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Dance to the Music

Last weekend I found a whole lot of peace of mind.

I wasn't in a favorite yoga class or at a meditation retreat or even sailing on Cazenovia Lake (though I do love to sail).

I was at the Newport Folk Festival in my home state Rhode Island listening to some of the best musicians in the world - Norah Jones, gospel legend Mavis Staples, guitarist Jack White, and Nickel Creek, a band whose mandolin player Chris Tile won a MacArthur Genius Grant worth $500,000.

Chris Tile and Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek play the main
stage at the Newport Folk Festival last weekend.

I went with my children, two of their friends and my partner Brett, who plays guitar.

And I got lost. Lost in the music. Lost in the dancing. Lost in time. Truly. For much of one afternoon I could not have told you if it were noon, 4 o'clock or dinner time.

Rodrigo Sanchez of the Mexican
guitar duo rodrigo y gabriela
So, how is it possible that a woman who doesn't care for crowds found peace amidst 10,000 people, most of them 20-somethings?

For starters, the music was fantastic. Band after band of great music.

That's what sets Newport apart from other festivals, according to my children. At many festivals, people go to party and musicians go to sell their newest albums.

At Newport, almost everyone goes for the music. Even the musicians. When they're not playing their own set or making guest appearances in someone else's - band members wander the festival and listen to the music just like the rest of us. It feels like one big family.

I have always loved music, I played guitar as a kid and sang in choruses well into my 30s. When my son was born, I had three children under the age of four and barely time for a shower, let alone music.

Gradually, the children brought music back into my life. Through the years they sang and played instruments - recorder, guitar, piano, African drums.

Rachel, Mari & Will still moving after Day 1 at Newport

Now teenagers, they have become music aficionados who listen to music passionately and attend concerts religiously. Going to Newport was their idea back in 2012. Now, it's an annual tradition. 

And I love it. When the music moves me - as it did with musicians such as the "Oh Hellos," "Trampled by Turtles" and Mavis Staples -  I stand up, close my eyes and dance. 

Grammy winner Mavis Staples, whose family band The Staples
Singers was the voice of the Civil Rights Movement in the
1960s, headlines the final day of the Newport Folk Festival.

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