72 Hours at LIB

Thursday

As the first night approached on Thursday, we gathered around the Sacred Fire right outside the Beacon for the opening ceremony celebration. Here we commenced the start of the festival with an indigenous invocation to honor the land and pay respect to the ancestors of the space we stood. The acknowledgment of LIB as more than party was felt and the emphasis of a transformational experience was central. The elders who guided the ceremony spoke upon the importance of what the gathering was really all about in reflection of our ancient future where the spirit, magic and healing was to be felt deeper in essence beneath all the outward entertainment. It was apparent from the opening ceremony that this year was intended to be more than just about principles, but about creating a container for engagement and change.

The leaders strongly expressed how LIB should be internalized as a catalyst for helping to heal ourselves and the planet during these critical times. From the talks and workshops to the incredible art and music presented with a strong message of intention; intention to take the full spectrum of magic, love and consciousness experienced at LIB outside of the festival grounds and spread it throughout our communities. This celebration of life was paramount and awareness heightened as the weekend commenced.

As the sun set, the first musical experience began with mystical folktronic group Yaima performing at the Beacon stage. When the opening ceremony finished and gatherers filtered into the Beacon to hear the majestic sounds played by male member Masaru Hegasa and the heart piercing vocals of Pepper Proud, it was not long before the transcendental seduction was induced. The beautiful smiling faces and barefoot sensation of dancing on carpeted ground brought forth a deep heart opening, leaving us in feelings of exuberance and uplifted by the powerful undistorted vibrations. The Beacon space offered a intimate experience with close knit sound while still spacious and open with a high canopy as air flowed through from all directions. The freedom to expand, breathe and let go was essential to the Compass point as the interior was filled with many additions including cushions, plants, and an elixir bar. The decorative colors of green and blue were soothing and to immerse in and felt pleasantly natural. As Yaima’s set came to a close and the sun was over the horizon, a blissful atmosphere was flowing and the transformation had begun.

Later that night,  Saqi’s first set of the weekend cultivated a spirit of good vibes within the cozy Community Lodge stage. Saqi’s unique blend of old world acoustic instrumentation and and earthy beats infused the Craft with life on Thursday night. Accompanied by his brother and KR3TURE who offered an exceptional live flavor, Saqi played off his debut album, Quest’s End as well as unreleased material he’s made in recent months. Moving live vocal performances by Sasha Rose added some feminine medicine and were beautifully interspersed with upbeat remixes of Autograph and Biggie Smalls.

Friday

Friday kicked off with a full day of workshops, talks, music and exploration of the creative spaces that were spread out over the large site. In the morning, we started our flow heading to the Landing point of the Compass and attending the workshop at the Grid space titled “The Creative Process” with David Satori (of Beats Antique/Dirtwire). This was an incredibly inspiring offering for all artists, musicians and creators of some medium.  To listen, view and understand the process of doing creative work from someone highly recognized like David Satori who has years of experience was inspiring and eye opening. He broke down 7 key elements to the creative process and elebroted on from a professional stand point. He also displayed his personal music production process that he’s found success in and wats to get out of blocks when things aren’t flowing. After the workshop, many attendees were engaging with questions and felt a boost of confidence to get there own creative juices out in the world based off this informative lesson.

As the winds carried us onward with inspiration, the next stop on Friday was attending two talks within the realms of plant medicine as well as our introduction to the Craft area of the Compass. This interactive space was the home of earth alchemy, which included the Botanical Studies, Paleo Arts, the Witch’s Hut apothecary and the Community Lodge tree shaded stage. The first talk we attended was titled Becoming An Herbalist and taught by Special Blackthorn, who has long worked in plant alchemy with the organization, Potionarium. Her flowering spirit and delightful demeanor offered a sweet sensation to all who graced her presence. She spoke upon some of her favorite herbs as well as spread a plethora of knowledge surrounding plant medicine of all kinds. She was also the host of the natural healing space called the Witch’s Hut where she was nested all weekend, offering her herbal potions and tinctures to all who came in for a visit. She created a truly nourishing space to be and one where you could feel pure. It was here that she set up her own apothecary with mason jars filled with macerating medicine and fresh herbs from wall to wall.

As this opened us up to the healing magic that was abundant in the Craft point this year, we transitioned over the Community Lodge area where renown permaculture activist and long time herbalist Penny Livingston engaged attendees in her outdoor talk titled “Regenerative Herbalism”.  Her ethos and direction was geared around the methods and mindset needed maintain awareness in the face of the pharmaceutical and environmental destruction. Being a permaculture herbalist, she holds a strong message of healing the earth. Penny expressed points that emphasized regeneration, such as working with plant cycles to continue them, growing and foraging medicine as well as working to transform land by creating medicinal gardens in their place. She also focused on the magical qualities of herbs and stated how just sitting with them for a while to gain the energetic understanding is as impotent as the physical effects. Towards the end of the worship, we are all basked in the sunlight of the day and at ease from the refreshing breeze and shady space. Now that afternoon was approaching on our first full day of LIB, we were feeling down to earth and ready to embrace some music. Highlights from the first full night of music were the dusty sunset dance parties hosted by Armin Miran at the Favela Bar and Ecuadorean electronica artist Nicola Cruz at the Lightning Stage.

Saturday

Saturday brought us lots of music experiences that we’re memorable and diverse including the psychedelic bass extravaganza at the Thunder Stage with incredibly potent sets by Spacegaisha, Plantrae,  Kayla Scintilla and Hedflux. A  tribal take over and Crossroads including 4 hour ethnic-dance journey by Sabo and to top it off, the exceptional late night world fusion performances at the Beacon with Stallamara followed by Dirtwire at the Grand Artique.

One outstanding offering was Porangui’s multi-instrumental live shamanic sound journey that captivated attendees into a vibrational trance induced by a strong intensional power. Channeling through on the spot voice and instrumental abilities, the midday performance from this one-man orchestra began as a moving meditation on the power of music and ended as a vibrant cross-cultural dance party. Speaking from the heart, in English and Spanish, Porangui performed songs by looping his voice with hand drums, guitar, didgeridoo and a dozen other percussion instruments. Playing for the Water and earth spirits, his explanation of how sound can heal and breathe life into world was incredibly moving and medicine for the body, mind and spirit.

Sunday

The last day of the gathering was essential for leaving us in a state of empowering bliss to be inspired as we returned back to our homes and communities the following day. In the morning we visited the Learning Kitchen to indulge in some delicious nourishment as well as learned some informative knowledge into health, food and diet. We sat in for a workshop titled “Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet”, with Magda Freedom Rod who explained some key insights surrounding nutrition, superfoods and vitamin rich ingredients to implement into your daily diet. As always, she also demonstrated a few simple recipes for us to try at home.

After our uplifting and health boosting time at the Learning Kitchen, we carried on to the Beacon for a panel discussion and talk that truly impacted our lives in positive way. The panel titled “A Legacy of Empowerment:  Monitoring the Movement” consisted of four established earth activists and highly influential speakers, including Penny Livingston, Starhawk, Paul Stamets and James Stark. Hosted by Ayana Young, for over 1 hour they took turn answering questions and speaking upon some of the most pressing questions today in regards to how to become active, empowered and get involved to help heal the earth.

A couple questions discussed were on subjects such as “How to take the first step?” and “what are some essential ways that they find important to become actively empowered?” Penny’s responses raised awareness around finding mentorship in your community and how it first take’s a foremost desire to help others before the transformative work can flow through. Starhwalk stressed the importance of leadership and how a selfless attitude to be of service is key. James and Paul brought up the rebuilding the village model as well as the need for a revolution in the ecology of consciousness. Over all, the responses and input from each member brought to attention a deep insight on the great shift that is occurring right now on this planet and offered incredible ideas and working methods to take to heart so the all attendees can start to incorporate them. The push for empowerment, leadership and social action is needed more than ever before and after this inspiring panel, we felt that we had an abundance of methods to take the plunge.

 

Lightning in a Bottle Music Preview

 

The main music stages at Lightning In A Bottle always offer a combination of well known and underrated artists, creating a diverse line-up and abundant sonic atmosphere for all your ear-gasmic cravings. At Breaking Borders, we like to focus on local artists as well as international acts. These artists offer a unique and attracting sound quality, bringing the world together through cross-cultural music styles, live-tronica and ethnic fusion. When we approach the music side of festivals, we look for and are inspired by artists that show consciousness in their music and express deep intentions through lyrics and instrumentation. 

Here is our list of must-see music acts at LIB 2017:

LIGHTNING STAGE 

Bomba Estéreo (11:15pm FRI)

Hailing from Bogotá, Colombia, Bomba Estéreo brings forth an eclectic mix of traditional cumbia and electronica fused with a psychedelic flavor. Over the last 5 years, the group has gained a distinct global identity, touring across 40 countries and recently has become a premier name at many well known festivals around the world. Due to their flavorful live-tronic sound that both captivates listeners with spacey melodies while energizing them with latin inspired bass heavy beats, there’s no question why they have gained popularity.  We view Bomba Estéreo as a pioneering group for combining a strong tropical folkloric legacy from their ancestral roots while still utilizing the qualities of live-electronic music today and as they reach more and more audiences worldwide, they desplay a clear example of a unique music formation that breaks borders. For this, there’s no mistake why they have been added to this year’s main stage line-up at LIB and we couldn’t be more excited!

Nicola Cruz (7:35pm FRI)

Nicola Cruz will headline the Lightning stage for the first sunset of the weekend. His unique ‘ande-step’ sound mixes ethnic vocals and percussion from his home country of Ecuador with rythmic downtempo beats. Expect lush soundscapes and organic beats to drift across the Lightning island on Friday night.

Bonobo (10:30pm SUN)

This talented British group will be the calm before the storm Sunday, as Bonobo will set the stage for Bassnectar’s closing set. Known for long winding melodies infectious house beats, Bonobo defies categorization. Now on tour for a recent album, Bonobo (originally a one man operation) has added live drums, horns and keys to its live performance.

THUNDER STAGE 

Plantrae (1:45PM SAT)

Coming from the deep woodland wilderness of Oregon to make the journey south, Plantrae’s recent 1 year hiatus has come to a close as he kicks off a strong summer festival run this weekend. After taking time off to respire, gather new material and cultivate fresh earthy beats with more folky instrumental additions, Plantrae is sure to offer new sonic pathways to deepen our roots and uplift our branches. His tickling psy bass flavor combined with heart opening melodies and live Viola accompaniment is a resonant experience that lingers long after. As it is one of our favorite sound production styles of it kind today, we can tell you with all sincerity that his Saturday early afternoon set is not one to miss at Thunder.

Kalya Scintilla (6:15pm SAT)

Kalya Scintilla has created his own unique earthy sound. Expect Kalya to bring life to the Thunder stage during his evening set with signature Australian tribal psy-bass and upbeat world fusion sounds blended into a pleasantly disorienting dance party.  Look for Kalya’s other-worldly sound, along with EveOlution, at the Thunder stage on Saturday.

Hedflux (11:00pm SAT)

Appearing for his first time at LIB, Hedflux is going to headline Saturday night’s fast paced thunder stage experience. His recent album includes downtempo, and groovey glitch and dub tunes. But being scheduled between Dimond Saints and Perfect Stranger, he will likely play his signature uptempo ‘psy-break’ style – helping to speed the crowd up for Perfect Stranger, LIB’s first Psy-Trance artist ever.

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WOOGIE STAGE 

KMLN (Kameleon) (2:30pm SUN)

An eclectic mix of live instruments and organic deep house beats, this Canadian duo is sure to make you dance. Their signature playa sound layers deep bass melodies on top of driving techno and house beats to create an auditory journey for those on board. Look for them at the Woogie midday Sunday.

 

GRAND ARTIQUE

Dirtwire (2:30am SAT)

At the Grand Artique we are excited to witness a late night Dirtwire set. A collaboration of artists from Beats Antique and Stellamara, this trio brings together traditional instrumentation and world-beat percussion to create electronic soundscapes bound to make you dance.

 

FAVELA BAR 

Armen Miran (8:00pm FRI)

Originally from Armenia, Armen Miran has established himself within the Los Angeles deep house scene. We like his signature slow ethno-house vibe. Performing at the Favela Bar at sunset on Friday, his long sweeping string and vocal melodies will gently guide you into the night.

Brian Hartman (2:00pm  SUN)

Hailing from Nevada City, Brian Hartman is an eclectic and prolific DJ with three sets throughout the weekend at LIB this year. His refined upbeat and positive style draws on dub, cumbia, ethnohouse, hip hop and dancehall. We are excited for the sweet sound of latin and African melodies coming from the Favela Bar during his midday Sunday set.

BEACON

BOLO (5:30pm FRI)

This recently formed world acoustic fusion group based out of the Bay Area delicately combines a wide range of western and traditional instruments from the middle-east and Africa with devotional lyrics sung in languages including Hebrew, Arabic and Swahili. The cross-cultural trio provides powerful songs filled with passion and meaning as well as get the body moving through fun rhythmic instrumentation.

Yaima (8:00pm THUR)

We are incredibly excited for Yaima’s performance this year. The Seattle based folk-tronic group is one of kind, offering a intricately soothing journey filled with ethereal soundscapes and lyrics full of timeless wisdom. Their songs weave earthy tapestries of acoustic instruments including hangpan, didgeridoo and guitar while blending spacious electronic bass effects and synths to move listeners into a transcendent state of bliss.

Stellamara (2:30am SUN)

Returning for a second consecutive year, this world-renown world music ensemble has gained incredible response for their expressive qualities of mysterious beauty through their powerful songs that bring out devotion and ancient tradition. Stellamara contains multiple members including Evan Fraser (BOLO, Dirtwire) and centered around main vocalist Sonja Drakulich who’s voice penetrates space and transcends time through a pure expression of spirit.

CRAFT

Marie Sioux (9:30PM SAT)

Through a beautifully transcendent solo perfemance, Mary Sioux offers acoustic songs, weaving together nature and ancestry with  piercing lyrics and a finger picking style of guitar. Come bask in her soothing  serenading  sounds at the intimate Lodge stage on Saturday night.

Lightning In a Bottle Compass Preview

This year at Lightning in a Bottle Gathering in Bradley, California, Breaking Borders will be covering the alternative spaces and conscious acts that emphasize change making principles as well as actively engage attendees in educational opportunities. The vast amount of attractions are focused on holistic healing, traditional knowledge, environmental awareness and cross-cultural understanding. Our main focus will be centered around The Compass. This newly redesigned Temple of Consciousness will consists of 6 interactive areas including Craft, Landing, Feast, Crossroads, Cauldron and Beacon. Each space is designed to host different topics, disciplines and expertise through a mix of talks, panels, workshops, and global music performances.

As LIB continues to expand, we’ve noticed the general perspective can change. As is the case with many highly acclaimed festivals over time, the point of view switches from a smaller conscious gathering to a larger commercialized attraction. When this happens the underlying spirit can become masked by big names and trendy appeal. For this reason, we have chosen to look deeper into these essential aspects of Lightning in a Bottle that we believe are the soul of any transformational gathering. To give you an idea of the magic in store this year at the Compass, we have broken down each space, acknowledging their intensions and showcasing the type of experiences that await your arrival.

BEACON:

Created with the intention to educate and cultivate action, The Beacon supports the movement towards a better world with talks, rituals and performances.  The Beacon will serve as center stage for LIBs largest non-musical talks, in addition to hosting musical artists at night. The Beacon will center performances on connectivity with the earth and each other by focusing on our interwoven stories and collective  journey towards consciousness.

 

LANDING:

At the Landing, we expect to get our hands dirty. With a focus on the history of the First Nations, Permaculture and Technoculture, this stage will host the most diverse speaker line up at LIB this year. Talks on the rights and importance of indigenous land will highlight a speaker line up that promises to engage listeners and encourage action.

 

HAVEN:

The Haven will be LIBs most intimate hub. Healing sessions and lessons on body work promote enhanced contact with healers and with each other. Workshops on interpersonal dynamics and relationships will help realign relations with loved ones and strangers alike.

 

CRAFT:

Craft is an area dedicated to hands-on learning opportunities surrounding plant medicine, folk tradition, community healing and craft making. Home to spaces such as Community Lodge, Witches Hut, Herbal and Folk Arts Arbors and Hearth, this Point of the Compass will be your source to engage in beautiful crafts and learn new skills all related to earth based living with the intension of restoring harmony with nature.

 

CROSSROADS:

To enhance your global senses, we bring you our most anticipated area, Crossroads. This interactive space is your ticket to explore world culture at Lightning at a Bottle. Offering exciting and diverse classes on music and dance traditions from around the the globe, at Crossroads you will be able to break borders, learn methods and embrace the depth of cross-cultural expression.

 

CAULDRON:

A distinct space housed within the Craft area, Cauldron offers a powerful atmosphere full of magic and spirit. Centered around esoteric and mystical studies, this transformational hub will be a fuming container for you to explore the depth of our intuitive existence throughout history and uncover understanding of our place within the great mystery.

 

FEAST:

An always tasteful space at festivals alike, Feast will be a point of the Compass you will gladly attend at some moment. Housing the infamous Learning Kitchen, this nourishing space will provide opportunities to appease your palate and experience the culinary healing behind food culture. Along side workshops, Feast will provide the Last Supper’s Brunch Club, an eating area for you to indulge in the sensory delights of food in a social fashion.

 

The reimagined Compass Peninsula will provide LIB participants with speakers and music to bring life to the movement towards a better world. Sitting at the center of LIB, the Compass Peninsula includes workshops and speakers that will inspire, educate and motivate action. The Crossroads, Landing and Cauldren are aligned to serve as the primary centers of education at LIB. The Haven and Craft will provide opportunities to learn tangible methods of action and connect more deeply the self and those around us. The Beacon will stand at the center of the Compass, educating participants on alternative visions for the future and giving direction to the conscious movement.

Lightning In a Bottle will be taking place over Memorial Day weekend from May 24-28th. Breaking Borders will be covering the events music and speakers throughout the weekend. Look forward to another preview of Lightning In a Bottle’s musical line up soon.

Over The Andes

Journey into Peru’s wild and ancient north where misty mountains plunge into unexplored jungle, ancient ruins lie empty and the once-powerful Inca empire envelopes you. Around every cobble stone corner there are surprises waiting to be discovered.

Our bus from Lima climbed high over the Andes to the Huánuco, once a key Inca settlement on the road between Cusco to Cajamarca. The city is known for the nearby Temple of Kotosh, one of Peru’s oldest Andean archaeological sites and La Danza de los Negritos, a celebration in remembrance of the slaves that were brought to work in the surrounding mines.

After dipping into the jungle, we emerged in the laid back town of Chachapoyas. For centuries it was the base from which the Spanish explored and exploited the Amazon. It is nestled in ethereal cloud forest and filled uncharted ruins. From Chachas it is a two hour drive to the famous ruin of Kuélap.  This grand citadel is perched on a limestone mountain. Only twenty or so years before the Spanish arrived (and burned it down,) it was conquered by the Incas.

The next part of the journey was a real test of nerves. From Chachapoyas we climbed high up a narrow, foggy road and over Black Mud Pass (12066 ft / 3678m).  There were no guard rails just a sheer three kilometer drop to the Rio Marañon below.

Happy that we survived the journey we settled into the colonial metropolis of Cajamarca. Little remains of the Inca city, except for the massive room the Spanish forced the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa to fill with gold before they killed him and melted it down.  The havoc the Spanish wreaked on the region is on prominent display in Cajamarca. It was always on the back of my mind during the jubilant carnival festivities that overwhelmed the city in the following days. The crazy carnival in Cajamarca turns into a giant water fight.  We warmed ourselves by soaking in the city’s thermal baths, the same natural baths where Atahualpa was relaxing when the Spanish arrived in Cajamarca.

The Northern Highlands are a paradise for anyone seeking Peru’s beauty, unique culture and history without all the crowds.  Cloud forests, waterfalls, jungle covered ruins, bustling markets and the Peru’s fascinating past all await those who aren’t afraid to head off the beaten path.

Recommended listening – LA DANZA by NACIÓN EKEKO

A Call to Action with Rising Appalachia

Rising Appalachia Interview and Special Feature

We are incredibly excited to offer this very special Thanksgiving artist interview and Breaking Borders feature with the highly acclaimed deeply soulful, southern world-folk duo Rising Appalachia!

The incredible collective voice of sisters Leah Song And Chloe Smith have resonated with us deeply over the last years and continue to inspire us through their passion and spirit for world culture both old and new. By bridging folk tradition with contemporary relevance, their songs speak with intention to reconnect to cultural roots, social justice and harmony as a people. They show a strong commitment to working creatively at a grass roots level keeping them accessible to all. Through the power of sound, story and song Rising Appalachia raises the bar in music today, empowering woman world wide and representing joy, simplicity and meaning in all they have to offer.

We were honored to have the opportunity to connect with the sisters a month ago as they embarked on their current “Resilience Tour” up and down the Western USA. The tour reaches many small towns and every major city on the West Coast including a very a special show in our hometown of San Francisco at The Great American Music Hall on November 26th.  Here is the FB Event and tickets.

They will be joined by their beloved bandmates Biko Casini (percussion) and David Brown (bassist/guitarist) with whom they have been performing, since their last album tour in 2015. The current “Resilience” movement for the band is a powerful response to the current state of the world, acknowledging the challenging times we face today and encouraging personal empowerment for ourselves and local communities to take action from the ground up.

“We are a resilient people in challenging times! And now more than ever we need to be making music.”

For the last five years, the music and ethos put forth by Rising Appalachia has greatly influenced our pursuits for the cross-cultural work we do here at Breaking Borders and has given us meaningful intent to keep our spirits high. In our interview, we ask the two songstresses Leah and Chloe to speak in depth about certain characteristics that make Rising Appalachia unique and truly stand out today as international musicians for change.img_0894

Breaking Borders: How did Rising Appalachia come into being? What was your intention behind the project? What were some of the driving forces that helped form your identity?? 

Leah: Rising Appalachia was born out of our long term immersion into southern roots music. We were raised in a family that kept Duke Ellington vinyl playing, and both our mother and father got very involved in Southern folk music traditions … so our whole childhood was steeped in music. When we decided to record an album we were mostly wanting to document the peculiar and rich soundtrack of our lives. There were so many different influences that created the bedrock of our musical tastes. From Old Appalachian mountain tunes, to the early days of Outkast, the South was our soundtrack. We wanted to create a platform to showcase all those influences, and at that time those genres didn’t historically mix. We wanted to make music that referenced all those sounds as much as they had influenced us. And there was born Rising Appalachia.

Can you describe the connection you both have to the American South? How does your love and admiration of the Southern soul translate into your music and message? What kind of story are you telling about the South that you want to express to the rest of the world?

Chloe: Well, we are sisters so we of course have the birth connection to the south and to our blood family there.  But beyond that, we have the same fluctuating emotions for the south that most people do that are from there.  Its love, its hate, its sort of a moving body of opinions depending on the times and the seasons and your neighbors.  However, the love comes from the cultural heritage of the place… the songs we were brought up singing, our foods and crazy salty rich recipes, the feeling of front porch talks and hot summer breezes, fireflies on the mountain, and the hospitality and sweetness of many southern folk.  Its sweaty and sticky and complicated sort of region.  But we want to express in our music the importance of having a sense of place, of belonging to somewhere or something, and of singing the songs of ones ancestors and family members which we all have access to with a little bit of digging.a4037627462_10

Rising Appalachia’s unique incorporation of international folk tradition seems to reflect an intention of bringing people back to the roots in contemporary time. In your words, what is the significance of folk tradition today? It what ways do indigenous worldviews impact your own lifestyles, music and visions?

Chloe: Folk music and folk practices ( Im thinking specifically of craft work, medicine, cooking and preparing, storytelling, dance, and other forms of expression and gathering) are simple, and that is why we hold on so dearly to them in contemporary times.  That simplicity is peaceful and historic and full of information to pass down.  I was raised in folk music and so I saw first hand the community it sprouted and the relationships it formed and in many ways a lot of young people I know now don’t have those sorts of things to grasp on to.  Nothing passed down from the family necessarily.  Its a great malnourishment of our country and I think people are awakening to that and doing the work to recreate it in their own lives.

What inspired you to start following this path of studying traditional cultures and world wide travel? Do you have a favorite moment(s) of encountering indigenous traditions or culture during your travels?

Chloe: Our father traveled around the world before Leah and I were born, and that gave him a lot of very interesting fodder for our dinner table conversations.  We learned about different cultures and communities through his stories at an early age, and thus the seed was planted.  Additionally, our mother was an international flight attendant for 30 years… so that travel bug was strong in the Smiths.

We knew that music was a glue in our lives, and we both wanted to explore other countries folk traditions pretty soon out of high school so as to broaden that scope.  One of our favorite memories was visiting Bulgaria on a cultural tour that a good friend of ours set up for us years back.  He was Bulgarian and loved our Appalachian styled music and wanted us to experience the rich mountain singing traditions of his country.  We went to the Pirin Mountains together to a small village of mostly women farmers ripe with songs and laughter and shared songs and music and cherry liquor for a few days with very little language exchange, only the music to hold on to.  There were no young people in the village and all the singers we met were 65 and older, so they were thrilled and tickled to have young somewhat weird looking ( tattooed/pierced) foreigners visiting and swooning over their intricate and haunting harmonies.  Its still one of most visceral moments of song catching.

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Rising Appalachia performs at both small local and large festival venues, always spreading messages of unity and creating positive social change through music and action. What inspired you to begin walking this path towards social and environmental justice?

Leah: We walked that path before we began the band, so it has always felt like a natural fusion of interests.

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“We have always wanted to use music literally as a vehicle to connect to people- to place and to culture.”

 

What is your perspective on using music as a tool of activism for creating change in the world? Can you explain this parallel of activism and art in reflection to Rising Appalachia? Do you believe this has driving force for your success? If so, how?

Leah: It is a concept and an intention for us to be touring sustainably, and to be creating music with a purpose. We have always wanted to use music literally as a vehicle to connect to people- to place and to culture. And the music industry itself is such a FAST paced machine. We began to feel really disconnected from the pulse of our work. We started a project this year called the Slow music is a way to remind us to take the time to tour in a way that is sustainable- both physically and environmentally as well as emotionally (which might actually be the most important part). So it means challenging the status quo of touring: physically slowing down and staying in regions for longer amounts of time, staying locally and eating local food from the places where we are making music, taking days off in between shows to get into wild places and learn about the nature of each place, connecting each show to local non-profits that are doing direct action work in their communities so that our impact can create longer relationships than just a few hours at a show, exploring alternative travel options (like train, recycled fuel, sail boat, horse back, eat).
We also bring in local non-profits to each show to allow our audience to have more of a relationship with the place that THEY live and create those connections that last long beyond the show. Each night we hope that there are components of celebration, components of local activism, a dance party, and a place for us to encourage more direct action. Everyones path into activism is different and everyones voice is important. We try and create a place where all walks of life are welcome to come be a part of our experience.

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A more recent conceptual movement of Rising Appalachia is the idea of “Wider Circles” and expanding yourselves to work with more people and musicians as well as reach wider audiences and cultural backgrounds. What was your intention behind this movement and album? Why do you believe it is an important concept today? How has this movement of “Wider Circles” manifested within your recent projects and performances?

Chloe: We have grown so much the past few years and there were so many people on board helping us to do so that we wanted to write a song capturing the value of those  expanding circles.  Rising Appalachia has always been a sort of “all hands on deck” type project with countless supporters behind the scenes and we feel very much that a large amount of our success is due to some of those people.  The song is a sort of thank you to them, as well as a anthem to encourage people to widen their own circles and invite more people in.  We see so much shutting down, separating off, and divisive language in our main stream media these days that can really isolate the human heart into feeling pretty alone and conflicted with “different” people.  Wider Circles is a song about going to the center of those hard conversations and committing to the work that will unify.  Its about showing up at the table.  Its about marching.  Its about walking the path of kindness in that work and being humble in knowing whom has come before you.

“I think that in order to enact change we have to keep showing up at the table over and over again.”

 

A big platform for Rising Appalachia to reach people is through the the global festival culture. What is your stance on festivals being a catalyst for change? Do you see festival culture functioning in a way that “breaks down” social norms? And if so, in what way?

Leah: To be honest we have a lot of critique of the festival culture. We are invited to be a part of a lot of events that boast change-making principles, but they often feel like they are disconnected from some of the action that is needed to create a shift. I think its ok to throw a party, but call a spade a spade. Transformation is a bigger task than just a party. It takes some discomfort, and some hard work, ad reaching people who don’t look, think talk or act like you. Some of the most profound events that we have been a part of are some of the smaller gatherings that are directly working to impact change (and not just a big party with a few workshops and classes on the side) like : Alternate Roots, The South Eastern Women’s Herbalist Conference, Jungle Camp, the Permaculture Action Network events, The Lake Eden Arts Festival, Honor the Earth events, Benefit shows, ect. I think that in order to enact change we have to keep showing up at the table over and over again. I am thankful that the festival culture exists and creates spaces for young people to show up and question the social norms, but i hope that it is only the first step and many people learn how to go much deeper to challenge the status quo.

After performing throughout the summer at many festivals and gatherings across the U.S and Internationally, you have now embarked on a new journey dubbed the Resilience Tour throughout the Western States. The tour is also coinciding with a documentary release shot in New Orleans during Jazz Fest early this year. What is the significance of both the tour and documentary being done at the same time? In your opinion, what is the concept of ‘resilience” responding to in this time period? What is your intention behind this movement?

Chloe: We felt like the word Resiliency is perfect for this season because in its essence it evokes a sense of toughness, levity, and positivity that we all NEED right now.  It has also been a great spark in dialogue about how people are being resilient in their own communities, how people will be resilient after the elections, and how art and community can help in those processes.  We hope to create a container at our concerts for both action as well as release/relief from the constant batter of the daily grind, providing local nonprofit and outreach information that encourages direct involvement as well as singing songs that soothe.

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What does the future look like for Rising Appalachia? What is the next step for you as a band as well as an active force for change in the community? Any new tours, music, collaborations on the horizon?

Chloe: We can only ever guess about the future, as planning it too tightly can constrict the spontaneity of growth.  However, we are of course writing, learning new songs with teachers, planning action days and furthering our ideas of “The Slow Music Movement”, refining our voices and meditating what we want to be saying out there, collaborating with mentors, and generally keeping one foot at home and one eye out on the horizon… hoping to strike that perfect balance of pushing ourselves while remaining rooted.  2017 will put us abroad much more, which we are very very excited about after touring all over the States for the past few years.  We hope to do some horse-tours as well as a Seed to Sail tour raising awareness about Permaculture.  All sorts of good things coming… 😉

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In conjunction with their show in SF on 11/26, the band will be hosting a very special Bay Area Permaculture Action Day on Sunday 11/27 with City of Dreams, a local non-profit dedicated to youth leadership for low-income residence. The Action Day will be held at the non-profit’s youth-run community garden at the Oakdale Community Center in San Francisco. The one-day festival will be an active family-friendly outing which will include a variety of hands-on permaculture projects, live-music and artistic activities as well as a garden fresh community pot-luck!

FB Event – San Francisco Concert on 11/26  and Tickets

FB Event – Bay Area Action Day on 11/27

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