Swomp Out at Aura !
18 Mar 2012

The Author

Profile photo of Jessica Dugan
>>>Dream Chaser Activist * Live Music Enthusiast * Cannabis Industry Expert *Sparkle Spreader * Mindfulness Teacher * Yogi Artist with a Mermaid Soul <<<


Aura Music and Arts Festival was held in St. Cloud, FL on the beautiful Forever Florida Eco Ranch. The grounds themselves were flourishing with life in every direction and upon entering we came in close contact with a series of creatures including majestic peacocks and happily grazing cattle.  It was a great entrance to our first festival of the season.

As we headed further in through the terrain, Mother Nature threatened us with cumulonimbus clouds. It’s been said before that, “the best way to handle a challenge is to embrace it as an opportunity,” and that’s exactly what Sparkleberry Lane did during the monsoon that poured down on our campsite just seconds after the last few tent stakes were hammered into the earth. Dealing with severe weather conditions at a festival can be a serious mental endeavor for anyone sleeping in a tent, which is why optimism is a crucial ingredient when you’re stuck under your E-Z Up in the rain. Even though the first wave of water washed out a few acts, there was no lack of optimism on Sparkleberry Lane, and the downpour provided us with a special bonding moment with new friends and neighbors huddled under our E-Z Up.

Painting my Chris Jaxtheimer

When the rain let up slightly, several of us scooped up an umbrella and headed for the Art tent to say hello and mingle with some of our favorite visual artists. When we arrived, the tent was beaming with impressive, other-worldly art work and all eyes were glued to the tarp’s inner walls. Christian Jaxtheimer’s works were a favorite of many and every one of his pieces introduced a ray of light deep with in the dark trenches of his tribal paintings.  His work, in a way, symbolized romance and introduced the idea of eroticism with just a simple glance. Laura Sellers, another impressive artist, represented a mixed media background, and throughout the festival invented a hot air balloon wonderland floating mystically within the texts of Charles Dickinson’s “A Tale of Two Cities.” Her work was as elegant as her personality and it truly was a pleasure to finally see her creations off the computer screen and up close and personal. Live Painter, Andrew Wagner, painted brilliant illusions; his works portrayed an amazing technical skill, with neon painted-pixilated backgrounds.  During the fest, Andrew and other painters painted under color-changing lights, creating a mystifying, constantly fluctuating scene for the onlooker.  Andrew’s work, along with Allie Pristas’ animated creations gave the onlooker time to reflect on how powerful the animal kingdom is- the word “fierce” came to mind looking at Andrew’s gorilla painting, and Allie’s colorful owl was simply majestic.  To the right of Andrew in the artist’s tent was a meticulously painting Andy Reed.  Andy is a soft-spoken gentleman, and interacting with him is as soothing as drifting off into one of his paintings.  His work has many dimensions and it’s a pleasure to travel through them with him live.

Andrew Wagner photo by Ryan Shinn

The first act we got to see Friday night when the rain finally stopped was Brother Bean, a classic jam crew we haven’t seen around very often these days.  They were a great way to open up the festival and they brought with them a solid groove.  Afterwards, some of our crew found Dopapod’s sound to be a bit irksome on the ears, so they headed over to BioDiesel on the Brotherly Love Productions stage.  This smaller side-stage brought the most variety of the weekend, and BioDiesel, with Johnny Rabb holdin it down on drums, brought a much needed electro groove, with a yummy dose of bass to the night.

The Heavy Pets are one of Florida’s favorite jam bands, and you could tell they were in their element Friday night.  Their sound was solid and well organized, and we enjoyed the set.  Some of the girls found their style a little lack luster, but they warmed up festival-goers, bringing them together in a great way.  The last set we caught that night was DrFameus with Allen Aucoin of the Disco Biscuits and some guy DJ’in, and we have to

Uttanasana photo by Max Klein

admit that it wasn’t our favorite thing in the world.  Allen is an amazing drummer, but his DJ was laying down some irritating noises chopped up into beats and looping them over and over and over.  Allen seemed to drum the same bars for the whole hour and a half set.  He was much better the night before in Charleston, SC, on his own.  We love you Allen! And we can’t wait to see how DrFameus evolves on tour this year, just leave that guy at home next time.

On Saturday morning, as blankets began to dry beneath the warmth of the sun, Sparkleberry Lane migrated to Tribal Council’s sacred space to kick start our days with a refreshing, chakra-focused yoga class. Kelly Searcy, Joaquin De Teresa, and Bernardo Valero, of Miami, collaborated with DJ Narayan to produce an incredible class filled with heart and soul and beats to match. Being able to flip upside down and recharge fully for the day and night is invaluable at a music festival, and the Sparkleberry ladies vow to practice at every festival from now on! (Join us!)  After the asana practice, the yogis gathered in Tribal Council’s dome for some empowering chanting.  We can’t imagine a better way to connect to positivity and light, and we are grateful for the experience!

Tribal Council’s Dome photo by Max Klein

Psychedelphia was a nice way to start the day on the Touch of Class stage.  Their sound is, like, VERY Phish-esque, which we can appreciate cuz we love Phish.  Plus with all the electronica experimentation or (lack there-of) going on that weekend, a lil’ classic jam style lovin’ felt just right.  If you like Phish, definitely check this band out.  Something most people in attendance at Aura DIDN’T get to see but totally SHOULD HAVE (we know this cuz we were 2 of 7 people in the crowd for their set, was Ketchy Shuby on the BLP stage.  Ketchy Shuby is an amazing Jazzsoulfunkfusion group from Miami, and their sound is extremely diverse, uplifting, and theatrical.  Their lead singer loves the ladies and love making, and made that clear as he serenaded us with a couple of his sexy heart throbbing songs (complete with sexy ground-hump action).  Their whole set just stuck with us for being so fun and fresh and UNIQUE and we love them and you will too if you look them up.

A Thomas Robertson-Forrest painting in creation…Sparkleberry inspired, maybe!photo by Sava

Special Thanks to Free Lovin’ Foodery, a food tent with great vegetarian options, a big menu, and way reasonable prices.  We recommend the Reunion Pour, a vegan coconut curry dish (which was enjoyed during Ketchy Shuby), and the Big Gigantic Burrito, which tastes just as good as the band sounds!  We also gotta give a shout out to the Buzz Through coffee/tea truck, which kept us supplied with non-illegal energy all weekend.  They even had Yerba Mate!  Which we forgot at home.  And sometimes you just need an iced-coffee at 2 AM- they were there for us.

AND huge thanks to Dunedin Brewery for bringing that extra special treat of delicious, custom brews to the fest.  They kept us drinking in style by serving heady ass delicious craft beer, which included a mouthwatering Apricot and delicious Coffee beer all weekend. Yum!

Most of us didn’t stick around for Dopapod’s Saturday set, nor the second Heavy Pets set that day.  Saturday evening, one of the Sparkle ladies went to check out her home town of Richmond’s favorite band, Former Champions on the always ragin’ BLP Stage.  They come from a city that loves Bisco

Brothers Past photo by Sava

religiously, and they throw down for Bisco fans weekly, so we know their sound can’t suck.  And indeed, they were one of the highlights of the weekend.  Their jams had peaks and drops, two things we struggled to decipher in most of the jamtronica sets from the weekend.  Former Champs exhibited a lot of skill with the style of electro jam, and we hope to see more of them on festival lineups in the future!  Before the end of their set, out of the blue, a fun and playful group of fest goers rolled through with a rainbow parachute that they spread out in a rainbow circle and started waving up and down, 5th grade recess style.  Glow sticks bounced on top, and giddy kids laid on their backs underneath- reminding us of the importance and ease of getting in touch with your inner child 🙂

Brother’s Past laid down 2 long, solid sets that night, and while we didn’t get to see all of it, it sounded like the first set was more jam, while the second was more electronic, and we can appreciate the variety.  Their energy definitely gets the crowd going.  Papadosio,

Papadosio photo by Max Klein

however, definitely stole Saturday.  They fuckin killed it!  With an awesomely danceable groove, and skillful transitions between melodies and songs, they quickly won our hearts. We really loved how they subtly wove in positive messages into their on-stage visuals and their songs’ lyrics.  2012 is sure to treat Papadosio well.  We were super bummed to miss them on Sunday, especially after such an awesome performance, but they left on a high note in our book.

The sky on Saturday night was absolutely breathtaking.  Thousands of stars punctuated the darkness around us and beamed brighter than we often see them. Jupiter, Venus, and Mars also made prominent appearances before the epic moon-rise, and even though our feet were on the ground, we felt entirely in outer-space.

Glow! photo by Max Klein

Zoogma ended our nights and left our cups only half full. We can agree to disagree, but this band just didn’t do it for us Saturday night.  Their sound is not well organized, and it seems to be that they over use the synth along with too many high-pitched noises.  (We know our ability to describe music technically is not so technical, but hey, we speak from the heart and the ears!) The random pop songs thrown in didn’t do much to save their sound, and the Touch of Class stage was just ridiculously loud, making their set all the more difficult to sit through, so we headed to bed on that note.

When we awoke Sunday morning, we found ourselves in a sticky situation, with puddles forming around the outer zippers of our tent’s entrance. Waking up to a rainstorm is never really a good thing and as optimistic as we could be the weather radar showed no signs of the rain letting up and the sky was an impenetrable gray.  When our shelter slowly began to dismantle, we made a unanimous vote to say peace out Aura, we love you.  For some of us, home was just too far, and for others, home was just too close.

Until Next Year! photo by Jess Dugan

Although Sparkleberry Lane loves jamtronic music, it would have been nice to see a little more diversity on Aura’s line up.  With so much good music floating around, there’s no reason why any one specific genre should dominate a schedule.  Aura is the perfect place for unknown, yet undeniable new talent to be discovered, and for a few bigger name bands to get down to earth with a few good fans.   Collaboration and diversity are key elements to a successful event and we would really love to see something out of the ordinary on next year’s line up!

But as always, Thank You for the chance to chill with our homies from all around!


Sparkleberry Lane

<<This article was collaboratively written by your girls, Christina and Jessica. You too can contribute to Sparkleberrylane.com! For more information on how to get involved please contact us at Sparkleberrylane@gmail.com!




Check out this cool video Christina took: Hoopers, Painters, and Musicians- BP @ Aura

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