Joey and I (pictured here, among a bevy of women during our freshman year of college) met under convenient circumstances, having been selected as roommates in our inaugural semesters at Susquehanna University. This pairing was not exactly random; during the summer preceding our arrival, we were issued brief surveys which included some lifestyle questions, such as, "How late do you stay up," "Do you drink" and "What kinds of music do you like/dislike."
So I filled it out and sent it in, and come school time, they stuck us together in Smith 319. And sure enough, Joey turned out to be a late-nighter, drinker, messy room occupant and fan of the same great music that I generally enjoyed as well. Really, the only difference was the fact that I scored 10 points higher on my SAT's than Joey did, which I will never, ever let him live down. But we spent that year living (generally) peacefully and harmoniously, aside from Joey's brain-melting snoring at night, and enjoyed plenty of good music in our room, from Pink Floyd to the Grateful Dead, to a Dave Matthews solo album that Joey turned me on to. I never really caught that pesky DMB bug, thank god.

Eventually we moved out but stayed friends, and somehow became concert buddies somewhere along the line. I can't remember the first show we went to together, but the most memorable by far was Gratefulfest (at right).

Gratefulfest is an annual music festival held every summer at beautiful Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Garrettsville, Oh. The one we attended in 2006 was, I believe, the seventh of its kind. The headlining band was Dark Star Orchestra, a magnificent band dedicated to recreating the Grateful Dead experience through song and style, playing four full shows during the festival. Other acts included Keller Williams, Rusted Root, David Gans and plenty more artists playing music written, performed or inspired by the Grateful Dead.

In the meanwhile, this festival takes place on some of the most beautiful grounds of sand, quarry and woods that you'll ever come across. The campsites are packed, overfilled with people my age, families with children, old men with tie dye and everyone else imaginable. The whole ordeal takes up the better part of a week, so for a lot of these people (myself included), this was their summer vacation. So everyone was just so happy to be there.
I've been back once since then, and Joey and Sarah have gone to a few other festivals since then. But this summer, with a trip across the country ahead of us and plenty of time to spread around among specified locales, we're going to be on the hunt for music like it's our job.
Of course, obstacles arise to this effect, such as the price of attendance, and the difficulty of hitting an event at just the right time in just the right place. Sure, we might pull a few strings here and there, but we can't venture too far out of our way. We've got places to be, for cryin' out loud.
In the months to come, we'll be wrapping up a tentative schedule of when we'll be where, and wait for concerts, festivals and shindigs of a similar nature to be announced - all the while, with our fingers crossed, of course. We'll keep you posted.

-Tom Stanley

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