I am fairly certain that the band and crew are all slightly worried/annoyed whenever I am around. I have to admit, I would be scared if I had a stalker like me. I mean…I know I’m not dangerous and I don’t have any of their hair or old finger nails in a shrine in my closet (or whatever), but they have to assume I could. Maybe I can get Frank to hook something like that up for me…but I digress. As the lead up to moe.down 2010 began, I made a bold decision: Not only would I commit to making it to moe.down this year, I would go all out–I would run for mayor! Little did I know, it would be one of the most defining choices of my life. Hell…it’s eight years later and here I am, still writing about it. I mean…how obsessed do you have to be to crash a wedding photo shoot to get the bride to wear a sash and endorse my campaign?Some of you know how that first run for mayor went for me…but for those of you who don’t–I lost. But I didn’t let that first setback stop me. I returned and ran again the following year and, once again, I lost. Same thing the next year. And the year after that. I lost my first four attempts in a row, to a mixture of persons, places and things. I was beaten by a drunk Rage-raham Lincoln, a mash-up of Bob Weir and a wig supposedly made of Bob Weir’s hair, Gold Bond medicated talc powder, and even a ditch in the ground. Humbling, I know. I figured that the only thing left to beat me was a concept, like “an ever growing sense of ennui.” But after each loss, I just made new posters and signs and started over. I admit, I maybe took it a bit farther than most people would have. I got endorsements from bands I knew like Yonder Mountain String Band……Del McCoury and his Family Band plus Keller Williams……heck…I even got my friends to help me make a full campaign commercial!I’ve had a lot of folks ask me why I did what I did, and went as far as I did. Was it for the attention? Was it to help my fledgling career as a photographer, writer and filmmaker? Did I really, really enjoy making red, white, and blue signs? Did i just like turning people into walking billboards for my campaign? I’m sure all of those were factors. I mean…when Allie Kral (Yonder Mountain String Band) gets her own sash and wears it onstage, you know you’re doing something special…But the real reason was simple: it’s the most fun I have ever had. Taking the opportunity to spread the love of moe. as I worked at festivals around the country gave an extra purpose to what I was doing, and added a lot of extra fun. The number of folks with whom I have struck up conversations, made life-long friendships with as I stopped them and asked if they had “…ever heard if a band named moe.” still surprises me to this day. Eventually, people started making their own stickers, they started making me shirts. My good friend Franklin made a large crop of “Vote Rex” shirts out of a mixture of love and pity for my seemingly cursed quest to be mayor. Sure, I wanted to win…but the run was so much fun…The last few years have been exceptionally good years to be a moe.ron. The band is playing with as much fire as ever in their storied history. Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier both keep getting better and better every night, doggedly honing their already impressive abilities. I truly believe that they drive each other to be their absolute best every time they hit the stage. Rob Derhak is still smacking his bass with unhinged, raging passion. Vinnie Amico has manged to get even more precise on drums, and his partner in percussion Jim Loughlin has taken his mallet game to a whole new level.Their stellar play over the last few years has made the lack of moe.down a particularly sore spot for diehard fans. We’ve been eager to have a weekend where we can sit back and truly appreciate the mad genius that these five guys and their stellar crew make happen. Now, at long last, we are just days away from the return of moe.down and the election of a new mayor. I can only hope that, whoever makes it through that insane “election” process and assumes the coveted title has as much fun as I had along the way.It has been one of the singular honors of my life to serve as your representative and evangelist of the nation of moe.rons. I’ve gotten to know the guys in the band and the crew and been pleased to see that the music I is coming from such good and generous and loving people. I’ve roamed the country working for Live For Live Music and managed to catch them whenever and whenever I can, sharing photos, videos and stories for my constituents who could not make it to the party. Next week moe. and their friends in Fishbone, Railroad Earth, Twiddle, Organ Freeman, Kung Fu, Blackberry Smoke and plenty more will be gathering at snoe. ridge in Turin, New York for a ritual interrupted: moe.down. There is still time to get tickets, make some signs, and come join the insanity of the mayoral race yourself. Or you could just find yourself a good spot on the hill and spend the weekend watching the best band in the land play music for a packed crowd of their biggest fans. Both are valid choices…but I gotta say, if I had the chance to do it all over again…well obviously I would do it all over again! Thanks to Shellie for making my sashes, to Lonny for being such an asset to the community, and to all of you for letting me have all this fun. I can’t wait to see what you lunatics have up your sleeve for this years election! Good luck to all.Love, as always, your mayor (for one more week),Rex ThomsonYou can purchase tickets for next weekend’s moe.down, featuring performances by Fishbone, Railroad Earth, Twiddle, Organ Freeman, Kung Fu, Blackberry Smoke and, of course, 7 sets of moe., at this link. For more information, and a full weekend schedule, head to the event website. According to moe.down Music Festival tradition, on the last night of the festival one lucky person, place, thing or even concept will make it through several rounds of crowd volume votes to be elected to the coveted office of ‘mayor of moe.ville.’ The last moe.down, in 2014, saw Live For Live Music’s Rex Thomson elected “mayor,” a title he has proudly held for three years during the festival’s extended hiatus. As thousands of die-hard fans from around the world descend on upstate New York for the return of moe.down next weekend, the sitting moe.down mayor reflects on his “term,” remembers the journey it took to win the “election” in the first place, and offers some parting thoughts for his “constituents” in an open letter to moe.rons everywhere:My fellow moe.rons, our long national nightmare has at last ended. One week from today, the moe.down Music Festival returns for its long-awaited 16th edition! I know I speak for all of us when I say “Hallelujah!” We are once again going to bask in three days of our favorite band playing four plus hours a night. No longer will we be stuck pondering the jams we might have heard. When I started my mad quest to be your mayor in 2014, I never anticipated the fact that my term would be the longest in moe.ville mayoral history. With no moe.down, there has been no new vote–a period of martial moe. law, if you will.While my administration has had many peaks and valleys over the last few years, no moments were lower than the passing of the last two summers without our annual gathering of friendship, famoe.ly and, moe.st importantly, three days of moe. in Turin! I never lost sight of my dream to see us all reunited on the hill, waiting for that first note to sound. And now, in just one short week, we will at last gather together to hear just that. The joy we all feel when our beloved band segues from one epic tune to the next in their signature free-form style will once again electrify us all as a whole–as a famoe.ly.Over the course of my three years as your mayor, I have strived to live up to my original inspiration to run for the coveted office. Though my memoe.ry is not what it once was, I can clearly remember the moe.ment when I decided to seek this illustrious position. As moe.down 2008 drew to a close, the band announced plans to take a hiatus of indeterminate length. I was devastated as I listened to that dreadful announcement from afar during the simulcast. As a Midwest native, I had never made it to the promised land of moe.ville, and I worried that this “promised land” would fade from existence before i could land my feet on its fertile grounds. As moe. closed the fest with a rousing rendition of Monty Python‘s “Always Look To The Bright Side Of Life,” I swore that if the band returned, I wouldn’t miss another chance to see them. Today, as I approach my 250th show, I know I have kept that solemn oath. I’m not alone in my deep love for moe. Not by a long shot. As many shows as I have seen, there are plenty of folks with bigger totals. moe.’s mixture of amazing musicianship, stellar improvisational skills and the ability to touch on topics across the spectrum of human thought is singularly impressive. Beyond that the camaraderie among the most dedicated fans–or moe.rons, as we are affectionately known–transcend simple friendship and move into the realm of famoe.ly.My efforts in 2009 to make it to moe.down fell through, thanks to various medical maladies, but although my health has been known to knock me down at times, I’ve continued to fight to keep myself not only on this side of the grave but on my feet and rocking. In all my struggles, there has been no light brighter, no force more inspiring than the five guys named moe. and the music they make.