Unusual sights and sounds

Virgin Fest Scene

August 11, 2008

Scenes from a placid, and occasionally offbeat, Virgin Fest:

On a sectioned-off side of the painting wall near the South Stage, Chad Brady is still plugging away at his tedious task, making a guitar mural entirely out of picks. When asked if he would finish the project yesterday, he could only answer, "I hope." Saturday was spent painting the guitar and gluing up some of the guitar picks that will eventually cover the whole thing. The mural will be auctioned off after the festival, and proceeds will go to the Woody Guthrie Foundation. Let's just hope some of the ominously looming clouds don't let loose, at least not before the glue dries.

- Alex Plimack, 2:13 p.m. yesterday

I nominate Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for Loudest Band on the North Stage this year. At least so far. Stone Temple Pilots will probably be louder. But none of Saturday's North Stage performers (Jack Johnson, Wilco, etc.) had much oomph. Maybe it was too early in the day, or maybe the crowd just wasn't feeling it, but most people just stood still and watched the BRMC do their thing. Sigh.

- Sam Sessa, 1:02 p.m. yesterday

The idea of walking around the infield of Pimlico sans shoes is a daunting proposition. Sandals are also risky, as the ratio of barefoot to coverage is minimal. But that hasn't stopped festivalgoers from abandoning their footwear in the name of comfort. "There's no glass; it's pretty clean," said Colin Marshall, 17, of Baldwin, who was with his friend Desmond Davis, 17, of Phoenix. The lack of shoes (and shirts) contributes to the festival atmosphere, according to Marshall. "I just feel like being free," he said. And brave, apparently.

- Alex Plimack, 1:01 p.m. yesterday

Festival promoter/producer Seth Hurwitz had a good day Saturday. The highlight? He got to play drums with Chuck Berry during "Johnny B. Goode." How did he land that gig? "I asked him," he said. I'm sure it helps if you're signing the check, too.

- Sam Sessa, 12:14 p.m. yesterday

Some of the interesting things I've seen: A woman hula-hooping in a loincloth. A man dancing in a cowboy hat, shaking his potbelly. The glimpse of his plumber's butt was optional. Baltimore's beloved burlesque performers Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey riding bikes, dressed in natty pink-and-black ensembles. A couple dressed as an angel and devil. She shook her pointy red tail as she walked; he held his wings with one hand. Gotta love a man who's not afraid to wear glitter.

- Julie Scharper, 5:52 p.m. Saturday

If Sunday's main headliner, Kanye West, is going to have one of his diva breakdowns, it will be over this. West's first name is spelled "Kayne" in the festival programs. "I'm sure he'll understand," said publicist Audrey Fix Schaefer. "I'm sure he's just excited to be here in Baltimore."

- Sam Sessa, 3:29 p.m. Saturday

So you can text message 73976, and your messages will appear above the stage. We saw these pithy statements flash above the stunning Ms. Chan Marshall of Cat Power as she crooned her signature sexy/angry tunes: "Fort Meade in da house," "I got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell" and "Pasadena MD, let me hear u scream."

- Julie Scharper, 1:59 p.m. Saturday

If anybody finds 20-year-old Jessi Ewing wandering around Virgin Festival, you know what to do. Along with friends Juli Liebig, 23, Julie Petrichenko, 20, and Duan Wright, 18, the Eastern Shore native is sporting a tie-dye T-shirt with the phone numbers for her friends - to call in case she is discovered passed out or lost. The crowd is pretty spread out right now, between the early hour, the two stages and tons of things to do in between. Police are confident that even when this place gets more crowded, they won't get too crazy. One officer told me there hasn't been an arrest in two years, and they don't expect any today either. What would it take to get locked up? "A violation of the law," he said dryly.

- Justin Fenton, 12:46 p.m. Saturday

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