By Bill Keitel
The 2014 U.S. Windsurfing National Championships are history and the city of Worthington is easing back to decompress. The UnVarnished Music Festival is of, by and for windsurfers and musicians. This year we put forth a devil-may-care attitude and started the opening night with Ray Wylie Hubbard (from Austin, TX.) Mr. Hubbard recently appeared on the David Letterman show. Ray Wylie Hubbard has a curious fan base that includes Mr. Letterman and also members of the Beatles! Yes, Ringo Star performed on his most recent CD.
Jalan Crossland opened for Hubbard. Jalan has recently received the Governors highest award of musical merit from the great state of Wyoming. I know what you are all thinking?… but please recognize that Wyoming has more proficient musicians per capita than most any place in the U.S. He cast some sort of musical spell over the audience, and then he was gone.
In amongst this mix were at least seven different serious media outlets from far flung places including Minnesota Public Television. They are intending to produce a feature film that is to be aired later this fall or winter. They stayed for a number of days and got great footage of sailing and music. They also did some in depth sailor interviews.
Ipso Facto was the Friday night headliner and they took the stage like musical storm troopers. They are the only U.S. Band to be invited to play the Sun Splash Festival in Jamaica. The majority of the band is comprised by the McFarlane brothers and they are products of a Mississippian mother and a Jamaican father. We were able to get them to come to this festival because Worthington is the town in which they grew up! It was a perfect blend of a Regatta & Reggae ReUnion! They turned Sailboard Beach into a tropical isle! Their musique’ still echoes in the bays and bayous of Lake Okabena.
A dozen or more musical entertainers performed during the week and it ended with a group called Ride. Ride is a blues band comprised of windsurfers. They have been instrumental in helping create this curious concept of sailing and music. Over the past two decades these sailors have sailed hard and in the evening they ease back and play music. Randy Johnson, the lead singer, harmonica and trumpet player is also known for having sold and distributed windsurfing equipment for the past few decades with an enterprise known as The House or Sailboard Warehouse. Today his son has taken over the business and they are known nationally for marketing all manner of board sports. Ride was the final act of the evening. They provided groove, mojo, and more soul than a size twelve sneaker.
Good winds, good racing, big sound, good music, too much food, Free Ride Beer (Alaskan brand name) and all the local hospitality that could be mustered. The city of Worthington and Worthington Okabena Windsurfers are beholden to the United States Windsurfing Association for allowing us this opportunity!
Don’t forget to check out Xavier Ferlet’s play-by-play of the racing action in Worthington: Inside the Ropes at the 2014 US Windsurfing Nationals!