Hinterland: A Musical Adventure in Mother-Daughter Bonding

Hinterland: A Musical Adventure in Mother-Daughter Bonding

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Hinterland: A Musical Adventure in Mother-Daughter Bonding

Give me a full weekend of outdoor live music, on-site camping, access to fantastic local food trucks, and well maintained port-a-potties, and I am one happy girl!

Hinterland is an annual August music festival held just a short drive from the Des Moines, IA metro. With a strong undertone of modern folk/americana and country/southern rock, bands that live in my preferred genres, the line-up often includes a few indie rock/electronica acts and up and coming artists who often can’t be neatly categorized into one solid genre.

I attended my first Hinterland in 2016 with my husband. He’s not much of a music festival guy but I talked him into going with me because...Willie Nelson. We had a nice experience, shuttling back and forth from the venue to our home 40 miles away each day, but for him attending once was enough. I, on the other hand, wanted to not only to attend again, and I REALLY wanted to take advantage of the ease of accessing the festival grounds from the on-site camping. So, being that the festival is family friendly, and I was pretty sure she would love the music part of the experience even if she didn’t enjoy the camping part of the weekend as much, I decided to drag my oldest daughter along with me for the 2017 weekend. While I knew we’d have some great musical memories to share from the experience, what I’ve come to value the most from our shared Hinterland weekends is so much more than I expected.

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Soundtracks, in my opinion, are not just for movies. Memories for me are often tied to the sounds that surrounded me during their making. It was my Mom who planted the seeds for my love of music, even though I don’t know that she did so consciously. I remember her regularly lifting a stack of vinyls to the top of the center spindle of the turntable in our GIANT wood console stereo to start the Saturday morning house cleaning routine.

I loved the sound that old console (complete with radio and 8-track capabilities) pushed out. Those songs are some of the first that were added to the soundtrack of my life, which now spans overs 4 decades of songs from just about every genre imaginable. Songs that as soon as I hear them send me back to a different age full of memories and feelings and experiences that have all been part of molding the person I am today.

It was mostly recorded music that fills most of my earliest memories. I can count on 1 hand (and I don’t need very many fingers) the number of live music experiences that left a memorable impact on my childhood. It wasn’t until the freedom of college, and admittedly a bit of a naive approach to financial responsibility, that I started to more regularly experience and appreciate live music. From local bands playing little dive bars, to morning coffee shop performances by emerging artist, to arena concerts by world famous artists, experiencing live music has become one of my greatest joys.

(Side note. I am actually a horrible music lover in terms of A) Knowing the names of bands or their specific songs, even of the bands I love and listen to on a regular basis, and B) purposefully exploring new artists. When I do add a “new” artist to my list of favorites, there is a good chance he/she/they have been part of the music scene for quite a long while.)

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I have 2 daughters. My oldest, Lexi, will be turning 17 this coming fall and my youngest, Brea, turned 12 this past spring. It makes my heart smile to realize how much music has become an important part of their young lives.

As each of us continue to gather our own collection of experiences and memories, it brings me so much joy to know some of them will share the same background soundtrack. As a family we’ve enjoyed morning coffee shop artist performances and small town live music events in the park. Our girls have danced on the street corners to musicians playing at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. They’ve experienced symphony performances and broadway musicals and even a few large scale concerts. Both are active in music programming at school and my oldest daughter has found her niche (or at least 1 of them) through music. As a concert oboist and jazz/pep band bass player, her spirit shines when she is immersed in pages of sheet music.

Generally speaking, it’s easy to form bonds with our kids when they are young. Often they are our constant little companions as we go through the daily routines of life: cooking, shopping, traveling, going to the bathroom. (Admit it, if you’re a mom, or even an auntie, you’ve probably had the audience of a toddler while you were peeing at least once.).

At the time that I was immersed in all that togetherness, I don’t think I truly appreciated how it also allowed for casual conversations to be shared regularly. Conversations that at times were just about what my kids would prefer for dinner or how their favorite color had changed, but also about friendships and worries and interests and questions about the greater world around them.

As Lexi started to venture into her early teen years, I found it harder and harder to both allow her the space she needed to start to flex her independence and find time for casual meaningful conversation. Too many times, due to the busyness of a family schedule, conversations were often limited to simply the necessary ones. Those that were needed to share schedule details of what she was doing when and where, and if she needed the mom taxi. And, unfortunately, the not so fun discussions that result from the need to deal with “issues”.

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On one hand, most of the conversations were simply logistical in nature and very low on the emotional involvement scale. On the other, many emotions were usually involved in the “issues” kind of conversations for all parties involved. The frequent casual conversations that once dominated my relationship with her had, over time, become rare gems but the need for them had not changed.

Sharing the Hinterland experience with Lexi over the past 2 years has been super fun, but maybe even more important to me is that it has provided a fun and relaxed environment that encourages the casual exchange of thoughts, ideas, stresses and joys. It unplugs us both from the modern world of cell phones and TVs and constant connection, availability, and responsibility.

It’s been fun to discover new artists with her and to learn more about where our tastes overlap, both in terms of music and food truck vendors. (She’s a terribly picky eater. I like flavor, and lots of it!)  It’s also sparked some really great, and often important, conversations. Example: The first time the smell of pot smoke drifted our way I was a bit relieved that at 15 she had no idea what she was smelling, she just knew it wasn’t just cigarette smoke. But it also opened the door for us to talk about her knowledge and views on the types of substances that are commonly used by her fellow high-school students.

We’ve also had the joy of sharing our camping spot with a couple of ladies over the past 2 years who fall in age between Lexi and I, who’ve contributed different perspectives during our many campground hang-out conversations. They’ve been a nice constant in the ever changing weekend community with whom we connect each year. I feel like those connections with known and unknown people throughout the weekend not only enrich our experience each year, but are a wonderful way to model for my daughter how community connections are made as she grows ever closer to the independence of adulthood herself.

Hinterland 2019 is already on our mental calendar for next August and we’ve started to explore other music festivals that we can put on our festival wish list for future adventures. My youngest daughter has started bugging us to let her join us next year for the weekend, and even though I know Lexi enjoys her time away with me alone, I don’t think it will take much to wear me down to the point of purchasing 3 tickets next summer.

Life can get so incredibly busy and my girls’ childhoods are drawing ever closer to young adulthood. I’m so thankful for the small adventure of Hinterland that allows us to slow down, be in the moment with each other, throw our cares to the wind for a weekend, and dance to the ever growing soundtrack of our lives.

Lexi’s thoughts on Hinterland


I’ve gone to Hinterland two years in a row now, camping both times, just my momma and me. I really enjoy the entire atmosphere, and just the general bonding time I get with Mom and our regular festival friends. Unfortunately, being a teenager, there isn’t much of an opportunity to meet new people my age. I see someone young looking, and they’re wearing a beer tent bracelet… or there’s the polar opposite. Lots of families bring their young kids who run around screaming and dancing the days away.

One thing about Hinterland I’ve come to enjoy is the disconnection. I have a hard time doing it myself at home, but a full weekend with no WiFi and questionable cell service is relaxing. No AC or showers, so I just gotta embrace the heat and dirt, and the inevitable greasy hair after two days of sweating and sleeping in a tent. People-watching is my weekend Netflix, with live music and chit-chat the constant background radio station.

The people-watching is honestly my favorite part. In the mornings while breakfast is being eaten out of our cooler or made in our coffee pot (a crucial start to the day), sitting in the campgrounds is all spectating kids playing. On Friday we watch people put up tents; a hilarious show to watch when people regularly don’t know what they’re doing. In the valley where the stage is, people try and try again to blow up their air sofas to sit in, and get steadily more intoxicated into the afternoon.

I adore Hinterland and all the dorky conversations Mom, our friends, and I get to have. I love the music, which is usually a little different from what I’d listen to normally, I love the hippie vibe, and the food. Its something I get to look forward to every August and know I’ll love it and have a great time. In the end though, that shower at home feels fantastic.


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