Festival of the Great Unknowns

Here’s a music festival to add to your list of things to do immediately, as in tomorrow. Or, if you can’t swing that, keep it in mind for next year. It sort of fits between the Gadling’s unusual festivals of the World or the Massively Huge Summer Music Fest Round-up. I just heard about it myself, and if it weren’t for the Midwest, Oklahoma and Texas being so darned big, I’d hop in my car and head there myself.

If you’re in New Mexico and head to Albuquerque, I can guarantee you a great time at the Festival of the Great Unknowns. First, Deryle Perryman, one of the guys who is putting it on, is a true traveling spirit who inspires others to reach their own lofty goals-both figuratively and literally.

About 15 years ago, he and his wife Chris cashed in everything they had and hocked themselves to the hilt to start the Cornstalk Institute. Basically, it’s an alternative education center that celebrates the richness of the heritage of New Mexico, particularly the South Valley where it is located. It’s situated next to an arroyo that’s fed by the Rio Grande River and a place worth stopping by if you’re ever in town. The institute is not a classroom-centered place but one that incorporates outdoor adventure and traditional Native American-style gardening and story-telling. A high ropes course edges the apple orchard and an horno, a mud oven for baking and a teepee add to the ambiance. There is always something interesting going on, and I’m always delighted to hear what new thing Deryle is up to. Tomorrow is a case in point. Darn, I wish I could be there.

All day from 11 A.M. to midnight, the focus is musical folks who ought to be more famous. Yep, that sounds like Deryle. Here’s the line-up. I’ve linked the Web sites I could find, so, if you can’t catch them tomorrow, you’ll know where to find them in your own travels.

The musicians are from across the United States: Jeffrey Richards & the Bright Carvers, Cole Mitchell, the Ditch Dawgs and Daddy Long Loin; Greyhound Soul of Tucson, Arizona; Ken Valdez of Santa Fe; Rick Fowler of Red River; Jim Almand of Madrid; Emory Joseph of New York City; Karen Gruber and David Walton of Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Scott Chard of Edmond, Oklahoma; and Los Amigos del Valle of Valle de Sur in New Mexico.

Besides the music there will be food booths. If there are Navajo tacos, I’d order one. Basically, it’s a piece fry bread with taco fixin’s piled on top. The photo, as if you can’t tell, is a Navajo taco. Once you cross the New Mexico border, keep your eyes open. If you see a sign that says, “Navajo tacos,” pull over.

The festival is a spin-off of a documentary on Eddie Hinton that Deryle created, along with neighbor Moisés Gonzalez. The documentary, Dangerous Highway, highlights the life and work of Hinton, another unknown great who played with Elvis, Otis Redding and others. Deryle and Moisés decided that Hinton needs to be known and currently their idea is happening since the documentary is now on the film festival circuit and receiving positive feedback. (Here’s a post on the blog, Alabama Ass Whuppin’ that gives a rundown of the film. The photo is of Deryle and Moisés from the blog.)

The festival is a way to combine Derlye’s passion for music, Cornstalk and fun. If you happen to go, you could win Maybelline, a 1959 Pontiac Catalina, and a Stratocaster guitar signed by Eric Clapton and Robert Cray.

The festival pass is $30 for one person or $25 for two. You can also get tickets at Natural Sound or Bookworks or email cornstalkinstitute@yahoo.com.