Dixon, Illinois, known for: Chief Black Hawk…Rock River…Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home…and now–the location of Mumford and Son’s only camping stopover on our favorite band’s Gentlemen of the Road Tour…oh, AND…
…our weekend excursion, affectionately dubbed our Gentlewomen of the Road trip (apologies to my husband who put up with wife and step-daughter in a tent for two nights. Once we got it up that is.)
My daughter and I love the band, and we had the perfect opportunity to see them live since Dixon is only a couple of hours from the Chicago area. Seeing them perform, seeing the effect their music had on 15,000 people simultaneously, changed my perspective and deepened my appreciation for their psalm-like lyrics and melodies.
So, why Dixon of all places?
The band’s mission was to bring business to various towns; Dixon’s main claim to fame being that it is the birthplace of Ronald Regan. As we inundated their bookstores and coffee shops and boutiques, they smiled and treated us like regulars, some striking up conversations about where we were from, as if Chicago just two hours away was some exotic locale.
Every time I travel with my daughters, we look forward most to talking to the people we meet. The lady whose antique store is her retirement; the banjo player sitting on the curb whose goals are to overcome every one of her fears, including singing in public; the consignment shop owner whose clipboard keeps record of the weekend visitors because he just wants “to see how far everyone has come.” And come we have, from as far as Canada, the 15,000 of us doubling the size of Dixon.
Despite some crowd control/transportation issues following the Saturday night concert and an inadequate number of garbage cans and (blech) port-a-johns, especially at our campground of 3,000, we chalked it up to “an experience” and a “spiritual” one at that.
One of the leaders of the Christian campground that put up with our Jameson and Red Bull binging, singing drunkenly into the wee hours group said that waking up surrounded by thousands of concert goers was a culture shock. OK, so we stayed tucked in our tent with pillows over are heads while the revelries and abominations (as my husband called them) transpired, but my daughter and I liked the idea of playing some small part in being a “culture shock.”
The concert featured bands I hadn’t heard of, although Gogol Bordello, a gypsy punk band (yeah, that’s right), got my daughter and I hopping and jumping and clapping and whooping to the point that the lovely couple from St. Louis sitting on the grass next to us thought we were faithful followers. “Nope, came here for Mumford…we’re just excitable.”
Travel is usually about a location, not simply getting to point B to attend a specific event, but the band’s mission to showcase a small Midwestern town along their own journey was accomplished as we enjoyed what Dixon had to offer, kind people, the Baker Street coffeehouse and cafe, and Jack Ass BBQ. And, of course, an amazing Mumford and Sons performance.
Thanks for hitting the road with us.