Tuning in … Greg Pettys wails a solo song in a house full of soul and bread.
Just when you thought we were safely out of the ’60s, along comes another generation glomming onto some of the love, peace and music concepts idealistically developed back in our various decade-long delusional altered states.
Although it wasn’t the hippies that conceptualized communal living with all-night jam sessions. Sharing space, women and food was advocated in recorded 5th-century Persia, where Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion, with doctrines encouraging its followers to take delight in life’s pleasures — eating, drinking, friendship, love without domination, no war or bloodshed and an open-home policy for all who needed shelter from the storm.
Persian reformer Mazdak carried the “share-the-wealth” ideology into the 6th century and professed that vegetarianism and free love was the way. Fast forward to late-19th century Germany, where Der Wandervogel (translated as rambling, hiking or wandering bird … yes, the original Freebird) emphasized amateur music and singing, unorthodox clothes and getting back to nature and was probably most influential to the ’60s hippie movement.
The ’60s band houses were a communal concept, where musicians ate, slept, worked and played together to maximize the creativity and share the joy of an uninhibited life. But the reality was usually quite different, especially if you had to have a day job and you’d come home to find your food stash in the refrigerator consumed by the guitarist who strummed all day and smoked all your weed. However, all trespasses were later forgiven through music and endless passing of the peace pipe.
Many of the neo-hippie musicians today are the spawn of their grandparents’ culture. Dreadheaded, long-haired, organic bio-musicians living in peace and harmonies under the same roof and sharing a healthier lifestyle through drumming circles, dance, yoga and musical dedication. In a rambling drafty house that was once a mountain bar from the old mining days in Crested Butte, a clan of seven mostly musicians live with Walter the dog. And recently, Eli the Kundalini yoga instructor, who was friend of a friend of a friend, moved in behind the still-intact original bar at the far end of the living room. They are referred to as the bread mafia, since most of the household members also help run their business, Mountain Oven (mountainoven.com), whose mission is “ … to bake delicious and wholesome goods for our community with creativity and love.” A package deal of soul food, music and a sense of extended family.
Lizzy Plotkin, mandolin player, fiddler and vocalist, says they’re all in about four bands (one of which is The Wild), in addition to the live-in ongoing jams. They’re melding music. Housemate Greg Pettys, who wails on horn and guitar, explains the incestuous nature of the commune. “We share each other lovingly. We have to, it’s a small town.” He also acknowledges that the love of learning to play multiple instruments is born of necessity. If they need a bass player, someone will pick up a bass and learn it. They all sing. “Like the Jack of all trades you have to be to live here in this town, it’s survival,” he claims. “We moved into this house as musicians, but we didn’t play together until recently.” Greg says the musical clan was initiated to relive stress. “We’re always working, living and loving together and the music is nice therapy. Everyone gets along when we start playing music.”
Another member of the Mountain Oven household is Jonathan Brown, who has seen four winters in Crested Butte. “I’m teaching myself keys so I can be in a loud dirty band with a friend,” he says, adding that he’s encouraged and inspired by his housemates. “All struggle is creative and an impetus for new art and intentional living. It’s a single house but it spreads to multiple houses.” Brown notes there are two other music houses on their street. “Everyone pooling energy, food, talents and skills to raise the bar. It makes it easier, providing more free time to allow people to devote themselves to whatever inspires them and feeds their soul.”
As for the healthier lifestyle, they all claim to save the acid for Vinotok, the local pagan autumnal festival. It’s just nice to know that the culture of love, peace, music and homemade bread is still alive and cookin’. Carry on.
Dawne Belloise is a freelance writer, photographer and vocalist who has lived communally in many hippie band houses throughout cosmos. She is currently hitting the open road with her guitar, 20 lb cat and a bird named Spike. Email firstname.lastname@example.org