Sparkleberry Lane http://sparkleberrylane.com Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:18:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Festival Preview: ARISE 2014 http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/arise-2014-festival-preview/ http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/arise-2014-festival-preview/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 22:14:15 +0000 http://sparkleberrylane.com/?p=8965 A Preview for ARISE Music Festival Loveland, CO August 8th-10th, 2014 Written by Matthew Cocinero I can barely contain the bubbling energy inside me! It’s a side effect of the recent realization that I will soon be returning to the beautiful Colorado landscape for another incredible and refreshing co-created event.  For the second year, Arise Music Festival will be returning to Sunrise Ranch, which is nestled in the stunning foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Loveland, CO. From August 8-10, the spanning acres of Sunrise Ranch will be flourishing with many bright souls that will all be sharing this creative and expansive space. While being flooded with open hearts and continuous fun, the lucky people who attend this festival will be able to explore themselves through diverse conscious music, rewarding yoga, inspirational and educational workshops, and the numerous other co-creative events that are offered at Arise this year. A key part of these transformational festivals is that every single person there builds each experience through their contributions, creative energies, presence, presents, and open love to others. There is nothing quite like the sense of freedom and love you find at these gatherings. Mmm yes… Paul Bassis, the Producer of Arise,...

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A Preview for ARISE Music Festival

Loveland, CO

August 8th-10th, 2014

Written by Matthew Cocinero

2014-08-08 thru 2014-08-11 -

I can barely contain the bubbling energy inside me! It’s a side effect of the recent realization that I will soon be returning to the beautiful Colorado landscape for another incredible and refreshing co-created event.  For the second year, Arise Music Festival will be returning to Sunrise Ranch, which is nestled in the stunning foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Loveland, CO. From August 8-10, the spanning acres of Sunrise Ranch will be flourishing with many bright souls that will all be sharing this creative and expansive space. While being flooded with open hearts and continuous fun, the lucky people who attend this festival will be able to explore themselves through diverse conscious music, rewarding yoga, inspirational and educational workshops, and the numerous other co-creative events that are offered at Arise this year. A key part of these transformational festivals is that every single person there builds each experience through their contributions, creative energies, presence, presents, and open love to others. There is nothing quite like the sense of freedom and love you find at these gatherings. Mmm yes…

Paul Bassis, the Producer of Arise, painted a beautiful picture when he stated that “The music is like the fire… and we all gather around it to warm our souls.” The wide range of conscious music that can be found at this festival really sets Arise apart from other Colorado festivals. Across the four stages there will be Reggae, Bluegrass, Funk, Hip Hop, Electronic Music, Jam Bands, and creative fusions of many of these genres. On the live performance side of things, Arise will be blessed with the likes of the amazing Beats Antique, Grateful Grass, The Infamous Stringdusters, Quixotic, Groundation, Tribal Seeds, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), and so many more up and coming talents. I am extremely excited encounter the music of Nahko and Medicine for the People which in my experience is just that; a healing collection of vibrations and words that uplift the soul and gives the listener that unmistakable feeling in ones chest of pure positive energy. The Everyone Orchestra conducted by Matt Butler is another show not to be missed, as it is a completely improvisational journey that has had participants from the Grateful Dead, Phish, The String Cheese Incident, as well as hundreds of other musicians, dancers, and singers.

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For those of you who cannot get enough low frequencies in your life at any point in time, there is no shortage of Electronic Music geniuses. On the top of my list is certainly Mr. Bill, a native of Sydney, Australia who creates flawless mind bending glitch productions that can only be rivaled by the likes of Dave Tipper and perhaps a few others. The Polish Ambassador will also be moving many of the bodies found at Sunrise Ranch for this weekend with his rich and diverse funk-ified melodies. There will be many local Colorado electronic artists as well who are known to get the dance floor moving such as Unlimited Aspect, SunSquabi, YuYu, and kLL sMTH. Musical diversity is the name of the game here at Arise Music Festival; check out the full lineup here!

Although Arise is called a Music Festival, there are a multitude of other offerings and experiences to be had within this shining wonderland. Inside the dome at Sunrise Ranch I look forward to encountering the various informative and motivational presenters such as Peter Yarrow who will talk about the power of folk music or Reyna Bryan who will speak about her current project called “RECYCLING IS SEXY”. The power of knowledge is slowly transforming our society for the better, so be sure to absorb and share what you can! Spread throughout the festival grounds will also be a plethora of interactive workshops for one to pick up a new skill or to spiritually open oneself to new ideas and practices. Tablaist Andy Skellenger will accompany the great Sitar Maestro Roshan Bhartiya and together they will be sharing classical Indian music along with the heightened awareness and path to self-realization that is found within this traditionally religious music. As a Physics student with a passion for renewable energy, I am also eager to learn from Kelly O’Donnell and Curt Busby about the ins and outs of “Integrating Solar Energy with Housing, Gardening, Exercise and Spirituality”. It will definitely be something to take home and simmer on. A series of Belly Dance workshops inspired by Zoe Jakes(of Beats antique), Quixotic, and Lunar Fire will also be available for the masses to enjoy, learn, and take part in.  Make sure to take full advantage of these amazing individuals who are willing to share their life’s work with you; who knows, you may find a new passion or hobby!

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While there is always so much going on at these events, it is very easy to forget about ones personal well-being. In response to that, it is my goal to try to leave every transformational festival feeling refreshed and renewed rather than drained. Participating in the various forms of Yoga practice at Arise will certainly create space in ones mind, leave the body in a state of fluid motion and allow for the conscious healing of oneself in the physical and spiritual realm. The brilliance that is Arise also offers a Healers Tent and the Solutions Village where conflicts of any kind may be resolved, whether they be emotional, physical or spiritual. The Kids Village, which is hosted by Rainbow Lightning LLC, will provide a safe, creative, and self-expressive space for our next generation of beautiful souls. So if you are hesitant in bringing your child to this event, know that they will always be engulfed in a positive environment.

It seems that Arise Music Festival has really brought in the best of what a transformational festival has to offer. Arise is meant to create inspiration that drives positive action within all of those that attend. It promotes finding one’s own creative potential while connecting with other like-minded individuals and of course re-connecting with nature. To call a festival life changing is a bit of an understatement. We are collectively changing the norms of society to include the celebration of personal growth, community building, social responsibility, holistic health, and of course creative expression. Sustainability is a constant theme within all of these activities, and it is a theme bent on changing the world. So get out there, open your heart wide, and experience the change!

Photos courtesy of ARISE

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Light the Fuse: Electric Forest 2014 http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/light-fuse-electric-forest-2014/ http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/light-fuse-electric-forest-2014/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:53:28 +0000 http://sparkleberrylane.com/?p=8780 Light the Fuse: a Review of Electric Forest 2014 June 26-29, 2014 Rothbury, MI Written by Alex Kratzert “Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” ― Hunter S. Thompson      On the early morning of June 26th, just as the first birds began to bicker and the billboards and fields faded out of the dark, the front license plate of our white Kia pointed north. North toward Canada; north toward those Great Lakes; north toward something strange, new and free. The car had plenty of gas in the tank, but it was our minds that continued along in desperate need of a refill. I stayed awake through the night with one other, only getting about an hour of fogged sleep while the Adderall and caffeine only gave him a few winks. Empty Red Bull cans found their way into...

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Light the Fuse: a Review of Electric Forest 2014

June 26-29, 2014

Rothbury, MI

Written by Alex Kratzert

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“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”

― Hunter S. Thompson

     On the early morning of June 26th, just as the first birds began to bicker and the billboards and fields faded out of the dark, the front license plate of our white Kia pointed north. North toward Canada; north toward those Great Lakes; north toward something strange, new and free. The car had plenty of gas in the tank, but it was our minds that continued along in desperate need of a refill. I stayed awake through the night with one other, only getting about an hour of fogged sleep while the Adderall and caffeine only gave him a few winks. Empty Red Bull cans found their way into the small crevices between all of the clutter, and “White Room” by Cream was on for about the third time.

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We arrived on fumes at around nine in the morning. We found the better side of the North entrance and sat in line for a short time, passing fields of Cherry trees rolling along in the green. The guys who checked our car were very cool and accommodating, and the volunteer staff only proved equally as positive throughout the weekend.

As we set up camp under a cloudy sky, sleep remained my mind’s sole focus. The energy was far too spry for many, though, and byIMG_2808
ten o’clock our area had turned into an electric pregame full of handshakes, hugs, beer, hula hoops, and peddlers of every kind. Still, my eyelids were heavy, the Pabst warm and my gut furious, and so I had made the decision to take a long, lucid nap before a late night of Umphrey’s McGee. It was about then that the sky opened up to the sun, my tent began to bake, and the neighbors were stopping in to say hello. “Curve” by Papadosio was playing (or maybe it was “The Plug”), and suddenly it felt necessary to stand and mingle. Off in the distance you could hear the bass drop and climb back.

One of the neighbors introduced himself as Bone Crusher. He was a friendly guy wearing jeans, tie dye, pins and stones, and we began discussing the vibe of the whole scene. We shared an appreciation for music and Zen (one particular proverb being something like, “Treat great tasks as if they were very simple, and treat simple tasks as if they were really great” – said with regards to putting up a canopy without poles). We also dug the excitement and outlandish lens of everyone around, all keen and animated toward a mad ramble.  At one point he said (from my memory), “Man, I feel like that’s why the weather cleared and the sky opened up. It’s all in tune…”

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So the weather held well all night. After EOTO’s set (interrupted shortly by Kyle Hollingsworth), the sun had gone below the trees and then it was time for Umphrey’s Mcgee. With quaking knees and a heavy head, I wasn’t sure if I would make it until the end of the show at 2 am, let alone through the first set. But a few hours later, there I was migrating with the herd from the far end of the venue at the towering Sherwood Court stage, happily lethargic in a ramble of oh, sweet madness.

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Cosby Sweater had played an excellent set during Umphrey’s midnight break, the first of three of the weekend (one being a surprise performance). Joel Cummins had joined them for a song, collaborating on a grooving remix of “Another Brick in the Wall.” Then, they played a remix of theirs called, “Cocaine Blues,” and you can check it out on this fan video as well as their Soundcloud.

And then more Umphs. There was one moment during their second set where it all really clicked. The rest was excellent no doubt; a barrage of ripping, stop-and-go guitar licks, intense builds, moments of clarity, and tangles of movement. But in the hours of sound that ripple through the spaced wind of a music festival, there are always those few, cherished moments when sparks fly and your mind ignites.

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Umphs

It happened first when they began performing “Come as Your Kids,” a mashup/remix of “Come as You Are” by Nirvana, “Kids” by MGMT and, to take it back to ’84, “You Spin me Right Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive. I remember almost calling it a night; eyelids shuttering toward closed with a throbbing pressure behind my knees and a general soreness in the soles of my feet. Then, as the music climbed from low to high and then back down only to shoot straight up again, my feet fell numb, my knees limber and my eyelids wide like a spring-wound curtain. And then I began laughing. And twisting. And bouncing and howling. And then it all bounced and howled and twisted. And then I continued laughing more and more until the sounds stopped, the band wiped their eyes clean and the crowd applauded for another. I must have looked like a madman, chortling alone among so many with not a drop of anything (too) strange. It was a night full of fun, smiles, energy and life, powered by the strings and the heads and the keys of the musical mind. It always amazes me how much farther the body can go with the right song, the right jam, and the right scene very loud, bright and immediately in front of you. Cheers, Thompson.

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Friday night Cheese

Throughout the show, a man (probably in his late thirties) could be seen dipping and sliding through the crowd with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his smirk. In his hand was a large disposal bag, which he was filling with whatever gravity grabbed a IMG_3466loose hold of. He’d smile and pat anybody having a good time, more than happy to help keep the grounds clean. He was most likely returning his hard work to the Electricology booth to win prizes; I’m sure, though, that it was the feeling of doing good that was the real motivating factor. So far I have found that that sort of thing can get you high all on its own. Books, too. Swear on my life.

The Conscious Alliance had also made an appearance once again, accepting donations of monetary value as well as nonperishable food items. 20 items or a suggested monetary donation would get an individual a stunning 3D poster by Phil Lewis Art. It’s great to see the IMG_2927arts bringing consciousness; they seem to always be very well-attuned.

The Sherwood Forest is crawling with all sorts of conscious folk. I met someone named Eli Brown who works with The Elevated Movement, which sells hand-made artistic hammocks. Not only are these incredible works of art, but they are also made one hundred percent out of recycled plastic. A line on their business card: “Two Trees for Every Hammock Made.” Eli gave me the rundown of their business and showed me some of their work, which perched in the forest by the Sherwood Court. The designs portrayed intricate scenes of space; stars, galaxies and nebula emanating light, strained through clouds of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. Other designs include intricate depictions of dragons, alchemists, phoenixes and kaleidoscopic portraits, which can all be viewed here.  He pointed out all of the other hammocks scattered through the forest and brought up the question of what happens to all of them. He inquired that after days of sweat, dirt and patron-stink that they all most likely get thrown out rather than washed and reused. “Give ‘em to the people!” he concluded. Check out their website and Facebook page, and help support another conscious group of individuals.

IMG_1242Walking through the forest at night is like stumbling through the rabbit hole, creatures and madness reeling you through the towering trees. Rockets and hot air balloons flew high above the paths with sculptures and art installations scattered every which way. Mazes of hammocks created neighborhoods in the pine, with slapped-bags every which way and spinning typhoons of glowing neon surrounded by gawking audiences. Unicorns, owls, octopi, giants, fair ladies, purple-haired dancers and people of total nonsense roamed about through the current of the crowd, giving those patrons floating along a sight to marvel at and a world to dream in. The Observatory sat in the center of the Sherwood Forest; an oriental-style structure with pillars and swooping peaks along catwalks and staircases. It surrounded a bar where the Kyle Hollingsworth Brewru Experience took place the following day, along with psychedelic bingo at night (to name a few). I left the forest that night with a wide, crooked grin, laden to the brim with psychoactive fatigue. It was a long, weird walk.

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Friday morning arrived in a flash of UV; music, fireworks, wise cracks, and foaming beers belting the wake up call for the late-to-rise. If one could get their act together by noon, they could do yoga at the Tripolee Stage where a flock gathered in the sun every day to limber up for the night to come. I had only caught the tail end of one (more of an observer than anything), and upon hitting the oblate, quarter-inch mattress each night, I figured I might have made a mistake not stopping in for a squat. From what I’ve been told, it feeds the brain, too.

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But even when the muscles strain, the joints creak, the mind throbs and the eyes can’t help but fall shut toward sleep, it is the music
and the energy that keeps you afloat until the end. At least, for most. It has been the rolling tide of the world and life to have those that think one way, those that think another, and those that exhibit a whole new strange kind of thought process. It seems to exist in just about any festival nowadays (and any community for that matter), especially considering the eclectic nature of these lineups. The families and followings of Electric Forest suffused all over the festival grounds, but each night from about eight to one o’clock in the morning, the Cheese family found their space at the Ranch area and plunged into the experience, however it was that they saw it.

The entrance line to the stages was a cattle walk on the first night; a rabble of heads and bodies herding tightly through the IMG_3076causeways and thresholds, with police officers formed along the checks. The law held a high presence at this festival, and the crowd did well at keeping them bored and scuffing pebbles. On the second day, the lines were formed into a block of horizontal rows that snaked to the front. It kept the current well in motion, spread out the crowd for the claustrophobic folk, and gave security a bit of a breather. As patrons entered the maze, high-fives began clapping incrementally with each surpassing column, smiles and camaraderie at every turn. It took me a time to realize that I had been high-fiving the same twenty or thirty individuals along the way, but not many seemed to really care or notice, so it continued pretty much until the end. What a laugh.

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Michael Kang – The String Cheese Incident

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Jason Hann and Bill NERSHI! – The String Cheese Incident

I arrived at the Sherwood Court a little late for Papadosio, just as they were beginning “Utopiate.” They seem to get better each time I see or listen to them, and they never fail to send your mind on a wild trip. I have always been most impressed by their drummer, Mike Healy, who seems to never let up and take a break, no matter how soft the jams get. They are a group of true talent and creativity whom I highly recommend seeing before whatever’s next. It’s a wonder to me how they are hardly ever higher on the lineup, but, as Vonnegut would say, “So it goes.”

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Keith Moseley – The String Cheese Incident

Eventually, it was time for the first appearance of The String Cheese Incident. Michael Kang, singer/guitarist, addressed the crowd before the band went into “Colliding” to kick off the first of six sets. Then came “Search,” and the last two songs of the set were “It Is What It Is” into “Bollymunster.” The jam of “It Is What It Is” stands out as one of the most interesting, enticing, liberating and uplifting bits of creative music that I have come to witness, with a riff that still sounds strong in my head. It was all a very happy vibe; a celebration for the second half of the start of the short experience of Rothbury. I could hardly keep still, and when the music was booming, fast or mellow, peak or trough, the heads and lively souls of that lawn in the trees would bob, nod, rip and roar right along with it, fully enveloped in the free, weird and wild kind of life.

During the show, while grooving through the spacious gaps of the Cheese family, someone said my name in passing. It turned out to be a guy who was IMG_3535also from Connecticut, as well as the boyfriend of one of my very good friends. His name is Matthew; he was very kind and offered me to join them in their niche off to the left side facing the stage. A group of friends had claimed an area not more than seventy feet from the stage with plenty of room to step and sway. I am still amazed at how much awareness the Cheese family has of personal space, along with many other conscious concepts. A good lot. During the break I began speaking to one of his friends, Ricky, who told me he heard that next year the festival would be split into Electric Forest Music Festival and Rothbury Music Festival. Two different worlds in very tight quarters; it’s a wonder if the weld would ever have continued to hold.

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The String Cheese Incident

After the break, Cheese came back with one of my favorite sets of music to-date. The set went: “Rosie” > “Bonafied Lovin’” > “Rosie,” “Song in My Head” > “Give Me the Love,” “Piece of Mine,” “Joyful Sound” (with a real dub-like jam) > “Restless Wind” > “Desert Dawn” and a “Rivertrance” encore. I am relatively new to live Cheese in comparison to the loyal family members. I saw them play for my first and only time at the inaugural Lock’n festival, and since then I have run through shows and explored the captivating, intricate jams that they have channeled throughout the years (all thanks to Archive). This set contained many of my own favorites, and it proved to augment the edifying truth that music is one of very few things in this world that continues to bring us all together. Love; friendship; trust; loyalty; sensations; memories; these are all part of the music of the world, accordant to the ripples of how things sound.

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There’s something special that happens during these shows; any show that really gets you out of bed and on the road to a new place and a new experience. Whether it be Cheese, Umphs, Tribe, Zeds Dead, Lauryn Hill, Stephen Marley, or anything else that has planted its name on the lineup reel, each one carries with it the potential to create something real and liberating; an ephemeral dose of the gratuitous life. I found this moment in the space and sound of Cheese, and again I fell destitute and adrift in peace and hilarity. Hardly before have I felt so comfortable shouting at my deepest breath, rambling on hasty soles while showered in sweat and tears among fits of laughter and crazed fulfillment. This crowd has most certainly become a family, and while no tribe has ever gotten it completely right, this one has at the very least found its place of peace, comfort and joy in a world that is not always quite so.

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And so the rest of the weekend teemed with many more of these sorts of experiences. STS9 had played their first set during the second of the String Cheese Incident on Friday, after which Umphrey’s McGee performed for the last time of the weekend. For the encore of their incredible footprint on this year’s Electric Forest, they played “Bridgeless” into “Time” by Pink Floyd, and then back again to round it all off. There was an interesting blend of old and new that weekend, keeping the sounds that started it all strong and alive while taking creativity and collaboration to new heights with new apparatus. It is very likely that many of these amplifiers had been cranked all the way up to twelve, as if eleven hadn’t done it enough already.

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Cheese – “Valley of the Jig” display

Saturday’s shows consisted of Stephen Marley, The Floozies, Emancipator Ensemble, Flying Lotus, and another round of STS9 and the String Cheese Incident. The second set of Cheese brought on Lauryn Hill (who had also played on Friday before them) for the Ms. Lauryn Hill incident. She joined them after a fantastic display of confetti, lasers, smoke, and the flying sounds of “Valley of the Jig.” The entire lawn erupted, stepping from a hyperactive climb to a jam that induced flashbacks of Contae Chiarrai, which can be viewed in this fan video. After the sight, Ms. Hill stepped onstage to join The String Cheese Incident in performing an incredible, eclectic set. They covered “Is This Love,” “Jamming,” and “Could you be Loved” by Bob Marley and the Wailers, and they also played “Killing Me Softly” and “Ready or Not.” The crowd was packed tightly this time, a mix of the Cheese family with a little something new for a mind that listens for a different sound.

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The Ms. Lauryn Hill Incident

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STS9 – Saturday night

Later that night was Sound Tribe; another shot without Murph on the bass. There were a few times where I felt that something was missing, like there was a necessary layer that had been turned down from eleven to seven. For the most part, though, I was very impressed with Tribe’s new member, as well as their performance as a whole. From low, spacey dub-stuff to psychedelic, convoluted jams, they kept the crowd stepping and smiling. Although this is not the old Tribe that many know and love, they played well; a commoving display flowing with light, sweat, speed and a glaze of rain, fully free of any and all trepidation. At least, for a time; do what you can for now and hold on tight until the next one.

The weekend ended with a day of Aloe Blacc, Bombino, Cosby Sweater, Moby DJ, Earphunk and Moon Taxi, as well as yet another night of the String Cheese Incident. I had never heard Earphunk before, but their rocking licks and psychedelic organ and synthesizer left me grooving through the trees in search of the source. Kung Fu IMG_1349played a set at 1:00 PM on Sunday, arriving not long before only to hit the road right after. They brought the funk to the early afternoon, filling out a thin crowd within a matter of minutes. I had only heard of this group less than a year before and the first time I saw them was at Toad’s Place in New Haven, CT. They killed it, as they did in Rothbury, so I found it necessary to try and get some words from this ascending funk/rock/fusion band. I was lucky enough to get a chance to speak with guitarist Tim Palmieri, who’s motley, ripping and voltaic licks and solos brought the crowd up to rapture and back down again. You can view the interview here.

I didn’t see much for EDM at this festival. There was always something more my speed IMG_3177happening, and with my previous experience of many of the DJs in mind, I slept as fine as one could through the sun baked mornings. But from what I saw and heard from very kind, new and old friends of mine, there was much fun, lots of light, and a hell of a lot of weird to be found in their performances. I was very impressed with Soul Visions and the Human Experience for some of the late-night relax-and-sway. This was no womp, though. Whatever sets the spark to that strange and lively side of your psyche: hear it loud, and listen closely. There’s a lot to be sifted through in these trips; don’t let the bad chatter throw your focus.

The most despairing thing that has thrown the path is when one of our own doesn’t make it backIMG_3172
to spread their experience. A twenty year-old volunteer named Brian passed away on the last night of the festival, the cause of which I do not know. I never met the man, nor do I know his story, but there is little doubt in my mind that in those days and nights, he found at least one drop of fuel and one crack of light; the kind that gives you the urge to live well and free for the time you are given. I’m sure, though, that he found many more than just the one. Hold his family, friends and memory in your thoughts and keep the dream afloat for all those that cannot be with us to see it. If these experiences have shown me anything, it’s that there is a great and evident chance that he, and all the others, will be right there with us on the lawn; a part of the family; giving energy and flow to the sounds. Where else could such life come from?

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And so as music is fuel, the families and communities are an engine that roars and stumbles great distances; tacking on miles toward a glorious, gaudy finish; beat, warn and rusted with character. These places are shaped by the people and artists that IMG_3733come through them, and with that comes a great responsibility. Along with advising our friends, family and fellow strangers through an excellent time, it is our principle duty to ensure that it all happens safely, and without incident. Police officers should be at home, tucked in and at peace with their ear plugs; not sweaty, on-edge, hopped up on caffeine and coasting on a bad case of indoctrinated social profiling (among others). Life happens, though, and we may only do our best to hold on and let loose when we get the chance. With that, I feel that the patrons, artists, crew, and even the law at Electric Forest achieved a great deal at this year’s event.

And while the sects of the music scene had found their seclusion among what manyIMG_3740 have called a mindless bender of debauchery – or something alike – there was much peace and community wherever those collisions occurred. This is not always the case, but how can you really know unless you breathe deep and take that plunge? Our rapid, wavering lives are loaded with brisk bits of experience: good and bad; better or worse; each one feeding the brain with gross amounts of fear, confusion and clarity. Yin and yang: it’s always been the name of this whole crazed game. I hope that your lives have all remained exciting, strange, and full of unknown; with your friends and family alongside, the memories will survive long past our hazed horizons. Deep breaths – and when you’re caught in the rush of all that life, remember to smile. It’s really all a great laugh.

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Photos taken by Alex Kratzert

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The Funky Groove of Kung Fu http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/funky-groove-kung-fu/ http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/funky-groove-kung-fu/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:48:06 +0000 http://sparkleberrylane.com/?p=8898 An Interview with Tim Palmieri of Kung Fu Electric Forest Music Festival Rothbury, MI Written by Alex Kratzert At about 3:00 PM on Sunday, June 29th 2014, I was sitting in the media tent flipping through photos, guzzling water and nursing down a chicken quesadilla. There was a threat of rain for that day and photographers became very anxious and curious as to how their gear would hold up. Then the band Kung Fu – Adrien Tramontano (drums), Chris DeAngelis (bass), Rob Somerville (saxophone), Todd Stoops (keyboard), and Tim Palmieri (guitar) – who had played a one o’clock set, rolled heavily into the area glazed in sweat and exhaustion. I doubted that a sudden downpour would prove as much of an annoyance to them as it would to the visual members of the media, but it wouldn’t end up raining until later on. I introduced myself to the band, and Tim- a tall, humble and very intelligent man – promptly joined me for an interview. The following was transcribed from a recording. SBL: When did you get here? Tim: We rolled in today; we drove straight from Vermont last night and it’s just uh…wow; it’s a haul. This is my...

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An Interview with Tim Palmieri of Kung Fu

Electric Forest Music Festival

Rothbury, MI

Written by Alex Kratzert

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At about 3:00 PM on Sunday, June 29th 2014, I was sitting in the media tent flipping through photos, guzzling water and nursing down a chicken quesadilla. There was a threat of rain for that day and photographers became very anxious and curious as to how their gear would hold up. Then the band Kung Fu – Adrien Tramontano (drums), Chris DeAngelis (bass), Rob Somerville (saxophone), Todd Stoops (keyboard), and Tim Palmieri (guitar) – who had played a one o’clock set, rolled heavily into the area glazed in sweat and exhaustion. I doubted that a sudden downpour would prove as much of an annoyance to them as it would to the visual members of the media, but it wouldn’t end up raining until later on. I introduced myself to the band, and Tim- a tall, humble and very intelligent man – promptly joined me for an interview. The following was transcribed from a recording.

SBL: When did you get here?

Tim: We rolled in today; we drove straight from Vermont last night and it’s just uh…wow; it’s a haul. This is my first time getting to sit down since the set and driving in, setting up and playing, but what a great turnout for a Sunday afternoon; that was sick.

Yeah, you guys started off with a pretty small crowd and drew everybody right in.

It’s been a collective effort, you know; the way we even formed was we just got five guys from different bands with everyone unitingIMG_1345 their wisdom; it’s just worked in such an efficient way.

Are you going to kick it for the rest of the night?

We’re probably going to drive immediately back to Connecticut; we’ve been hitting festivals just about every weekend and a lot of babies are coming in this year for the band, so it’s definitely been a transitional year in the personal realm. Just maintaining the rock n’ roll presence, you know? If it takes driving like a ninja seventeen hours to play a set at Electric Forest, we’re going to do it.

Definitely; get as many in as you can. I noticed that you’re popping up on all kinds of festival lineups; what else is on the list for this summer?

Coming up we have Gathering of the Vibes, Phases of the Moon in September, and Catskill Chill in the Northeast, which is always a lot of fun. We have Camp Barefoot in West Virginia and we just did Wakarusa; it’s been good making the rounds without actually being on the road for an extended period of time.

How long have you guys been playing together and who are your biggest influences?

I think this November will be six years. As a band, I guess we channel Herbie Hancock…all the good stuff; just the funk side of fusion, you know what I mean? Be technical; be Jeff Beck, but like funky: Herbie Hancock; James Brown; P-Funk…meets Eddie Van Halen.

You just released your second record, Tsar Bomba; how long did it take to record and what was the process like?

This album actually took a bit longer than the first one did and that’s because we went through a member change, which seems like forever ago now, but at the time it was like, okay: find a new guy, what’s our sound, catch him up with the material, et cetera. So it was like, we started a record but didn’t get to finish it, we re-recorded all the parts, and now it’s come-to. Besides a little setback we’re happy with it; it’s still relevant in our sound and where we are artistically. But yeah, Tsar Bomba: get it anywhere…buy records!

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What is it about your music that sets it apart from others?

Well, a lot of bands funk and a lot of bands play technical but I think our niche is doing both; as technical as it could be, we’re still just trying to keep people dancing and keep it funky, which is still a discipline like Lettuce, Soulive, or Karl Denson meets Garaj Mahal; just finding that middle ground. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t; when we get it oh, we’re surfin’.

Do you dig electronic music very much?

Sure, I like all kinds of music. The electronic music I like is more old school; I don’t like a ton of new artists, but I love the idea of old school stuff like Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, like the artistic side of digital electronica meets repetition. It is about repetition and flowing and creating a mood and you get taken through a slower journey sometimes, while fusion is very action-packed. We like both.

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I noticed you guys had a great meld; you’d get real funky and keep everybody dancing and then you’d bring the ripping psychedelic jams that were incredible.

Psychedelic music is awesome; because it means you’re listening, and you’re all pushing the boundaries, too; like you’re playing something that’s never been played before.

How do you like the crowd at this festival?

Well, for the time being here it was great: they were there in front of us; they were dancing; they looked happy; I was watching people in hammocks, jealous of how comfortable they looked; wanted to jam the Ewok celebration song, but was not able to fit it into the set. At one point, though, when the trees started going back and forth I felt like they were dancing; they were in rhythm with us, like a certain bunch. These trees over here didn’t like us as much, but these ones really dug it; that kind of thing…I don’t know how this will read later, but that’s what I experienced.

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For sure, this venue is amazing and the people and the sounds are really in-tune with it.

Yeah, very natural. I’m always happy to play in beautiful, natural, gorgeous settings like Bear Creek at Suwannee in Florida, which has that old Spanish moss tree, amphitheater-vibe. This was actually more in the middle of really dense woods in a great way; you’d see structures off in the distance and wonder, “What’s over there?”

So on the topic of nature, Sparkleberry Lane is a project not only dedicated to live music but also conscious living, sustainability and all the like; I was just wondering if there’s anything you’d like to say to festival goers and people in general regarding our actions toward the environment?

IMG_1391Well, actions always speak louder than words. You don’t have to preach the gospel of naturalism or whatever, but when you pick up garbage when you see it, you’re doing the world a favor. I think action and activism is always the best way to go; to lead by example. I’m guilty as much as anyone of not always following through, but the goal is to do what you are saying you’re doing. We get apathetic; I like to think that the recycling I put in the bin is going to where it needs to be recycled. You get the cynical types who would say, “You think that’s actually getting recycled?!” and, well, I guess I don’t really know. I just want to trust people.

Well put, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just find us on Facebook; find us on our website; keep coming to shows; buy our records; invite us to do wonderful, splendid things with you, and let’s keep making fusion cool.

Cheers – keep rockin! For more information on the band check out their website and Facebook page, and be sure to make Tsar Bomba your next album purchase. Musicians need help to be able to keep us dancing and feeling well and alive, and this is a group that most certainly deserves the support. For a look into Kung Fu’s set as well as the rest of the fun and madness behind Electric Forest, read Sparkleberry Lane’s review here; otherwise, go see Kung Fu the next time they’re around!

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Festival Review: Ziontific Summer Solstice http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/foot-ziontific-summer-solstice-music-festival/ http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/foot-ziontific-summer-solstice-music-festival/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 22:30:21 +0000 http://sparkleberrylane.com/?p=8864 A Review of Ziontific Summer Solstice Music Festival Stockbridge, VT – June 20-23rd, 2014 Written by Mitch Smith Photos by Kevin Hardman My foot, I thought, peeling off the sock attached to my right foot and exposing the creature underneath for the first time since arriving at the Ziontific festival grounds. I’d been a fairly nocturnal animal as of late, working days in a fluorescent basement and, consequently, both going to sleep and sleeping in late. My foot, I thought, hardly able to think in complete sentences let alone speak in them. My foot, I more than likely thought again. My foot is white, though that was probably an understatement and it was more along the lines of translucent, like some kind of strange, watery, undiscovered deep-sea fish. My foot is so white. The sun had been eluding me for about a month, and so I thought it had to be some sort of positive sign that our reunion would be this weekend, at Ziontific Summer Solstice Music Festival, when the Sun God or Goddess or Androgynous Sun Sultan, or whatever, the sun, our favorite little star down here on Earth, was at its highest point all year, and when...

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A Review of Ziontific Summer Solstice Music Festival

Stockbridge, VT – June 20-23rd, 2014

Written by Mitch Smith

Photos by Kevin Hardman

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My foot, I thought, peeling off the sock attached to my right foot and exposing the creature underneath for the first time since arriving at the Ziontific festival grounds. I’d been a fairly nocturnal animal as of late, working days in a fluorescent basement and, consequently, both going to sleep and sleeping in late. My foot, I thought, hardly able to think in complete sentences let alone speak in them. My foot, I more than likely thought again. My foot is white, though that was probably an understatement and it was more along the lines of translucent, like some kind of strange, watery, undiscovered deep-sea fish. My foot is so white. The sun had been eluding me for about a month, and so I thought it had to be some sort of positive sign that our reunion would be this weekend, at Ziontific Summer Solstice Music Festival, when the Sun God or Goddess or Androgynous Sun Sultan, or whatever, the sun, our favorite little star down here on Earth, was at its highest point all year, and when it would show its face the longest.

“Don’t mind me, man. If I seem… spacey. Feeling a little out of it,” I’d told Kevin Hardman from the passenger seat on the drive up to Stockbridge, Vermont from New Hampshire. “Minimal sleep.” Kevin was to be my tent-buddy-roommate-friend for the weekend, or whatever moniker suits your fancy—mi amigo para la fiesta, my compadre for the weekend, my pardner-in-crime, which latter phrasing should be read in a deep, southern man’s country drawl, whose proverbial face is without a doubt equipped with a thick, dancing, handlebar mustache.

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Kevin was photographing the event, and I was writing on it, and I was exhausted, and in need of a missing pair of brains and cognitive function; they seemed to have slipped away in the night during the short window of time where I was actually sleeping, those sly guys. Well, damn. I wanted this to go well, but the ride up felt like some sort of dream that seemed to involve Mario Kart or something; I don’t know, it definitely had to do with driving; I know that much. I fit the archetype of Groggy, Sleep-Deprived Zombie quite nicely for a while there.

“My foot is bone-white,” I pointed out to Kevin, feeling faintly more alert with the sun beating on my face, and now foot—an incipient sunburn already making its presence known on my forehead and forearms—and the exertion of lugging our camping junkDSC_5892 from the car to the camping area, which, in actuality, was a very short distance. Our things all lay now in a sad, crumpled heap on the green, green grass. I tugged clumsily on my left shoe until it gave way to my indomitable will, and I yanked my remaining sock off, and all two of my feet were free. In my sleepy stupor, my dazed dementia, my feet sang out in harmony with the songs of nearby birds and children’s laughter—the Mary Poppin’s of feet—and they ambled about in the lush sea of verdant, Vermont-brand summer green like a pair of punch-drunk seals, even though there was no music playing yet, beside the celebration song of a pair of feet escaped from incarceration, which was playing plenty loud for me at least. I’d been singing along to a song lately by a folk-type artist, Shakey Graves, whose chorus has the line, “Seems like I don’t get to where my bare feet at all,” belting it out in the shower to the consternation of my roommates, on the way to and fro work to the amusement of nearby cars at red lights, and so my feet were feeling especially angsty, fixing to get nice ‘n nekkid. It was a momentous, long-awaited for occasion.

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Andrea Belaidi – Harsh Armadillo (vocals)

“Oh, man. Now this is beautiful. What I need,” I said to Kevin, to myself, to Whoever Could Hear me. “My feet feel like they’ve lived their whole lives in captivity and they’ve just now been saved by some animal activist group.” I was becoming more articulate—good; my words were flowing better—right on—but, obviously, my thoughts were still not quite up-to-speed yet, however singular—in multiple senses of the word—they were. But I was getting there. The whole aura of the festival was uplifting my spirits to a
surprisingly large degree already. I had a strong premonition that it was going to be a revitalizing weekend; the beautiful weather served as a solid indicator towards this, and was bringing me back to my senses with a welcome, much-needed kiss from the sun high up there on it’s throne, which said kiss became a little too aggressive for my taste over the course of a few days due to my lack of sunscreen diligence.

There was a happy sort of anticipation accumulating. Earlier, we met a guy who introduced himself to us as “Purple Dragon,” which was fitting as he was decked out entirely in purple and magenta and violet and so on like an offshoot, hippie version of Prince, Hippie Prince, or The Artist Formerly Known as Hippie Prince, or what have you. We would see Purple Dragon throughout the rest of the weekend strutting around in his regal colors, head bobbing to whatever music was playing at the time, a look on face like, Life is good. People were happy to be there; children were running about like sheep whose shepherds let them giddily ramble in bleating packs—this place was safe and harmless and carefree, and I was trying to be carefree as well, trying to absorb it all as if through photosynthesis.

But I was still deeply tired. A word to the wise (or to the tender-brained fool, is more like it): don’t talk to your ex on the phone at three in the morning, especially not if you have things to do the next day, which, at three in the morning, is not exactly the next day anymore; don’t even do it if you have nothing to do the next/same day. Nothing good can come of an unfortunate situation like that, Dumbo. Really, what did you expect?

*

Kevin and I set up our tent amongst an assortment of tents big and small and thin and wide, whose inhabitants enjoyed a similar cohabitation and harmony with one another despite their also similar diversity in appearance. We pitched by the main lawn area, our fingers fumbling throughout the process like the relative camping newbies we were. Our temporary home was eventually complete and, surprisingly, free of deformations. We stuffed our stuff—food, camera equipment, notepad, sleeping bags, geetar, etcetera—inside the tent in an aimless rush to complete our pad’s high-class décor. The first band, Masla, took the stage as Kevin and I settled into our incredibly modern, New York style tentpartment for a moments rest and an obligatory PB&J and PBR pick-me-up, the camping versions of champagne and caviar. I sipped on the celestial, patriotic taste of early nineteenth century America while Masla’s hard-hitting, female-driven hip-hop served to further enliven me.

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What was nice about the hip-hop at Ziontific, groups like Sophistafunk and Masla and Political Animals, was that most of them had actual bands playing with them, and even if they didn’t, like The Aztext and The Lynguistic Civilians didn’t, they made up for it with some serious flow and ciphering ability; it wasn’t just like some superegoed figurehead bouncing around, yelling about designer liquor over a pre-recorded backtrack; it was all very artful; it wasn’t any sort of post-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Kanye West sort of muzik. There was more hip-hop throughout the weekend than I had anticipated prior to arriving at Ziontific, and even though I’m not the biggest hip-hop head, I enjoyed it all because I can spy talent when I see it, especially when it’s served up hot right in front of me.

On that note, to jump ahead, there was more variety in general at the festival than I had formerly expected. It was nice. Ziontific Productions did a nice job in mixing it up with their lineup. This was their fourth annual festival, and maybe they were finding their groove with it all: everything ran smoothly and efficiently and cleanly and they did a nice job with keeping the whole thing fun for everyone throughout the whole weekend. Either that or there was a wholesome self-governance going on amongst the Ziontific civilians: the river was kept clean; I didn’t see beer cans tossed rudely into the natural surroundings; and I didn’t even see cig-butts polluting the ground or grass by the lawn or stage or camping areas, in part to the help of Mother Nature’s Army and their butt-collecting initiative, who were giving prizes out to a few people who collected the most littered cigarettes. Even That Obnoxiously Drunk Guy who’s at every party you’ve ever been to didn’t show up, or I at least was able to avoid That Guy somehow, a feat in its own rite.

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After settling in for a bit inside our tent, I felt I was on the trail towards my missing pair of brains and cognitive ability, a modern day Sherlock Holmes. Like I’d been dolling out milk cartons or fliers or some such with my brain’s likeness on them, the Green Mountains and the clean air and the steadily flowing Tweed River, all without a doubt big milk drinkers, decided to aid in my search, acting in unison as my Dr. Watson on the case.

Kevin and I hung in the tent for a little while, him getting his camera and all fixed up, Fer sum shootin’, he explained, while I relaxed, layed on my sleeping bag, ate, indulged a bit in a funky concoction, closed my eyes, attempted to collect some composure, and listened to the music playing from the stage, which sounded like it was right next to us, as it pretty much was.

DSC_6792My phone was off and stowed away in the car, pointless to have out due to the lack of service in the remote, woodsy, New England setting—one of the biggest bonus’ that the out-of-the-way, river- and mountain-side location had to offer us, beside the obvious natural beauty: nobody’s head was suctioned onto an LCD screen. There was lots of eye contact; it was everywhere—egads! The social impact of the serviceless locale was plain to see, which statement holds both positives and negatives—negative in that too many people are living probably too-large a portion of their lives in a sort of virtual reality, and positive in that, Hey, at least this one weekend will be good and communicative and personable and real, right?

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Max Harris (sax) and Camden Riley (guitar) – Harsh Armadillo

We’d been in the tent for over an hour. Masla’s set finished a while ago. Joey Batts & Them—another talented, full-band hip-hop group—just played the last notes of their set, sounding a good deal like some composition of Aesop Rock and Rage Against the Machine. Remembering that Harsh Armadillo, who I was excited to see play, was third on the first day’s roster of bands, I realized that they were up next, in ten minutes or so. I made a PB&J halfwich—a PB&J on one piece of folded-over bread (mini food is just so super cute)—stood up, stretched, slapped myself in the face, let Kevin slap me in
the face, and ten minutes vanished into thin air and I could suddenly hear Harsh’s distinctive, tight horn section and Maxim Harris’ saxy sexophone melodies from Kevin and mine’s base camp. I could hear Dan Tauriello’s steady, spot-on drum beats, Camden Riley and Aiden Earley’s fast and funky guitar licks, Thomas Forbes’ killer, jaunty, down-low bass, Dimitry Harris’ keyboard pyrotechnics, all coming together and culminating into a crescendo of pristine sound and cherry-topped with Andrea Belaidi’s soulful, bona fide sincere vocals. And I wanted to dance. Suddenly… despite that I had felt almost like I was melting onto my sleeping bag and pillow moments ago. Harsh Armadillo never fails to make me dance, no matter what kind of stupor I’m in, and I think that’s saying something big. I’ve been a bit of Harsh Armadillo groupie lately—not in the sexual way, though sometimes their grooves do maybe give me some ideas…you know, like, say, maybe a Marvin Gaye song might…add in some dim bar lighting or the tipsy romance of a Saturday night…and woof, puppy love. They play a lot around the Durham, NH area… Portsmouth, Dover, Newmarket… around where we all, including Kevin, go or went to the University of New Hampshire.

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Dimitry Harris – Harsh Armadillo

On the very same morning, the band members were paying their respects and homage to their good friend and producer, Thayer
Harris, who recently passed away, and who produced and recorded Harsh’s entire heartfelt, I’m sure, funky, bittersweet upcoming album, which I know will be extremely tight, and which everyone should check out upon its release. Harsh played their set with what seemed to me like a lot of emotion, and they really just plain and simple rocked it, played one of the best performances I’ve ever seen them put on, which, again, is saying a lot being that I’ve never seen ‘em put on a bad show, or even a mediocre or a just decent show: they serve out consistent musical justice. Harsh’s set started to coax people towards the stage and away from their tents, where, for the first two bands, it seemed everybody was, hanging back at their respective home away from homes. By the end of their set, a decent-sized and dancing crowd had been lured out of the woodworks to listen. And, for me, this was the real start of Ziontific. It seemed like, at that moment, that it had begun, and that Harsh played a certain part in setting the festivals wheels in motion. From thenceforth, the festival took on a new and visceral vitality that had a moving, jovial swagger to it. And I felt that I had just up and thrown my tiredness away as if it was all crumpled up and covered in pizza sauce, trying not to recycle it like I did with my PBR can’s thanks to, again, Mother Nature’s Army’s readily available recycling bins.

I found out later that, in quintessential rock star fashion, Harsh arrived to the festival ten minutes before they were scheduled to play, quickly set up there gear, and went straight to funkin’ layin’ down the funk.

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Thomas Forbes (bass), Dan Tauriello (drums) and Aiden Earley (guitar) – Harsh Armadillo

FAST FORWARD: A soccer ball was rapidly rolling towards where my feet were planted in the grass. Where my bare, red feet were planted. My feet were now very red, as opposed to very white. As were my shoulders. As was my forehead. And chest. And back. And arms and forearms and hands and fingers. But I didn’t care. I was finally awake and aware as any other day, perhaps even more acutely so now on this particular weekend than on just another day, the energy of the festival and the happiness and good-humor of the occasion washing over me, breathing new life into me and pumping fresh air into my lungs. It was around four o’clock on June twenty-first, the second day of Ziontific; a mid-afternoon golden glow gilded the tops of trees and the nearby mountain peaks. The soccer ball hit my foot with a crispy sting, and I let out a laugh. I felt like a new person, rejuvenated over the course of a day and a half, intoxicated with happiness via contact high with all of the high-spirited people waltzing around the festival grounds.

Three young kids were running towards me, after the soccer ball, with an animalistic hunger in their eyes. I passed the ball back to a man in a black tank top with long, dark hair, who looked like he was in a Ray Ban advertisement, and who introduced himself to me only as Chief. Chief and I were playing a friendly game of keep away with the kids. There were lots of interesting folk gathered in Stockbridge at Ziontific for the weekend of good ol’ feel-good music, and many of them had reflectively interesting, unique, befitting names. Chief was most certainly Chief. When he introduced himself to me, said the words, “I’m Chief,” whether or not he was being a dick didn’t even flash through my mind, because it was obvious that he was uppercase c, Chief.

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B-Boy Poptart

Later in the day I’d find myself watching a then-nameless breakdancer for over an hour in The Root Center Dome, which was where they held events like rap battles or freestyling or breakdancing, and when I heard, after his mad display of what clever forms the human body can take, that he called himself B-Boy Poptart, I took the news with a straight face. If he introduced himself as Nick or Tony or Steve I would’ve thought something was amiss, but B-Boy Poptart was what his name could’ve only been.

Chief was dribbling the ball away from the children, and he passed to me, and I dribbled away from them, too. When I turned my back to the kids, I noticed a pretty girl hooping, a hula-hoop circling her body with a hypnotic rhythm. I looked down in front of her, where I noticed that somebody else was hypnotized by the hooper as well, a toddler, naked, a big grin on his little face, stumbling trying to stand in a kind of lumbering dance, not a care in the world, except maybe about falling and embarrassing himself in front of the perty lady.

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“I wish I was a kid again,” Chief said, suddenly by my side, watching. It seemed like everybody noticed the spectacle at the same time, and, all of the sudden, as if through divine intervention, were all looking and smiling and laughing and occasionally clapping at the hooping girl and the dancing baby. The kids were able to finally steal Chief’s soccer ball from me. They ran away with it cackling and wooping.

“Ah, it’s OK. I’ll get it back later,” he said. The hula girl, with everybody’s head turned towards her, noticed that she was caught in the center of a small show. And she turned the hooping up, because she could and because was used to putting on this kind of show. As it turned out she was part of Cosmic Karma Fire; I saw her hooping just as well later when night fell even though her hula-hoops DSC_6286were on fire in five or so spots. Chief and I turned to each other, both grinning. “Ah, look at all of us. Who am I kidding? We’re still kids. I’m still a kid,” he said, wearing an indisputably kiddish smile. Purple Dragon walked by with his purple, fuzzy hat and his bouncing head, a lopsided smirk on his face. A man with a grizzly beard walked by with a cardboard sign that read, I want your butts, and a bag half-filled with used-up cigarette filters that clarified which sort of butts he wanted—he was vying for one of Mother Nature’s Army’s prizes.

The day had already been great thus far; it felt complete even though it was only halfway through. I played Frisbee with the cool cats from Harsh Armadillo in easily the coolest place you could toss a disc around: right in the Tweed River, the sun shining, the clear water up to mid-shin, my red foot visible at the bottom; witnessed the singer/washboard player from Rhythmic Circus pop the question, to which She said, Yes; got down to some skanking with All Good :: Feel Good Collective’s set, who are a really great ska, rocksteady band located out of New Hampshire’s seacoast. It was DSC_6866nice to see all these really talented local-type, up-and-coming bands that I’ve seen around New Hampshire’s seacoast bars playing on a bigger stage through a well put together medium such as Ziontific; it was a healthy transition from hearing skilled bands like All Good :: Feel Good and Dubbest and Harsh Armadillo at bars with negligible acoustics and small PA systems to hearing them through the power behind the amps and electronics at Ziontific; the big venue and big sound suited them all well. I’d even seen The Alchemystics—the affecting reggae band that would be playing just before The Movement that night and who would be the closing act of Ziontific’s final, culminating night—at a bar up in the boonies of Maine for Sugarloaf Mountain’s Reggae Fest.  The big stage and sound suited their talents, too.

The night before saw Sophistafunk’s spicy fusion of truly sophisticated funk and hip-hop grace the stage with a commanding presence and an erudite drum solo on the part of their drummer, Emanuel Washington. Royal Hammer was up after Sophistafunk, and they impressed me and romanced my ears with some slow, easy-going-and-in-love reggae. After their set I felt ready to go to sleep, however, to bed, where all that romance music naturally leads, but I needed to resist and see Roots of Creation, a popular New England-based reggae-rock band with a side of hip-hop and a message of goodwill. I walked around the festival for a moment, sort of wandering but aiming to eventually head back to the tent for a bite to eat and some required refueling—as my energy level barometer’s needle was starting to point dangerously downwards, creeping towards empty—but I stopped short when I saw a big sign that said Hippie Pop, and below that a sign that said, $2 Grilled Cheeses. For a hopeful, post-grilled cheese, satiated moment, I thought I’d make it through the night, be able to move to Roots of Creation’s swaying jams, but halfway through their set I somehow found myself in my sleeping bag. There was no hope for me then; I was a goner for sure. But at least I fell asleep listening to very audible, good music from my temporary home, and I fell asleep happy. And the next morning, day number two, I woke up still happy, and enlivened and new.

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I Anbassa

And after that I was golden; and everything else was golden, too; petty worries were of no use in a place like this, and so, good riddance.

*

The sun was checking out, tired from its big day, and I Anbassa was taking the stage, giving it what I would call a proper sendoff. Ras N’gosi Anbassa, lead singer and rhythm guitar, lead the group with his contagious energy, and soon the audience was contaminated and dancing to their island-rooted reggae. Their backup singers—or as Mr. Anbassa put it better in an interview, their “forward singers…because they’re definitely upfront with us, and doing the best job in the world”—add even more energy and soul to the band, their voices complimenting Ras N’gosi’s perfectly. The Alchemystics put on a great show with the return of Ras Jahn, the older, wiser man with a greyed and dreaded beard, and who I perceived to be one of the spiritual centers of the group. He wasn’t present when I saw them over the winter up at Sugarloaf due to some kind of medical reasons. The Movement came on next, probably the band with the widest fan base on the Ziontific’s ticket. Halfway through their set, which sounded amazing live, I burst into laughter. Kevin raised an eyebrow at me. “What?” he said. I told him to just listen to the singers voice and look at him and he’d understand, and he, apparently, after a few seconds, understood, and he too started laughing. His voice was so unexpectedly good and different than what one would expect just by looking at him that it was my body’s natural reaction to laugh—don’t judge a book by its cover, kids.

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Sophistafunk

The sun was long gone; it was about one-thirty in the morning I’d venture to say. I left the stagefront area somewhat thoughtlessly, and like a moth to a flame I found myself headed toward the fire dancers over where Cosmic Karma Fire was stationed, where the naked little boy’s first love was hooping with a fire-studded hula-hoop, and I was quickly pulled away by more insectile instinct towards a bonfire that was burning strongly within sight of both the fire dancing and the stage: it was getting chilly with the sun sleeping and it would be good to warm my bones for a moment.

I stumbled back over to where I left Kevin, who was now in the company of Fraggle and Garth—more interesting people with more befitting, unquestionable names—who we’d met earlier and who were walking around the festival selling T-Shirts & Beyond. They DSC_6060were pretty easy to find because of the waning crowd at the stage—it was edging towards two in the morning—and because of Fraggle’s blonde hair, magically defying gravity and looking like adjacent and symmetrically bursting fire hydrants: he was wearing long pig tails that shot straight up into the air and splayed apart at the ends. “The turnout isn’t exactly what we expected,” Fraggle was saying to Kevin, who’d asked how he was enjoying his weekend so far. The crowd by the stage never got big enough to lose yourself in. “Small festival, you know. Not making much of a profit with the sales here.” Fraggle & Garth travel their summers away, going to different festivals and selling their merch—not a bad way to spend your summers. “But that’s alright,” he conceded. “The atmosphere makes up for it. Super friendly place; good people; good vibes. Still really glad to be here.”

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I Anbassa

He was right. Ziontific Summer Solstice Music Festival was a comparatively small jamboree; the lawn before the stage never got too congested. But it was, as he said, alright, more than alright, in fact. The weekend was family friendly, and I’m sure that there will be many returning families because of the supportive and heartening environment that Ziontific Productions provided—there were lots of arts and crafts throughout the whole weekend for the kids, activities like mask-making and fashioning dream catchers; there were photography nature walks and a host of other nourishing and honest activities for the young’ns at the kidZone. For adults not by the stage, there were equally nourishing activities for them to take part in: guided meditation and yoga with live drumming and free flow poetry circles and jam circles and trips down to the river. The bands would hang out around the crowd and lawn with the festival-goers after their sets: the boys of Sophistafunk were seen running around, throwing a football during the days after their set; The Movement made it clear throughout their performance their intentions to drink and get loose with the people in the crowd after their set was over at two A.M.; Ras N’gosi Anbassa and I bought two dollar grilled cheeses at the same time, and we toasted with them like we were clinking beers. “Cheers.” Sure, it was a pretty small festival, but it was a little, tightly knit community. The weekend ran smoothly and was fun for all, as I’ve said, and I hope it will grow and continue in this vein with Ziontific’s fifth year next summer and even further on down the line.

We bid Fraggle and Garth farewell, until we meet again, and I watched Fraggle’s matching stalks of explosive, yellow hair make their way towards the back of the crowd and out into the open lawn. I looked up at the sky.

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Sophistafunk

“Holy…” I said, pointing up, just then realizing how clear the Vermont night sky and the stars held in it were.

“You can see almost the whole milky way,” Kevin said.

“Look: The Big Dipper. Look: The Little Dipper. Look…” I said, getting ahead of myself, by no means a master of the constellations.

“Look: there’s Orion’s Belt,” Kevin said, pointing at another indeterminate part of the heavily salted sky. “Look…” he said, but Kevin was no constellation master either. Nevertheless, it was an earnestly beautiful sight, and I’ve only seen a comparably bedazzled sky in the sticks of Minnesota. There was very little light pollution up here, and there were no clouds to block the expansive view from up above.

There was still much to be excited about for tomorrow, Sunday, June twenty-second, the last day of the festival: the quirky, fun, uniquely outlandish experience of a “silent disco,” which looks quite strange when you take your headphones off your ears and look around you, people occasionally shouting out disjointed lyrics—at one point Cheatcode was playing a sample from a Beck song, “Loser,” and I took my head phones off to look around in awe, and impassioned faces through seeming magic simultaneously shouted out in the two-thirty A.M. silence, “Soy un perdedor. I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me,” or, “In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey,” phrases that sounded humorous, if not a bit off-kilter, in the quiet context of the late hour. Thomas Forbes of Harsh Armadillo and Million Suns—who didn’t perform at Ziontific but are still entirely worth checking out—would be filling in the bass slot for Strange Machines tomorrow, a band out of Boston on the forefront of the modern reggae-rock infusion sound, which was bound to be a solid display of musical capacity. The Alchemystics would be playing set number two to polish off the festival from eight until ten P.M.

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But, right then, I was wrapped in a blanket of stars, and tomorrow was just a hypothetical theory. I stood there, silently, more aware of how much there is to love about life and the long, strange trip of the human experience than I had been in months. It all seemed acutely strange for a moment. And did I just say long human experience? Looking up at such a striking sky can make you feel suddenly finite. In comparison to everything going on up there, my worries seemed so very small. I was thinking, staring off into the vastness of the stars in a cheesy romance film worthy camera shot—Nicholas Sparks could be a potential directing candidate on this one—how the supposed “loss” of love in one person seemed miniscule and sort of trivial in the grand total spectrum of everything lovable—and if not lovable at least acceptable, and if unacceptable then hopefully changeable—that’s out there. And what a waste of this short life it is to spend it being glum. Being downtrodden and gloomy breaks the bulbs of your love light. So forget about that thing or those things that are getting you down. It or they ain’t worth your time.

And so, again, I went to sleep happy and fulfilled, and, correspondingly, I woke up happy and fulfilled, well-rested, lucid, an oppressive weight off my shoulders, exalted, ready for another gratifying day by Vermont’s Green Mountains and Tweed River at Ziontific Production’s Summer Solstice Music Festival.

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Sonic Bloom Takes Over American Safari Ranch: Festival Review http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/sonic-bloom-takes-american-safari-ranch-review/ http://sparkleberrylane.com/musicblog/sonic-bloom-takes-american-safari-ranch-review/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:46:06 +0000 http://sparkleberrylane.com/?p=8763 Sonic Bloom 2014 was one for the books. Our brothers and our sisters of this amazing community came with open arms and a new respect for the new location at American Safari Ranch. Celebrating its 9th year in Colorado, Sonic Bloom took this new venue by storm and showed us all what this gorgeous state has to offer. It was a drastic change from what most of us were used to but a good, refreshing change none-the-less. The lovely trees and flowing river will be missed by anyone who attended the festival when it was at Shadow’s Ranch in Georgetown, but with this change comes a new picture that will capture your wildest imagination. I’ve personally lived in top ski towns like Vail and Breckenridge and would say the imagery we had at American Safari Ranch is untouchable. Literally surrounded by a 360 degree view of mountains in a wide open valley, American Safari Ranch is now home to the prettiest festival in the country, our Sonic Bloom. The music- as predicted- was top notch, with something for everyone. Tipper played some of the best sets I’ve ever seen on Friday and Saturday night with some help from the ever so...

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In the arms of the American Safari Ranch we landed.

Sonic Bloom 2014 was one for the books. Our brothers and our sisters of this amazing community came with open arms and a new respect for the new location at American Safari Ranch. Celebrating its 9th year in Colorado, Sonic Bloom took this new venue by storm and showed us all what this gorgeous state has to offer. It was a drastic change from what most of us were used to but a good, refreshing change none-the-less. The lovely trees and flowing river will be missed by anyone who attended the festival when it was at Shadow’s Ranch in Georgetown, but with this change comes a new picture that will capture your wildest imagination. I’ve personally lived in top ski towns like Vail and Breckenridge and would say the imagery we had at American Safari Ranch is untouchable. Literally surrounded by a 360 degree view of mountains in a wide open valley, American Safari Ranch is now home to the prettiest festival in the country, our Sonic Bloom.

Fest goers being festive. Check out the unicorn!

Fest goers being festive. Check out the unicorn!

The music- as predicted- was top notch, with something for everyone. Tipper played some of the best sets I’ve ever seen on Friday and Saturday night with some help from the ever so creative Android Jones on the visuals. When I say some of the best sets, I mean it. With the crowd pulsing with energy, the Function One sound system so crisp and pounding with bass, your senses were put on overload and at points throughout the sets, you felt nothing but a euphoric sense of amazingness. Those sounds that came through those speakers twisted my brain and tickled my ear drums, and my face has never hurt so bad from smiling as much as I did, along with everyone else that weekend.  Opiou, the Austrailian badass, laid down some super funky tracks that made you keep moving even if you tried to stop. Quixotic Fusion, the Kansas City multi-talented performance team, took our breath away. The visuals they had were out of this world cool and the dancers shined like Goddesses. The actual artists performing were playing from the heart and feeding off the crowd.  I had never heard of Quixotic before their set on Saturday night, and I’m now a fan forever. This is one of the biggest surprises I had all weekend and I recommend anyone reading this to take a look and see them live, maybe at Red Rocks with Tipper?

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David Sugalski aka the Polish Ambassador crushing it.

Every single performer brought their A game and then some. Michael Menert Big Band was so new and the Bloom family noticed. Menert plays with passion and it appears every time he gets on stage. Being a Colorado native, and playing in front of the home crowd would be nothing but a special moment and I was lucky enough to capture that on film. Another funky artist we had the pleasure of seeing, was the craziest man in a onesie, the ever so funky, Polish Ambassador. This guy’s sets never get old and are always a blast to be apart of. With so much talent on one bill, it makes it extremely difficult to write about every artist and what they brought to the table. So to sum it all up for you readers out there and festival goers everywhere, Sonic Bloom has, and always will have an amazing lineup with only the best talent, all while keeping it out of the mainstream light and still offering that small festival vibe.

Live painting graced the land.

Live painting graced the land.

With that being said, the Silent Frisco was my favorite part of the festival. The musicians that played there had some of the funnest and funniest music I’ve ever heard, and turning those headphones off was a whole new reason to laugh. Without your headphones, all you could hear was people singing, laughing and the sound of dancing feet. My buddy, Mikey Thunder and friends Motion Potion, Mancub, Pumpkin and more, kept those beats playing until the early morning, when we were able to see the most fantastic sunrises ever.

Another huge perk of Sonic Bloom is the amazing production work that goes into creating their various stages. The CO Dome was heaven for the senses blasting sounds from one of the best Function One set ups Colorado has ever seen. So good you can dance with the speakers, but you should still wear ear plugs to be safe. This stage was host to many genres of music and provided something for everyone in attendance. Acts like Michael Menert, the Desert Dwellers, Paul Basic, Birds of Paradise, and Plantrae were a few of the very talented artists that played at this wonderful stage.

Magic in the sky; aerialist during Ott.

Magic in the sky; aerialist during Ott.

The Hummingbird stage was put together amazingly and offered a great intimate feel to dance to. This was the smallest stage of them all and was a nice place to retreat and take a moment to catch your breath, all while hearing top tracks from The Human Experience, Krooked Drivers, Skytree, and Prophet Massive, to name a few.

The Bloom Stage (main stage) had the best backdrop ever- with the mountains towering behind the scene- and a sound system that only a few can say they’ve ever heard. When the sun went down, the skies turned bright orange and gave us a natural show of beauty. Quantic, Benji Vaughan, and Break Science were a few acts that played during those emotional sunsets. I simply can’t get over the colors of the sky that we were so lucky to see that weekend. The sounds, to the stage production were nothing but the best and we had so much room to dance our hearts away. I can’t forget to mention once again that Tipper was absolutely insane to the fullest- and best- extent of the word.  Along with OTT and the Sonic Bloom Orchestra closing out the main stage, I would have to say the production team outdid themselves with the Bloom Stage.

Tapping in so to tap out -into sound- later

Tapping in so to tap out -into sound- later.

The Lotus Temple was perfect for an escape and a place of rest for many. At times, it reminded me of being home on the playa at Burning Man which is always special, but it still had its own identity. This was the spot where morning yoga was performed along with workshops from people like Ayla Nereo (Singing Life: Finding Your Voice), and Deb Rubin (Tribal Fusion Belly Dancing), (I did not partake in this particular activity- maybe next year!). Teachers from all over the country came to Bloom this year to spread light and positivity on all of us. This was a treat to have at Bloom this year and the family seemed to enjoy what was offered; a lot of us participated which was great. I personally did yoga in the mornings to stretch my legs and body from countless hours of dancing. It was nice to rest at the Lotus Temple because it was a place of peace and open arms from many. You could crawl into each dome and see something new and make even more friends every time you went. The Lotus Temple was a great touch to this years Bloom.  Not to mention the hand-woven 70’ dreamcatcher in the middle of it all.

Backdrop perfection

Backdrop perfection.

As the festivities went on, the skies shined with stars that got brighter each passing night, and when those stars started to disappear a new light came over the horizon. With a magnificent display of pinks and reds the sky was lit in a way I’ve never seen before.  Sunday morning was emotionally one of the best moments of my entire life. With killer tracks from Mancub and Motion Potion, the music was so fitting for the moment. And who could possibly ever go wrong with hearing the Talking Heads “This must be the place” during the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen in my 24 years of life? People were crying and hugging, just appreciating what we were witness to. The mountains can change you and show you things that you don’t see in the “real” world. To see that scene with all those friends around me is something I’ll always remember.  Just writing about it brings tears of joy to my eyes as I think back on a memory that will be with me for life.

Beautiful skies all weekend. MELT!

Beautiful skies all weekend. MELT!

Sonic Bloom 2014 really hit the spot, and felt like home even though it was in a new location. As the weekend progressed and I talked to more people who have been to Shadow’s Ranch and the original spot in Mishawaka, questions had to be asked on what they thought of our new spot at American Safari Ranch. There were a lot of mixed feelings about not having trees, a pond and river anymore and that the new location might be too big for a festival that a lot of people want to keep small. I completely understand where they were coming from, since I went to the final year at Shadow’s Ranch last year. This new location, however, is stunning and gives off a totally different energy than last year.  Growth gives more opportunity to grow our community. We all want the same thing in keeping Bloom special and some of us may be scared of change- which is natural. Sonic Bloom is what we make of it. It’s up to the veteran Bloomers to take control and educate the new comers to ensure we keep this festival clean and majestic. To teach new faces to uphold the respect for our fellow festival goers and to make sure we all have a wonderful, magical, unforgettable time.

This festival has so much to offer and I truly believe it can get even better. Our scenery was unbelievable, the people oh-so-beautiful, and the music was the kind that keeps your feet moving until the sun comes up and the bacon starts frying.  If you missed Sonic Bloom this year, you won’t want to be in the sidelines again next year! It’s our community so lets make great things happen. This was a life changer so let’s keep it special for years to come.  Many thanks to everyone who helped create such a magical place for us to call home this year.

 

530551_10201756015520082_533777691_n < This piece was written by Shaun Kukla.

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