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September 18th, 2023 · 12 Comments · Merry Pranksters, Music, Real-life Adventure Tales



photo by Christy Worsoe


Imagine, if you will, a place where music and love fill the air, and every person works for free to build a utopian kingdom.

Imagine a secret island hideaway whose location is only shared to people who’ve earned an invitation by a lifetime of good deeds.

Imagine a wonderland forest filled with fluttering fairies and giggling mystics who make magic happen with the tap of a wand.

Fantasylands do exist beyond fiction and films — where living breathing human beings practice the supernatural for the benefit of all.

I was invited to such a place and can confirm its existence if not its location.  I remember tall trees and a lake.  I remember wandering for hours through campsites so elaborate you’d think they’d been built over months, not in a day.  I remember multiple stages — from the base of a Yasgur’s farm-like natural amphitheater to hidden-away cabanas in the woods on the edge of cliffs with a dozen master musicians playing together in one-time-ever ensembles sharing Marley and Dylan and the Beatles and the Dead.

I saw an army of carpenters — not a one of them paid — building out of a love of creation a giant stage befitting a dream — then breaking it all down in one afternoon so we could scatter and leave no clue anyone was ever there.  I saw the best minds of my generation forging friendships out of thin air that change lives forever, and crafting art that changed perception in the present.  I saw costumes that coulda been in blockbuster movies, brought from a thousand closets, envisioned for a year, sown and woven together, from Dr. Seuss hats & lit-up umbrellas to painted feet & Gandalf staffs.

The first two hours, I walked around jaw-dropped, unable to speak.  I heard the best music ever recorded wafting over the lands from giant sound systems to homey campsites.  I met the friendliest people beaming like they’d just drank from the fountain of ecstasy and were sharing their joy breathlessly.  I spoke to the ghosts of Bill Graham and Jerry Garcia and they were just as ebullient as you’d imagine they’d be.

And if all this magic had a source, I noticed an inordinate number of Irish leprechauns seeming to be in charge.  The Irish — the poets — the pranksters of history.  The playful, the giggling, the masters of mischievous — the spinners of language and tellers of tales — the roaming mistrals of old playing songs in the present to collectives of children no matter their age.

I jammed with 90-year-olds and 9-year-olds and couldn’t tell the difference.  I talked old verities with teenagers and young music with seniors.  I saw a 12-year-old boy buy Abbey Road from a box of old albums and walk down the path staring wide-eyed into its cover like all us old-timers grew up doing.  I talked to people who long ago brought their young children to this . . . and now were there with their grandchildren.


Imagine a festival where every penny of the ticket sales is given to charities for kids with special needs — to help not only the children but their parents as well.

Imagine a festival where everyone from the rock star performers back stage to the front gate ticket-takers were equally as friendly — and equally paid not a cent.

Imagine all the people sharing all the work, living for today, and living life in peace.  You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.


Soundswell on the main stage — photo by Joel Werner



For another account of a euphoric festival check out my book Holy Cats!  Dream-catching at Woodstock ’94.

Or the annual Jack Fest — Lowell Celebrates Kerouac — also evokes the same love of humanity.

Or here’s the same kind of scene created by the Merry Pranksters in an undisclosed location in the Midwest.



by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

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12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dale Topham // Sep 18, 2023 at 6:06 PM

    No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine weaving in and out of the “Imagine” riff!
    So beautiful and poetically created by one of the best and beat-est wordsmiths on the scene today!
    Thank you, Brian.

  • 2 Pete Carbocci // Sep 18, 2023 at 7:06 PM

    So Beautiful, my friend! You’ve captured the magic of this mythical festival so well. Honored to share space and spend time with you.

  • 3 Ashlee Rosko // Sep 18, 2023 at 7:34 PM

    Take me in your pocket next time!

  • 4 Steve Mall // Sep 18, 2023 at 9:29 PM

    Glad you enjoyed it so. We appreciated your performance and your testimony. Happy Bradstock, friend.
    Steve from Soundswell.

  • 5 Chris Leon // Sep 18, 2023 at 11:59 PM

    Well said. You have captured the spirit, fellowship & joy this festival has been bringing for 30 years. We hope to see you next year.

  • 6 Kevin Twigg // Sep 19, 2023 at 5:32 PM


  • 7 Keenan Boyle // Sep 19, 2023 at 9:41 PM

    “Happy Bradstock!”

  • 8 Mary Messier // Sep 19, 2023 at 10:52 PM

    Very inspiring! Yes, please.

  • 9 Will Hodgson // Sep 20, 2023 at 4:41 PM

    Nice piece about a trip to Utopia. Please take me with you next time. 🙂

  • 10 Walter Raubicheck // Sep 22, 2023 at 6:45 PM

    SO happy read the new piece. Keep on keeping on, Brian … you’ve got IT and we’re all lucky that you share it with us.

  • 11 Denise Fischer // Sep 24, 2023 at 10:39 PM

    A beautiful piece expressing an amazing find.

  • 12 Elizabeth Crowley // Feb 3, 2024 at 10:36 PM

    I wanna be there… ❤️☮️

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