The Climax Festival
It all started in May of 1983. We had rented the old schoolhouse in Climax, Kansas for the Memorial Day weekend, and asked every musician we could think of to drive hours away from their homes and come to a party the likes of which had never been tried before. In the kitchen of the schoolhouse was a dedicated recording studio, just waiting for a group of musicians and a little bit of magic.
Saturday morning, the two people that had shown up and myself were wondering if anything was really going to happen in that very empty schoolyard in Climax. Then one by one, tents appeared, and before we knew it there was a crowd of about 130 people and a LOT of magic. What happened then is now history, fondly remembered by everyone who was there, and only partially recorded in the resulting 80 minute cassette album featuring many of the best "grassroots" musicians in the midwest.
In 1984, we tried to re-create the magic and even take it up a notch. We set up a more professional studio in a private, secluded home north of Lawrence, and built a giant "big top" tent in a beautiful sunken meadow. The tent was a really good idea, it turns out, as that year we had something like 9 consecutive weekends of hard rain, and our festival was of course on the last one! But music lovers are a determined bunch, and over 250 people came to show that they weren't gonna let a little torrential rain and mud stand between them and a good time. Ramona Studios of Lawrence provided the equipment and sound engineering, and another epic album was created featuring nearly 50 musicians. (Selections from both albums are available for download on this site.)
Two years later, after recovering from the ordeals and financial losses of the '84 festival, we threw a less ambitious Climax Festival, once again at the old schoolhouse. No recording was conducted, but the friends who came enjoyed another fun weekend of picking and comraderie. The fact that this turned out to be the last Climax Festival may have had something to do with some locals who thought it would be fun to joyride their pickup through the campground late at night where campers were sleeping under the stars coming mere inches from killing people. We still shudder about that one.
The 25 Year Climax Reunion!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
7:00pm - 1:30am, Jackpot Saloon, Downtown Lawrence
$5 over 21, $7 under 21
For full details, see the HOME page