I’m glad I didn’t have something better to do

“I was driving home in Detroit one day, and Brendan Benson, who is a singer in this band, asked me if I could stop by after lunch and help him with this song. I said okay because I had nothing better to do. This is a warning to anybody who has something better to do. The great actor Johnny Depp once drove his friend to an audition. His friend did not get the part, but the director said, ‘What are you doing?’ and Johnny Depp starred in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Well I’m glad he didn’t have something better to do. Albert Einstein was a Swiss Patent Clerk who was expected to crunch numbers all day. In his spare time, well, I guess he just explained to you why you’re here. I’m glad he didn’t have something better to do. I gather that some of you are in college right now…I hope you pay attention because even if you become some sort of businessman or lawyer or something like that…I hope you think about this sentence, ‘I’m glad I didn’t have something better to do.’ Can you agree with me on that? No matter what happens tonight can we at least agree on that?” -Jack White during his headlining Bonnaroo set Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Do you really have something better to do? Or are you just making excuses?

 

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Please Bring Positivity

This past summer was another whirlwind of campgrounds, music festivals, rest stops and skylines. I spent another summer working for the Clean Vibes Trading Post, educating festival-goers about the importance of composting and recycling. When I wasn’t working at music festivals, I was road-tripping across the United States in my comforting and stately Subaru.

After traveling in Costa Rica for five months it was enthralling to embrace the places my home country has to offer. From almost getting caught in a tornado in Nebraska, to eating fresh Salmon jerky in Northern California to waking up in the redwoods, I fell more in love with the world around me.

I said farewell to summer and danced in the beginning of Autumn at Symbiosis Gathering, a celebration of life with music, live art, permaculture workshops, yoga, dance, and much more.

Symbiosis was filled with magical moments, and I wanted to share my favorite one.

Just before sunrise on the last day of Symbiosis I peeked into a small geodesic dome where a group of friends were all cuddled together in a circle. They invited me in, and I instantly felt warm, welcomed and accepted. As I drifted to sleep a song started playing in the background. “We are so blessed,” one of the friends said. Everything about the moment was so beautiful that I couldn’t help but cry. Light was approaching in the sky so the friends left to watch the sunrise. But first they put a pillow under my head and tucked me in. “When she wakes up she’s going to wonder if this was all a dream,” one of them said as he kissed my forehead. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. Thank you so much Chakra Activation Portals for providing a space where magic can happen.

I hope this song reminds you of the immense joy and healing music brings.

2012 Year in Review: Concerts

As I think back on the concerts I went to this year, a few moments stick out to me more than others. I think of the moments when my friends and I were completely captured by bands, carelessly dancing and singing along, moments when the musicians cast a spell on the whole audience and left everyone in awe, moments when no one in the audience said a word but attentively watched, moments when I was moved to tears. I think of the moments when the music united everyone, and everything else in life melted away.

Here are a few samples of those moments. In no particular order, I present my favorite performances of 2012.

(Note: These are all videos I found on youtube. I didn’t create any of them. I couldn’t include everything I wanted because I couldn’t find some performances online.)

1. Stevie Wonder at Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco

I hate to sound cliche, but seeing Stevie Wonder perform live was literally a dream come true. I didn’t get to see his whole performance because I was working, but I was able to catch his last song. Because we couldn’t manage our way through the crowd to clean-up, all my friends and I were able to take a quick break to share the joy of the show. I’ll remember this moment for a long time.

2. The last song at the Love for Levon concert

Speaking of dreams coming true, this one tops all others. The Love for Levon concert was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. It was a tribute concert for the late, great drummer Levon Helm who died earlier this year. I’ve never seen so many living legends at the same place before. Gregg Allman, Roger Waters, Bruce Hornsby, Mavis Staples, John Prine, Joan Osborne, John Hiatt, Jorma Kaukonen, Garth Hudson and on and on and on. For the last song, the entire cast gathered on stage to sing, “The Weight.”

3. Mumford & Sons and friends at the Gentlemen of the Road Portland Stopover Tour

This whole concert was absolutely incredible. Mumford & Sons always leave me in awe when I see them live. Here’s another encore that paid tribute to Levon Helm. There’s just something so pure and magnetic about the energy that’s created when tons of musicians perform on stage at once.

4.Roger Waters and My Morning Jacket at the Love for Levon show

So on point.

5. Grace Potter covering Bob Dylan at the Love for Levon show

Too much talent there that night. I love Grace Potter and this is one of my all-time favorite songs.

6. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister at the 9:30 Club in D.C.

I wasn’t at this performance (the one in the video), but I couldn’t find any live videos from the performance I was at. HMBSMS performed at one of the first shows I saw in 2012, and I’ve been addicted to them since. This video gives you a glimpse of their foot-stomping, hand-clapping energy.

7. Radiohead at Bonnaroo Music Festival

My favorite performance of Bonnaroo. They had such a cool stage setup.

8. Mergence at Apache Lake Music Festival

I wasn’t at the concert in the video, but I couldn’t find any videos of Mergence from Apache Lake Music Festival and I had to include them. They closed the main stage of the festival, and their whole performance was one of my favorites of this year. When I mentioned performances that completely captured the crowd, I was thinking of Mergence’s performance at Apache Lake. The whole crowd cheered them back on stage for an encore. It’s fair to say that almost everyone was singing along and going crazy when they played “Dynamite & Kerosene.”

9. Delta Spirit at Webster Hall

This whole performance was very solid. Lots of high energy and the crowd was into it the whole time.

10. Ludacris at Bonnaroo Music Festival

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a huge Luda fan. When rap was my genre of choice in middle school, Luda was one of the kings. At Bonnaroo all my friends and I watched Luda from the grass, outside of the tent. This performance is partly included because of the fun we had. It was the first show of Bonnaroo where we were all together, just being silly and singing along. I left the show to watch Dawes, but I heard Luda singing this, I started cracking up, and I had to run back.

11. Taking Back Sunday at Terminal 5

One of my favorite concerts of the year. You can find out why by reading my blog post about it here.

Favorite performances that I couldn’t find videos of:

-All of GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg (Highlights: Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks UnlimitedPreston Frank & his Zydeco Family BandDonna the BuffaloSim Redmond BandThe Campbell BrothersThe Makepeace BrothersDriftwood.)

-Soul Train Revival at the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco

-Son Boom at Evolve Music Festival in NJ

-Phish in Atlantic City

-And I can’t forget the way I rang in 2012: Dark Star Orchestra at Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ.

June as a festival whirlwind

That started in Tennessee and ended in Vermont. Now, weeks later, everything rushes back to me as it simultaneously fades away.

Where did I go? What did I do? Who did I meet? What happened?

The basic answers flash in my mind, but the other ones take more digging. Looking back on traveling is like that. Certain moments shine so vividly, when you think about them, it’s like you’re reliving them all around you. But others inevitably dissolve. At the end, it feels like everything happened so fast; it’s like it never happened at all. At the same time everything was so incredibly real, raw, present. I guess it’s a mixture of both. When I look back, I just can’t believe that it’s already over (over in one sense of the word, anyway).

Isn’t life like that most of the time? Sometimes you have these in-your-face real moments where you’ve never felt more alive, where you’re just yourself. You’re reaching out for all those colors around you, and you’re actually catching them. And you go with it. Other days I just seem to fall into the spaces between the second hand tick. The in-your-face alive moments are the ones I remember. The ones I strive for.

We left for Tennessee the first weekend of June. Four of us stuffed into an old Subaru. We drove roads that paralleled the highways. We made frequent stops to let the car cool. We spent hours in Virginia lounging roadside and riverside.

When we arrived at Clean Vibes’ headquarters to work the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, emotions of all types flooded me. I was so grateful to be out of the car; I was overjoyed to be reunited with friends. Mainly, it was happiness. Clean Vibes employees live all over the country. The only time we’re all in the same place is Bonnaroo. I hadn’t seen many Clean Vibers since last summer. Tears broke in my eyes as I hugged old friends.

Clean Vibers are a special breed of people. How many people you know would pickup trash as a job? Would pickup schwilly, nasty bags of poop, god only knows whats and thousands of cigarette butts? No matter the weather conditions: streaming sunshine, pouring rain.

When I explain my job to other people they give me a strange look at first. “I’m pretty much a garbage lady at music festivals,” isn’t something you hear everyday. Clean Vibers are some of the most open-minded people I’ve ever met. Adventurers. Risk takers. Road Less Traveleders. Beautiful in every sense of the word. People with different backgrounds and hometowns coming together to make the world a better place, one cigarette butt off the ground at a time. Part of the reason I pickup trash is because of the amazing people I work with.

Where we camp

The Main Stage

Radiate Positivity: one of Bonnaroo’s themes

The whole gang-she-bang

We camp at Bonnaroo until all of the garbage is picked up and the 700-acre farm is more spotless than it was before the festival started. The cleanup can take a couple weeks. We live together, work together, eat in catering together, shower in stalls beside each other, party together, play together. Forget alone time and personal space. Needless to say you become a family fairly quickly.

This year at Bonnaroo I worked at the Clean Vibes Trading Post.

Here I am working the Trading Post for Clean Vibes

The Trading Post is a recycling based initiative program that promotes sustainability by encouraging festival-goers to recycle. We set-up a booth in Planetroo that’s pretty much a recycling arcade. Festival-goers bring us their recycling and in return they win prizes such as synergy clothing, platypus water bottles, concert tickets and many more. I loved spreading the word about Clean Vibes and encouraging people to help keep the scene clean. For more information about the Trading Post check out their website here.

Because I was tired most days after work, I didn’t see that much music at Bonnaroo. I saw bits and pieces of Soja, Rubblebucket, Feist, Ludacris, Dawes, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Phish. I loved walking around by myself, but I also loved being with a crew of Clean Vibers and dancing our butts off. My favorite part of Bonnaroo was the day after Bonnaroo at the staff party. There’s a DJ, karaoke, free booze, free food, the most crawfish you’ve ever seen and lots and lots of dancing.

Crawfish forever

After working three days of post-show cleanup we said goodbye to Tennesee and drove 13 straight hours overnight to Atlantic City, NJ, to work the next show, Phish. Phish played a three night run at Bader Field. Most of our crew worked the 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift.

Phish fans are some of the most respectful fans I’ve ever encountered. So many people came up to us to ask what we were doing, to thank us, and to throw away their garbage. So many fans were extremely grateful and appreciative of our efforts. Who doesn’t like feeling appreciated? Thank you Phish fans. I appreciate you and your appreciation.

Last summer when I worked my first Phish festival, Superbowl, I learned that Phish is much more than a band. I started to understand what they were all about and why thousands of people devote their lives to following Phish around. Phish is the community of people it brings together. Phish is the feeling and energy the fans create. Phish is being kind to strangers and accepting everyone. Phish is unifying. Phish is letting your freak flag fly.

Saturday morning after finishing work at 5 a.m. a bunch of us, the now dubbed ‘Breakfast Club,’ decided to explore AC. We visited one of our friends at a penthouse suite at the Chelsea Hotel; we frolicked on the roof of the Chelsea Hotel; we may or may not have gotten kicked out of some casinos and a bar, but we had an absolute blast.

Things can get a little blurry around 7 a.m.

The Breakfast Club

A few hours later we woke up, started work at 4 p.m. and worked until there was no more trash on the ground. Going into the shift we were presented with the ambiguous time of ‘no more trash on the ground.’ Well, that ended up being until noon on Monday. We worked a 2o hour shift from 4 p.m. on Sunday until noon on Monday. By the time the sun comes up, you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. By that point I was delusional off of lack of sleep and all night work. But we all stuck it out and made it through together. Luckily we had each other for encouragement, silliness and love.

One morning before work my lovely lady friend and fellow Clean Viber, Angel happened to be outside talking on the phone at the same time I was. When she hung up she ran over to me and exclaimed, “I have a dream come true offer for you.” She offered me her Artist Hospitality position at the yoga and music festival Wanderlust in Vermont the following weekend. How could I refuse? Seize opportunities. After Phish I went home for a few days and then ventured to Vermont to be swept away in a land of yogis and more good vibes.

Part of the program

At Wanderlust I worked as an assistant to the head of artist hospitality. Our job was to cater to all of the artists’ needs. We food shopped for them, set up the green room, shuttled them to and from stages, filled coolers and did pretty much whatever they needed. By artists I mean Ziggy Marley, Ani DiFranco and Beats Antique. They were the headliners of the festival.

I was so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful festival in such a beautiful part of the world. The festival took place in the Green Mountains at Stratton Mountain Resort.

My ‘office’

I love everything about Vermont and I loved everything about Wanderlust.

A whole program filled with active activities!

Everyday (from Thursday to Sunday) there were guided hikes, multiple yoga classes, live music, lectures and more.

A description of the fest from their website, “Wanderlust is a one-of-a-kind festival bringing together the world’s leading yoga teachers, top musical acts and DJs, renowned speakers, top chefs and winemakers, and much, much more — all in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty. We’re talking about fun in the sun and dancing under the stars. Hiking on peaceful trails and gettin’ your down dog on at the top of the mountain. Sipping poolside cocktails with your friends, and then enjoying a tasty farm-to-table dinner with views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Early morning meditations and all-night chakra spinning musical performances – it’s an all-out ecstatic celebration in the most awe-inspiring locations in the world.”

I was pretty much in Heaven. It’s not too late to experience Wanderlust either! The fest is traveling to different parts of America and Canada. Wander to their website for more information.

I took a class called, “Unleash Your Inner Goddess” with Jennilee Toner. It was the best class I ever took out of any type of anything I’ve ever taken. After the class I felt invigorated, spiritually charged, empowered, connected, strong, loved, happy, refreshed, closer to the Universe, and ecstatic about life, love and the endless possibilities of this beautiful world we live in. It was just what I needed. I highly recommend this class to each and every person. Definitely check out Jennilee’s website and biography. She is such an inspiring person. If you’re ever in the Ballston Spa area in NY check out her studio.

As I finish typing this blog, I’m sitting on the floor of my childhood room gazing out the window at the tops of trees and bottoms of clouds. I’m thinking about those four questions I started the blog off with:

Where did I go? What did I do? Who did I meet? What happened?

Music festivals open up my eyes. After them I realize that I didn’t just go to festivals, but I escaped to a glimpse of what life can be when people strip away their insecurities, fears and doubts. When people join together in dancing, in stretching, in love. When people spend time outside, when people embrace their surroundings. I danced. I played. I loved. I woke up from the doldrums of everyday life. Life happened and it’s just going to keep happening. I’m going to strive to bring pieces of festival happiness into my everyday life and strive to constantly be alert and aware.

Namaste with love and light,

GrassRoots: 2009

During my second semester of my junior year (around February 2010) I submitted a non-fiction essay about GrassRoots to The Blue Guitar Magazine. The issue’s just been published online. Check out my essay and the other wonderful writing here. My essay’s on pages 50-51.

My essay’s about my GrassRoots experience in 2009. I just got out of a serious relationship, and I was in a really broken place. Going to GrassRoots and being surrounded by so much love helped heal me in so many ways.

In case you don’t venture over to the website, here’s the essay:

Healed by the Beat of the Drum

“To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.

This is power, it is glory on Earth and it is yours for the taking.”

— Agnes De Mille

Waking up in the same pajamas I’ve been wearing the past five days, I have no desire to leave my bed even as the afternoon sun beats down outside my window. My whole world had come to a crashing halt when my boyfriend confessed he’d fallen out of love with me. Even my bedroom in the house I grew up in — surrounded by pictures of friends, bands and art — couldn’t offer any comfort.

I needed to escape the prison of loneliness, so I fled to my favorite music festival: GrassRoots. Held in upstate New York, GrassRoots is a four-day spectacle of partying, camping and listening to bands from all over the world. The eclectic mix of music ranges from Native American folk and Peruvian electronica to rock, bluegrass, soul, reggae and rockabilly. Because the camping is in tight quarters, festival-goers share food, alcohol, blankets and all other belongings. By the end of the festival, neighbors become family, and strangers become lifetime friends.

Noises in the night

Lying in my tent, I can’t fall asleep, even after an exhausting day of dancing and drinking at the festival. Shrieks, screams, howls, drumbeats and laughter erupt from the woods. The noises call to the wind, to the world, to the wild. A rush of electricity buzzes in my brain. One more “I yi yiiiii!” stabs into my ears, and I leap up. I need to join the people creating the noise.

It’s the first night of the festival, and everyone’s welcoming the darkness with music. As I walk barefoot into the woods, a couple greet me: “Hi friend! Happy GrassRoots!” They share the shine of their flashlight as we drift from campsite to campsite.

People I’ve never met smile and hug me when I walk by. They’re eager to share their belongings. “Hey friend, great to see you! Have a glow stick.” “Hi beautiful, would you like any food?” Their kindness is overwhelming.

As we approach the drum circle, I understand why everyone is still awake. A painted naked woman holds a tambourine with one hand and claps her fingers to her mouth with the other. Her knotty hair sways as she sits cross-legged on the dirt. Next to her, a man attacks the bongo drum with his fingers.

Glancing at the crowd, I realize these people are no different than me. They too have work on Monday. The guy dancing naked hollering in the drum circle will be in a suit waiting for the Metro on Monday morning.  They too have jobs in cubicles, work the monotonous 9-5, cook meals and wash laundry. They too could be suffering broken hearts.

But at this instant, none of that matters. For these stolen moments they have a chance to really just be.

The power of music

In the morning the sun pierces my tent. Crawling out, I stretch and change into my rainbow-hued bathing suit top and wrap a blue sarong with bright sunflowers around my waist. I place my favorite hat from when I was 7 on my head: a pink-and-red beaded veil with long white lace that falls down my back. I head to the festival to prepare for the Happiness Day Parade.

At the festival grounds I look for Ryan, the artist who’d painted my body the year before. He’s in the same spot, next to a maple tree outside the Happiness Day Parade headquarters, a barn filled with medieval costumes and capes for anyone to borrow.

Smiling as he sees me, Ryan says, “Come here, you goddess! Let me paint you.”

With a brush, Ryan splashes lines of blue and green across my shoulders and down my arms. He presses a small dish drainer around my forehead and airbrushes pink against the holes. In the middle of my forehead he sticks a silver-colored gem. With an assortment of other kitchen instruments and metal scraps he airbrushes the rest of my upper body and draws a lime green heart under my collar bones.

“Now that you look beautiful, you better get out there and dance like crazy,” Ryan says.

“Oh, I will,” I reply. Thinking, you have no idea.

After the parade I meet up with friends from home, and we’re instantly pulled to the sound of loud bongo drumming. We run right up to the main stage and see four African-American men shining in long, bright blue dresses. It’s the band Samite of Uganda. The frontman Samite wails tribal African songs as the percussion section bloomswith conga drums, bongos and native African madinas and kalimbas.

My body starts to move in ways I can’t even comprehend. My arms propel up and down, left and right. I bend close to the ground, spin on my toes and plunge into the air, all the while swinging and stomping to the beat of the drum. Sweat slides across my face, in between my knees. Paint drips down my forehead. My heart thumps louder and wilder with every beat. The music rattles my senses.

People around us join our circle. We just look at each other—laughing, smiling, twirling into a perpetual state of bliss. The 6-foot-tall man in front of me dances in his huge black top hat and long, sparkly wizard cape. The girl next to him, feathers and flowers in her hair, spins in her bright purple, orange, yellow and blue dress.

On the stage I see Ryan dancing and laughing with his friends. Our eyes meet. He jumps off the stage, shimmies over to me, eyes fiery with excitement, and shouts, “You’re doing it! You’re doing it! You’re getting crazy!” He grabs my hand and pulls me on stage.

As we dance next to the band, euphoria rushes through me. My body no longer belongs to me—some other force takes over.

Nothing matters except that moment. I am infinite.

My wizard friend dances on the other side of the stage. He pulls off his hat, shakes his head and dreadlocks tumble out down to his knees. The crowd roars.

As the music stops, I can’t even breathe. Floating in a trance, I walk off stage and bump into the wizard.

“I saw you dancing up there, getting down!” he says.

“Yeah, I saw you shaking out all your dreads.”

He looks at me, snaps his fingers side to side and starts singing, “Life just keeps getting better. Life just keeps getting better.”

A smile sprouts in my heart and conquers my whole face. All the loneliness from the break-up with my boyfriend disintegrates. Laughing wildly, I join in: “Life just keeps getter better. Life just keeps getting better.”

And even if for a moment, I knew it would.

GrassRoots: The Music

The music at GrassRoots ranges from reggae to zydeco to rock to folk to sitting-on-your-front-porch-drinking-a-beer-bluegrass. For the most part it’s all feel-good, get off your butt and dance kind of music for all ages. There are two main stages, a dance tent and a cabaret stage in a building that’s similar to a barn.

Here’s a playlist with some of my favorite performances from this year. The options on the search engine were pretty limited, but press play to gain an idea of the sounds of GrassRoots.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Read about my favorite performances while you listen:

-Donna the Buffalo:

A five-piece band infused with old-time music, mountain music, blues, rock, reggae, Cajun, folk and bluegrass. After every song, the female vocalist changes instruments: scrubboard, accordion, fiddle, guitar. I’ve never seen someone get as lost in the music as Jeb, the frontman, does. His eyes close, his mouth opens, and he’s in another world.

To quote from the GrassRoots program, “Like the herd’s trail across the prairie, Donna the Buffalo will make her mark in your heart.”

Favorite songs they played:

“Positive Friction” lyrics:

“Positive friction, under the upper crust/What does all this Hollywood really have to do with us/True grit, timeless love/There’s no reason to pretend/Lets get together and become natural once again/Natural once again…./There is a certain vibe, circulating in the air/Cast from all the energy that emanates from everywhere”

“Locket and Key” lyrics:

“There must be something in the moon and stars keeping it together when we’re falling apart.” <there must be 🙂

Check out their website here.

-Arrested Development

We were hip-hoping all over the place to their positive tunes. Most of our camp was together to watch them so it was even better.

Favorite songs:

“Ease my mind” –I need some time to ease my mind, I need some time.

“Tennessee” lyrics: “Take me to another place, take me to another land, Make me forget all that hurts me, let me understand your plan.”

Dear Arrested Development, watching your set, I forgot all that hurts me, and I was most definitely in another land. After their set, we shook hands with the whole band as they reached into the audience.

-Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

“GPGDS combine the hypnotic sounds of Jamaican music with their own conscious vibrations and eternal truths. Live in the moment, let it happen…you’ll be healed and uplifted, and that’s a guarantee.”

Check out their music here.

-The Makepeace Brothers

Very sing-along, feel-good, grooving tunes. They interact with the crowd and make sure everyone’s having fun. At one point they called contestants on stage to have a twist contest. Most of our camp was together while watching them so it made their performance much more fun.

This performance isn’t from GrassRoots, but this was their last song. Just imagine me and all my friends pointing to each other and thanking each other with every line.

-Kevin Kinsella

Another favorite reggae performance. The reggae really won me over this weekend.

Kevin’s son was at his side for the whole set. He kept singing, dancing and breaking it down. It was the most precious thing. Kevin kept singing to him and playing with him, too.

-Sim Redmond Band

One of my favorite bands. They sing pretty little simple songs that can pull anyone’s heart strings. Their songs can bring you back to a certain moment, can make you yearn for that true love, can dig their way into your heart. We watched from the second row and then moved to the back half-way through.

Favorite songs:

“Arms Around the Sun” lyrics:

“I feel strange and I feel cold/and I’m afraid of growing old/and I’m afraid if I look back/I might find a crack/or a hole in my soul…./I’ll wrap my arms around the sun.”

Their songs provide me with some deep satisfying feeling of understanding. The connection hits my heart everytime.

-Oliver Mtukudzi and Black Spirits

As this band was starting on the Grand Stand Stage, everyone in our camp found each other in the dance tent. Once we saw the light pouring from the Grand Stand Stage, we ran to them. It was so incredibly beautiful. Oliver is a best-selling artist in his home country of Zimbabwe and it’s clear to see why. Listen to them here.

-Samite

Last year while watching this band I had an out of body experience. His hypnotizing music brings me to paradise. When looking around at the audience, it’s amazing to see all the joy Samite brings to everyone. To his spiritual, compassionate music, everyone twirls, spins and smiles. During his last song it started to rain and everyone went wild. When dancing to Samite’s music I turn into a wild animal. He brings out something inside of me I’ve never felt before. Check out a video of his last song in my previous post.

-Chiwoniso

Another beautiful band from Africa. More and more I’m beginning to realize that I need to go to Africa. The drums and chants call to me like nothing else.

After their performance I saw my friend Ryan and he asked if I’d see them. When I told him I caught some of their set, he said, “I woke up crying to their song. It was so triumphant.”

Couldn’t have said it better.

GrassRoots: The Experience

Refreshed. Replenished. Nourished. Complete.

A handful of words to explain how I feel right now- after GrassRoots.

Oh GrassRoots…how do I begin to write about such a festival?

When I think of GrassRoots the first thing I think of is love. An overwhelming sense of love. Love between families, parents and children, couples, friends. There are no strangers at GrassRoots.

The feeling in the air is better than anywhere else. Everyone is just happy to be alive, to live, to love, to feel the energy, to feel the power of the moment, of the music.

It’s the best escape from reality. You are free to just be.

In the words of The Makepeace Brothers, “Leave your fears and your worries behind.”

Life, life, life is screaming at you, “Here I am, come get me! Take me! I am yours for the keeping!” and you grab it, grasp it, taste it. By the magic in the air and the smiles on everyone’s faces, you can see that everyone does the same.

Every time I’m there, the music speaks to me. It latches onto my veins, pours into my blood and takes complete control of my body. With each step, spin, and shake, I obey whole-heartedly.

Here’s a video capturing a small slew of how fantastic it is:

(p.s. last year while watching this band I had an out of body experience.)

What other papers/people have said about GrassRoots:

“But for the thousands of attendees, GrassRoots is far bigger than any particular musician, and for many the festival has done more than bring a world of music to town. Now in its 20th year, GrassRoots has forged lifelong friendships for some, served as a standing family reunion for countless others, and for a younger generation of music lovers, helped to put the town of Trumansburg on the map. Attendees enter a place where the line between audience and participants are blurred, and where the fairgrounds feel less like the site of a concert than of a community.”                      –From Ithaca.com

“There are so many folks who get together it becomes hypnotic, there’s such a sense of expansive well being,” Jeb Puryear, of Donna the Buffalo noted. “This is how people feel the love.”        –From Ithaca.com

“At the end of the day, the significance of a festival relies not on the caliber of its headliner but by the quality of its constituents. It is the milieu, not the marquee that makes a gathering memorable; community rather than celebrity. Try to conjure up a mental image of Woodstock: for the most part the focus would surely center on the crowd and not the stage. “It’s not really a concert for famous bands,” Jordan Puryear said. “It’s nice to have one or two, but it’s really a certain type of band, a certain type of music that makes sense.” A considered mix of the global and the local, the festival elucidates connections between zydeco and reggae, hippies and Touregs. At GrassRoots, all music is dance music, and it’s dance music from every nook and cranny of American culture. Dropping by Trumansburg this week answers the question not only what the next American music will sound like, but what community can feel like.”                                                                                                                                                                –-From Ithaca.com

“For me Grassroots is four days of people sharing their lives within the moments experienced surrounding music, dancing, peace, harmony and fun. It puts a smile on my face and keeps me smiling through the year. Enjoy life!”               –-From the GrassRoots Program

“Jeb, one of the festival’s founders, said it was very much a family affair, and in some cases a reunion as regulars and long-time volunteers reconnected in the fields and the dance tent. As he left the stage following a performance with Bubba Hots, he had to keep pausing for hugs from friends and strangers alike, with one woman saying “thank you for providing us with music we can groove to, that helps to forget the ignorance we experience in this world.” He said the event was like “a study of the capacity of people to really be in a loving space” and that he hopes attendees take that attitude with them when they leave and apply it to their daily lives.”   –From The Ithaca Journal