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Day 1: We came, We saw, We got rained on, We rocked out.

Day 1: We came, We saw, We got rained on, We rocked out.

It was a crazy, wonderful, surprising, entertaining, and thrilling first day of the XPoNential Music Festival. JerseyArts.com was on hand, giving away an amazing weekend for 2 in Princeton via a surprisingly slick looking Plinko game.

Side note:I love Plinko--I have fond memories of college fundraisers in which a older, beaten-up Plinko board that looked like it remembered the Carter administration raised several hundred dollars for campus theater activities. That said, Discover Jersey Arts features a staunchly 21st century Plinko setup, and I strongly recommend you swing by the Jersey Arts booth at the Festival and play.

The play-by-play of the evening's adventures is available via our Twitter feed on the right--head on over to our twitter page to follow us in realtime throughout the weekend!

The summary of the day, in terms of the 5 biggest lessons learned.

5.A good band will always draw a crowd.

My first "wow" moment of the evening hit around 6:45, during The Good Old War's set on the JerseyArts.com River Stage. This locally-grown band has an amazing sound that evokes a little Sondre Lerche, the best of CSNY, and maybe even a touch of Dispatch. About fifteen minutes into set, the crowd tripled in size, and I spotted my first unabashed and spontaneous dance crowd of the evening-- six strangers banded together in a group shimmy of goofy joy that quickly quadrupled in size. And the eight-year old boy in front of us, dancing for all its worth to the music, kindasorta made my night. Like the rest of us, he was having a great time-- and he was unafraid to show it.

I miss being eight.

4.The great thing about multi-day Festivals is that you can bring the stuff you forget the next day.

Remember in my last entry, when I mentioned that we needed to pick up sunscreen? Yeah, not so much. Thankfully, the rain (see below) made that a nonissue in short order, but the little sun I did get made me a bit pink. Yes, folks, I was in the sun, in the early evening, under cloud cover, and got a slight sunburn. I am officially the palest thing alive.

All of that said, having a chance to walk around and see what the Festival had to offer really did prepare us for the next few days. The kit we'll pack for tomorrow and Sunday will be informed by today's lessons, and will include: sunscreen, sunglasses, a blanket for the lawn, umbrellas, a poncho or two, and Nalgene bottles--for XPN Members (proud member since 2006, right here!), XPN is offering complimentary water, Vitamin Water, and assorted juices, and invites everyone to go green and bring their own containers.

So, tomorrow, we come slightly better armed for an outdoor festival experience.

3. You can hear music and stories that blow your mind.

I'm still stuck in John Forte's later-evening performance, which drew me in for numerous reasons. There's not much I can say that can do it justice, other than his website, music, and story all combine into something beautiful, true, and awesome.

2. A little rain never hurt anyone.

Raegan said this to me when it began pouring; I kindly reminded her of the story of Noah and his big boat. Los Straightjackets (see tomorrow morning's entry) had their set interrupted by lightning and torrential rain--we all took cover for about twenty minutes, and emerged when the sun came out. Well, five minutes later, it started pouring even harder...and everyone kept on smiling, playing, and enjoying the Festival. It's just a little rain, after all; it can't stop the music.

1. Musical theater's loss is our gain.

Sarah Borges of Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles studied musical theatre in college; between her charm and the band's talent, she and her band had the full Festival crowd in attendance. At the end of the set, I turned to Raegan and said, "She's a rock star." They're already in heavy rotation on XPN, but they've got the talent, appeal, and tremendous live presence to be HUGE. It's going to be fun to watch their story unfold in the next few months. Thanks for reading, everyone! More to come tomorrow!

Day 2: It's a Beautiful Day in NJ...Day 3: Final Weekend Tallies

Day 2: It's a Beautiful Day in NJ...Day 3: Final Weekend Tallies

Opera Director John Hoomes

Opera Director John Hoomes