JOSHUA TREE “The Heart of the Matter” In Review

By Lisa Morgan

The crowd was smaller, the vendors were fewer, the band lineups and classes scaled down, but for those who attended, the experience was more than they could have dreamed. “We’ve always been smaller than your average festival. This year, we found out we could make it even smaller and have an even greater outcome,” shared the festival Founder/Producer, Barnett English. “Everyone seemed more grateful, happy and kind. They all showed up for each performance, instead of having to choose one over another. They went to the same classes together. They all went back to camp to make food at the same time. We all had a better shared experience.”

Upon arrival, the check-in process seemed well oiled. Patient and capable staff members were in charge. IDs, immunization and negative Covid test records were verified. For those who had purchased tickets but were uncomfortable attending, their tickets were rolled over to the next festival, no questions asked. Barnett will continue to offer that with the next festivals scheduled for May 12-15 and October 6-9, 2022, “because no one should feel stressed out or anxious here.” Barnett also plans continue forward with this more intimate, downsized approach. “This past festival, it was as if we all sat around the same campfire, singing the same songs. We want to make that happen again.” For Barnett, this is truly what dwells in “The Heart of the Matter.”

It was hard to tell who was more exhilarated to return to the festival after a hiatus of almost two years, the musicians, or the fans. It was a deep, almost overwhelming, cathartic, magic for all. Music shaman and performer, Mike Love, explained it best: “Music has healed me through so many dark times in my life, helped me celebrate the best of times, carried me through the grief and anxiety. I think if I asked each and everyone of you, you’d say the same thing. Music is, for me and so many of you, as essential to life as air, water, food. It’s a necessity. Music at its highest vibration is when we can come together and share it in this format. We can put it down on tape, and we can listen to it in our cars, or listen to it at home, but when it happens live, real and in the moment, it’s an energy that’s moving between all of us. We all take part in it. So, I come, and I play my songs, and they’re not my songs anymore. They become our songs. I feel the energy that you feel with each note that I play, and it comes back to me, and it makes me play and search for different notes, things that I haven’t felt before. I thank you for your energy.”

Next festivals scheduled for May 12-15 and October 6-9, 2022

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