingly.

I also want to apologize for the slight deviation in my presentation of this entry.  If you are reading about Lee’s and my experience at the Sister Hazel Hang Memorial Day Weekend for the first time, you can find a running blog from the weekend on my Haze Daze page.  If you’re a fellow nut and wondering why I posted the recap here, it’s because I want to introduce you to my personal blog page.  Some people would say I’m just manipulative that way, but it’s all good.

Okay.  So back to the recap.  I’ll begin with last night’s show, and I have to say that for me it was the best show of all three nights.  I guess it had something to do with the fact that there were not as many people there as there were on Saturday and Sunday.  I also think it had something to do with how much more relaxed the band was doing the show.  Yes, I know.  It’s hard to believe that Ken and the boys can be any more relaxed than they normally are, but they definitely brought it down a notch last night.

What I loved the most was the spontaneous rap session that broke out towards the end of the show.  Picture Ken in his typical fashion of interacting with the crowd just busting into Rapper’s Delight and La Di, Da Di.  Not only did he make a serious departure from his genre, he actually did a REALLY good job rapping and getting all the lyrics out.  As a result, I now have this mental image of Ken as a kid wearing parachute pants, a tank top, and a headband all the while break dancing on a flattened-out cardboard box.

I’m really pissed at myself because I had JUST stopped filming Ken’s performance before he reached down into his Run DMC roots.  I decided to film a little bit of Sunday’s show just to capture the essence of the concert, share it with friends, and hopefully make a few Nuts out of them.  I was able to get a solo performance of Out There on video as well as video of them performing One Time which will be released on their new album.  Please contact me if you’d like a copy, and don’t worry, Cheri, your copy of Out There is already on the way.

Another great moment was when the band performed Champagne High.  Well, they performed the second half of the song.  The first half was sung by Ken and the Block Flock.  He had the band hold off from playing until we sang through the first chorus of the song.  It was a flashback to the acoustical session Ken did for us on Sunday.  I think he was impressed and even taken aback somewhat by how harmonious a hundred dedicated fans can sound while singing the word ‘high’.  As an aside and staying with Sunday’s acoustic session, you have not lived until you’ve heard the country version of Your Mistake.

For those of you who have been to a Sister Hazel concert, I am sure you have heard them make reference to the corn dogs.  Well, at last night’s show, one of the waitresses from the Windjammer was sent up on stage with a tray of corndogs, ketchup and mustard.  It was too funny.  “Drew, your corn dog is ready!”  Ken handed them out to several hungry fans and made some remark about girth <laugh>.  It was a very classic moment.

The whole show, as well as the whole weekend, was sensational.  Yet I realize that all this time I neglected to mention Emerson Hart.  Emerson is the front man for the group Tonic, and he opened up for SH on Saturday and Sunday.   I will be honest and say that I know only two songs by Tonic, but the ones I do know I really, really like.  One of them is If You Can Only See.  Emerson went on to explain that he wrote that song because he was getting married and his mother was very much opposed to him doing so.  As a result, he went three years without speaking to his mother after he got married.  Sad story that resulted in such a beautiful song.  Isn’t that usually the case?

Which gets me to thinking about the absolute power of music.  After all, 200 or so relative strangers got together for 3 days in South Carolina because of music.  I think about the process of Ken, Drew, Mark, Ryan and Jett taking their personal experiences, putting those experiences down on paper and producing a song which, in turn, becomes an experience for someone else.  It’s beautiful, inspiring and breathtaking.  And if you’re a nut and have read my Anthem thread on the message boards, you know exactly what I mean.

It’s this feeling that drives me to write as much and as often as I can.  It’s the idea of someone reading my words and thinking to themselves, “Wow!”  It’s the possibility of helping a complete stranger because I took the time to document something that happened to me and make it available for the rest of the world to read.  What began as emotional therapy for me has evolved into a mechanism by which I can help myself and others.

And this is not a unique situation.  For me it’s writing.  For other people it’s a phone call or a text message or, believe it or not, a traditional, hand-written letter.  We all have ways of taking what is ours and sharing it with the people we care about.

Speaking of people I care about, that list got a little bit longer as a result of this weekend.  More important than the music or the beach or the time working on my tan are the new relationships that were formed and fostered over three days of celebration.  After last night’s show, Lee and I grabbed a bite at a nearby Waffle House with Robin, Abel, Kelly and Neil.  We were like lifelong friends sitting together talking and sharing melancholy thoughts about the fact the Hazelnut Hang had come to an end.  I will always look back at that snapshot in time as ‘our moment’, and I know with certainty that the six of us will share similar moments in the future.

And this future includes many, many more SH events.  Not only do Lee and I hope to take part in The Rock Boat and The Rock Slope some day, we know that as long as there is a Hazelnut Hang weekend, we will be there.  If there is a Sister Hazel concert within 300 miles from Tampa, we’ll most likely be there. And as Sister Hazel tries to grow the number of registered Hazelnuts from 9k to 30k, I know Lee and I will be there to help however we can.

Being a Hazelnut is, after all, a state of mind.  And any Nut can tell you, “If you’ve had enough of all your try’n, just give up the state of mind you’re in.”  Being a Hazelnut has also allowed me to find happiness in moments of pain and hope in times of despair.

If you’re not familiar or only peripherally familiar with Sister Hazel, I sincerely invite you to listen to the music, absorb the lyrics and ‘drink the Kool Aid’ if you will.  If you are a fellow Hazelnut, I want to thank you for being part of a community that makes everyday a lot more fun and exciting.  I wish I could thank everyone personally, but I’ve already gone on long enough. Actually, I would be remissed in not taking a moment to thank Ken.

Ken, thank you for continuing to be an inspiration, a role model and a hero to me.  Your sincerity, generosity and humility are unmatched, and I hope you know how many lives you’ve touched through your words and actions.  Thank you also for taking the time to make this weekend that much more memorable and personal for me.  These are memories I will surely never forget.  Enjoy the football <laugh> and GO ‘CANES!!  <ha ha … gotcha>

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