Of the twenty-something intermittent years I’ve lived in Sacramento, this was my first appearance at the Dixon May Fair. I was a little nervous being a DMF virgin but it turned out to be an oddly unforgettable experience. As the saying goes, “You never forget your first time.”
The fair grounds are pleasantly placed in the middle of what I’d dub the suburbs of Dixon. This is because it was the only part of town that wasn’t dedicated solely to farm land. We parked our car in front of someone’s house and just walked right across the street to the entrance. No lines and no paid parking; already a winning situation.
To get to the amphitheater we had to walk from one side of the fairgrounds to the other, which took us approximately 3 minutes. We stopped and drank a couple beers which were also amazing because they were only $4 instead of the typical $9 beers one gets at most fairs. It was just one perk after another!
I missed the first band because I was busy drinking beer but happened to enter the amphitheater right as The English Beat came on stage. Perfect! The first thing I notice is the rows of fold-up chairs that have been zip tied together as a means of crowd control. I guess I can’t blame security for that one. Afterall, Snoop Dogg did play the night before and the crowd was about 8 times the size it was tonight.
We tried finding a place to dance but the chairs were really cramping our style. No room for skanking at all. We tried pushing a few rows out the way and security told us to stop. We tried dancing in the aisles; thwarted again. Then, all of a sudden, we notice security relaxing right at the front of the stage where there’s no chairs because so many people were insistent on dancing.
Thank you woman with the glitter shirt doing interpretive dance and her punk rock boyfriend in plaid pants for breaking security down! We joined them along with a host of the most diverse crowd I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, The English Beat was kicking ass at this point in the show with one hit after another, but that crowd was worth stopping to check out.
Looking around at the folks around me I saw a group of stoner cowboys fresh off the farm that had a member who looked oddly like Larry the Cable guy, mom/dad and the kids were there, punk rockers in their 40’s who never left the 1980’s, that guy on acid, a creepy old guy who did some sort of mating dance for me by gyrating and rubbing his hands on his face (maybe he thought he was at an Mac Dre concert?), and a Don Johnson look-alike. Needless to say, it was amazing!
At this point I hear the guitar riff for “Hand off… She’s mine” and one thing is certain, Dave Wakeling of The English Beat is in his element on stage in front of a crowd; even if it’s in Dixon with the funkiest crowd of people to ever come together in America. There’s nothing like an artist who truly enjoys entertaining people and Wakeling clearly loves his job.
As the band worked their way through one hit after another the crowd just kept on grooving. Wakeling pulled together an amazing group of artists to tour with him; most notably the 17 year old Asian kid rocking the keyboards at the back of the stage. He had a Justin Bieber hairdo and this pseudo-Elvis lip thing going on as he pounded the keys… it was epic. The whole band was having a great time on stage.
My personal favorite, “Mirror in the Bathroom,” came on next and I just about died. That bass line… that sax…. Wakeling’s voice… the funkiest crowd in America… Maybe that creepy old guy was on to something because at this point we were all feeling ourselves, just skanking and grooving.
When they left stage, it felt too soon. It was only 10 o’clock and I wanted more. Me and the stoner cowboys chanted and hoped they would come back out but I guess after all these years of touring egos mellow out and one gets comfortable knowing when to walk away. Luckily I had a buddy working the event and we got to continue the party with the band backstage.
Wakeling is equally as cool in-person as he is on stage; very personable and clearly loving life. Most of the other band members were gone by this point so it was just Wakeling hanging out with us and the DMF crew. We sat in a circle on some lawn chairs by the tour busses listening to Wakeling tell a story about the time he almost met Kurt Cobain while we passed around some left over weed from Snoop Dogg’s crew. Did I mention we smoked out of Sprite can?
Dixon May Fair I love thee!