Home' Rhythms Magazine : RHYTHMS JULY AUGUST 2019 Contents 46
About 50 years ago I hopped into a VW van with a bunch of other
hippies on the way to The Atlanta International Pop Festival held in a
large field near Macon Georgia, trekking stoned the last two miles with
my backpack after traffic came to a crunch. Three days of unbearable
heat, some rain, mud, fights, little food and scarce water and I hitched
a ride back to my home in Atlanta worse for wear. I’d avoided getting
busted, freaking out on bad acid and wasn’t pushed or punched out by
one of the other 100,000 revellers.
Fast forward to late March this year and my festival experience as a
68-year-old was a polar opposite. This time, I was in Jamaica for a five-
day Little Feat Camp with only five bands.
Celebrating their 50th year and their 17th annual Island Gig they lured
me there after two weeks of working on SXSW in Austin. A two-hour
hop from Atlanta in First Class set the tone with plush comfort, spicy
rum drinks and upmarket seatmates. Yep, the entire pointy end was
bound for Montego Bay to be whisked through customs and bussed in
air-conditioned comfort 30 minutes to Melia Branco Resort which was
the one-stage venue for the week.
It was like the next stage of evolution from the VIP section and motor
home camping at Bonnaroo or Coachella and far better than a boat
cruise mini-festival where you can’t get off without a complex and
expensive return to ship or home-port. As Cameron Sears, manager
of Little Feat and former manager of the Grateful Dead states, “This
is the future of festivals for cashed up fans: like-minded adults, great
accommodation and privacy from deadbeats as well as all costs
included with a personal interaction with the band members.”
He should know as he heads up Island Gigs (www.islandgigs.com)
staging various sojourns of musical ensembles at a few choice
Caribbean hotels that are closed to outsiders for the duration. It’s
a specialised travel company that creates lasting experiences by
bringing together ‘kindred spirits’ in exclusive, interactive and intimate
environments. With over 25 years of travel expertise, their mission is
to provide a hassle free seamless experience, while watching some of
the best bands in the world in superb comfort.
Chairs on the lawn, feet in the sand in an uncrowded ‘nosh pit’, front-
of-stage wheelchair and disabled access, marquee bars and food
gratis, total security, comfort and no hassles smoking a joint. After all
this is Jamaica, mon!
Now this is my kind of festival. Only 500 people paying $3000 to
$8000 pp (depending on accommodation style) for the exclusive multi-
night shows excluding airfares but inclusive of luxury rooms and all
amenities. Though I don’t inhale the Holy Herb anymore, there was no
shortage of paralysing weed and many liquors were top shelf, not well
brands. The beer of choice was Red Stripe, the wines were superb and
there were specialty restaurants (Jamaican, Sushi, Steakhouse, Italian)
as well as imaginative buffets from dawn to two in the morning.
TRAVEL Q & A – GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV
What are your fave top / luxury hotels in Colorado?
I rarely stay in hotels in Colorado because I live here, but I love
camping in Colorado. Estes Park, Salida, Sand Dunes National
Park, and Telluride
Where would you take someone on a first visit to Colorado?
Anywhere in the Sangre De Christo Mountains, the Sand Dunes
National Park, fishing near Winter Park, Valley View Hot Springs,
climbing at Movement Climbing gym, veggie dogs at Mustard’s
Last Stand and Mcguckins Hardware.
The Hi-Dive, City O’ City, Cheeseman Park, The Denver Folklore
Center, and Syntax Physic Opera.
Favourite place to hike in Colorado?
I love the Annie E. White trail near Boulder and Heil Ranch trail.
Favourite off the beaten track place/ hideaway?
My favorite place to go see music and have dinner is The
Fave restaurants in Denver?
Root Down, The Watercourse, Sputnik, and Illegal Pete’s
The Meadowlark, Larimer Lounge, and Lion’s Lair.
Best cultural experience in Colorado?
Red Rocks Ampitheater, Telluride Mushroom Festival, Durango
Denver has one of the best music scenes in the country. There
are so many incredible venues. Some of my favorites, aside from
Red Rocks are The Gothic, The Ogden, and The Bluebird.
Where do you live and what’s great about it?
I live on a farm in Boulder County east of Boulder City. I love the
landscapes out here, the soil, the Cottonwood trees and the view
of the mountains.
Fave short drive / day trip?
Gold Hill Inn
Favourite outdoor activity in summer?
I run a vegetable farm and grow food for a few local restaurants
and a small farmers’ market. I love doing that, and taking a break
to go swimming in the Boulder Reservoir.
Gregory Alan Isakov’s latest album Evening Machines is out
now on Dualtone.
But the best part aside from the Music (Little Feat as a ten piece,
Lucinda Williams and Band, Midnight Ramble Band, Anders Osborne
and Vince Herman) was the audience. Many had come annually
with several couples I chatted having been 10-15 times. Others were
serial offenders, taking in a week of Govt Mule, Warren Haynes solo,
Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real, Devon Allman Project with
Duane Betts and following that a week later for a string of Hanson
(yes, THAT band who sell out practically instantly) who surprisingly
attract a lot of Aussies.
These are fans devoted to their bands and Cameron Sears books
stellar line-ups like The Dark Star Orchestra, String Cheese Incident
and various reggae stars. The punters are generally wealthy baby
boomers flying First Class and taking exotic tours during the day.
One excursion is an afternoon at Bob Marley’s estate and surrounds
in Trelawny; another is a rafting trip down a rushing river from
nearby mountains to a calm lagoon at the surf. There’s a tie-dying
class for your commemorative t-shirt, poster and album signing
with the bands, yoga and other craft or sport options. These are not
economy tourists who would take a walled in eighth deck cabin in
the bowels of a Blues Cruise or other multi-artist genre boat trips
trapped at sea for a week.
You awaken to the surf crashing at dawn in a large sumptuous room
or suite with free mini-bar restocked daily, amble down to your
choice breakfast restaurant for a leisurely meal then up to the pool
or beach a few steps away to nap, read, rehydrate with pina coladas,
margaritas or mocktails and count down to lunch.You couldn’t ask
for a more laid back group of friendly and fascinating folk, sharing
tales, welcoming back old mates from the pirate days (yes, there are
a few ex-smugglers and pilots here).
You never know who you’ll meet. The last morning I shared
breakfast with bassist Kenny Gradney who knew me from the first
show I did with the band in 1971 at Richards Nightclub in Atlanta. We
didn’t talk about music though and I didn’t ask his string choice or
pickup electronics. Instead, we chatted about his driving tour along
the East Coast of Australia with Billy Thorpe and Jimmy Barnes from
Brisbane to Bluesfest - all the way in a car to the Great Ocean Road.
We also compared solar systems and Tesla home batteries as well as
the best LED lighting options plus water collection and storage.
First night, I met a trio of billionaires who had rented out the entire
side of suites in the building closest to the stage (about 30 metres).
We snacked on fruit and treats (they were VERY stoned!) during
Lucinda’s eight o’clock set that evening and sampled the array of
trophy wines they had brought or shipped in. Then at ten, Little Feat
hit the stage as we virtually overhung it and marvelled at a band in
its prime in a perfect setting. Then on to the Grand Fine Champagne
Cognacs to round out the night as the set rumbled to two in the
morning. My room was across the resort but only a five-minute golf
cart ride away.
The ample stage is set right on the sand of a gorgeous beach with
killer sound and lights brought over from the US for the season.
Band members hung around the stage and mingled with the
audience, not having to contend with fanatic fans like a regular
This concept of an island getaway, offshore from the US with upper-
demographic music lovers, fine dining and endless hospitality may
not be the fest of old times but it is the gathering of the new tribe of
Fancy a trip to the Caribbean to spend
five days in a luxury resort with Little
Feat and Lucinda Williams?
Phil Tripp survived the experience and tells you all about it.
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