Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Mix Of Southern Flavors To Hit Telluride This September

Well, now the cat is completely out of the bag- we now know the complete lineup of the 2007 Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, so FP will give you a taste of the sounds one can expect to hear echoing through the valley at the festival, which takes place on Sept. 14-16 in Telluride, CO:

First, for the headliners. The first night will be closed out by none other than Los Lonely Boys. These Latin-rockers, of course, were the ones who put out the massively accessible hit "Heaven" in 2004, along with their debut. Their new album, Sacred, contains more of the same mix of pop, blues, and modern rock, but that's not such a bad thing, is it?

The following night's headliner, the Keb' Mo' Band, takes the sound of the festival's headlining slot out of the Tejano clubs and far into the Mississippi delta with frontman Keb' Mo's soulful croon-and-noodling. However, the Keb' Mo' Band's new, self-produced Suitcase offers country and folk tunes as well as the blues.

Finally, on the third night comes the surprise act, the Black Crowes. Ending a three-year hiatus in 2005, the band has been pushing on with their straightforward brand of blues-rock- the newst dose of which arrived in last year in the form of the compilation The Lost Crowes-which everyone who even remotely likes classic rock can get into.

As you can see, the headliners of this year's Telluride fest promise to bring blues and rock to the stage throughout the the festival's 3 days. The festival's not just that simple, though, and a strong taste for zydeco, funk, and other styles are encouraged for optimal enjoyment at Telluride.

There's Robert Randolph And The Family Band, an outfit whose namesake was educated in his trade (a mean pedal-steel guitar) at the House Of God Church, not a local old bar and grill, resulting in a tendency toward gospel and funk rather than the blues. In fact, Randolph, who takes the stage along with his band on the first night, has even said, "I never heard of the Allman Brothers, Buddy Guy (or) Muddy Waters. I wasn't into that music, only the church thing."

At the same time, Telluride Blues And Brews gets about as old-time and down-home as a festival can with the inclusion of David "Honeyboy" Edwards in the lineup. Many festinistas are likely to make the trip to Telluride just to see Edwards, who has performed with Robert Johnson and recorded for the Library of Congress, on the festival's third day.

Finally, the festival features some music of the South with roots stretching back to before the time of the blues- Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band offer zydeco music with a high-energy, almost pop-punk (maybe it's the drums...) edge that helps to update accordion music standards for the 21st century. Songs like "Luziana Feelin'" are pogo-worthy and will offer a good respite for crowds weary of all the guitar wailin' when Carrier and his band take the stage on the second day of the festival.

Thus, the Telluride Blues and Brews festival isn't simply a solid block of blues. Rather, it's a nexus of all music that has roots in the south, from the post-modern zydeco of Chubby Carrier to the Latin blues-rock of Los Lonely Boys.

--By Ross Moody

Monday, June 25, 2007

Black Crowes fill out Telluride Blues & Brews lineup

With one big Telluride festival, Bluegrass, in the books after Sunday night, the attention turns to another big Telluride festival, Blues & Brews, coming up September 14-16. And now that, across state, also Sunday night, The Black Crowes are closing the festival at Jazz Aspen Snowmass, it is okay for Telluride Blues & Brews (TBB) to unveil the last piece of its lineup.

Yup, it's The Black Crowes, who played a killer show at TBB in 2005, shortly after the band had reunited following a five-year hiatus. The Crowes had been one of the biggest rock acts of the 1990s, with a string of top 10 hits and sales of 19 million records.

2007 is the 14th year for the festival, which began as a celebration of Colorado craft beers and has grown to become a world-class event. The festival is held at Town Park in the Rocky Mountain resort community, as well as at various clubs and stages around town.

Besides The Crowes, the main-stage closers at TBB are Los Lonely Boys and the Keb Mo Band. Also on the bill: Robert Randolph, Grace Potter, The Radiators with Bonerama, and much more. When the main stage closes, the action shifts to the late-night "juke joints," jams and dances.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Special Report sidebar: List of green festivals

The spirit of green festivals is blossoming nationwide. Here are some of the best for Summer and Fall 2007.

First Annual Island Festival
July 20-22, Whidbey Island, Washington
Island Festival is a new, 3 day "Entertainment, Recreation and Inspiration camping event." A diverse blend of music, visual and performance art, sustainability forums, interactive workshops, and playful activities, 35 miles from Seattle.

9th Annual Taos Solar Music Festival
June 29, 30 and July 1, Kit Carson Park in Downtown Taos
Renewable energy powered, Michael Franti and Spearhead and other artists, many booths and demonstrations designed to inform and expose alternative and renewable energy sources and solutions.

13th annual Solarfest - New England's Energy & Music Festival
July 14-15, Forget-Me-Not Farm, Tinmouth, VT.
Two days of great music on solar-powered stages; 25 workshops on renewable energy and sustainable living.Nearly 100 renewable energy and sustainable living exhibitors and vendors, people whose business it is to provide practical solutions to the complex problems facing us in a post-carbon society.

SolWest Renewable Energy Fair
July 27-29, John Day, Oregon.
"Your energy, your food, and your money" is the theme of the ninth annual SolWest Renewable Energy Fair. SolWest is for people who want to take charge of their personal energy future. The most comprehensive energy and self-reliant living fair in the Northwest.

The Big Green Gathering
Aug 1-5, Mendip Hills in Somerset, England,
Europe's biggest Green Gathering, a 5 day camping event which is currently located in the Mendip Hills in Somerset. It has grown out of the original Green Gatherings of the 1980's and the Green Fields of Glastonbury Music Festival. It has developed organically in response to a desire from people within the green movement for a festival that was focused on Green issues.

33rd Annual Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference
Aug. 10-12, 2007 on the organic farmer-friendly campus of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. This year's keynotes: Bill McKibben - & Hazel Henderson

12th Annual SolFest
Aug. 18-19, Solar Living Center, Hopland, CA,
SolFest is the world's premier two-day celebration of renewable energy and sustainable living. Each summer SolFest transforms the rural hamlet of Hopland, California, into the global epicenter of green living. The main stage, family stage, and six workshop tents are filled with world- renowned speakers, musicians and artists, offering keynotes, panels, performances, and over fifty one-hour workshops.

3rd Annual Organic Planet Festival
August 26, Eureka, CA
Celebrating a natural and non-toxic world

Southern Energy & Environment Expo
August 24-26 at The Western N.C. Agricultural Center, Fletcher, NC.
Provides the general public an opportunity to see and learn about - first hand- the practical and presently available options for utilizing clean, renewable sources of energy, protecting our natural environment and working towards a sustainable economy for the region. The largest event of its kind in the Southeast.

Seattle Tilth's Harvest Fair and Tomato Tasting
Sept. 8, Meridian Park, Seattle, WA.

6th Derby Eco-Fest
September 8-9, Derby, England
A bi-annual festival in Britain which promotes mainstream environmental issues.

Earthdance 2007
Sept. 14-16, Laytonville, CA.
3 day Camp Out Celebration for World Peace and Unity, set amidst a beautiful old growth oak forest, featuring 5 Stages of Entertainment uniting Jamband, World, Conscious Lyricism, Electronica, Reggae and Folk. Also featuring, Late Night Cinema, Healing Village, Kidlandia, Speakers Forum, Activist Alley, Workshops, & All Night Music Caf├ęs.

31thst Annual Common Ground Country Fair, Maine Organic Farming and Growers Association
Sept. 21-23, 2007. Unity, Maine. Maine's truly epic, most authentic country fair, with extensive workshops, demonstrations, education and entertainment attracts tens of thousands of people every year.

8th Annual Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair
Sept 28-30, Fredricksburg, TX.
Featuring education and demonstrations of solar, wind, water Use & reuse, energy conservation, rainwater harvesting, green & sustainable building, organic growing, alternative transportation, straw bale construction.

7th Annual Organic Faire
Sept. 9, Organic Centre in Rossinver, County, Leitrim, Ireland.
This year the Organic Fair will open the NW Food Fest. A day for all the family featuring organic and local food, green crafts and organic clothes, guided tours and demonstrations around the gardens, children's events and music.

7th Annual Athens Area Sustainability Festival
Sep.29-30, Athens, OH.
This annual grassroots community event is organized by volunteers working year-round. The festival celebrates the many small businesses, organizations, individuals, and initiatives in the region dedicated to building community identity rooted in the principles of sustainability.

Salt Spring Island's 9th Annual Apple Festival, 2007
Sept 30, Apple Luscious Organic Orchard, Salt Spring Island, BC.

20th Annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival
Oct. 6-7, Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA.

29th Annual Prairie Festival, Sept 28-30
Salina, Kansas, celebrating the Land Institute's 30th Anniversary.

September 30th at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.
New York City's Environmental Festival, the largest environmental event on the East Coast.

And Labor Day Weekend


Special Report: Green Festivals

by David Kupfer

Festivals have been around since before the pagans and druids gathered to drink mead, celebrate the winter and summer solstices, and bonk the night away. Today there are an incredible number of weekend music, art, and cultural festivals -- running the gamut from accordian (www.cotatifest.com) to zydeco (www.zydeco.org)

Green festivals as a social and cultural phenomenon has grown as the environmental movement has matured. Today with the issues of global warming and renewable energy much in the public discussion, the notion of green living has evolved from freak to chic.

In earlier days, the hippies that started the festivals were not broadcasting their views and lifestyles via mainstream media, so the festivals proved a fertile environment for education. A trio of iconic hippie green festivals--UC Davis' Whole Earth Festival (Mothers Day weekend), the Oregon Country Fair ( held outside of Eugene, Oregon, in July), and the Rainbow Festival (celebrated over the 4th of July in some national park in the United States)--were established independently of each other in the late 1960s.

I myself was first exposed to the delights of such events working as a teenage volunteer for Stewart Brand's 10th anniversary party for the Whole Earth Catalogue--the Whole Earth Jamboree, in West Marin County in 1978.

Green festivals are a celebration of the index of possibilities, an escape into ecotopian dreams and sharing of wisdom. Inherent in their purpose is to educate and inspire people with positive solutions and a vision for tomorrow. They are characterized by kaleidoscope of visual images and activities, including: domes, multi-color banners, tipis, yurts, parades, jugglers, unicycles, giant puppets, windmills, solar panels and ovens, bicycle-powered machines, vaudevillians, kids and elders at play.

Opportunities abound: workshops on sustainable agriculture, food self-reliance, permaculture, alternative energy; demonstrations of alternative shelter techniques, energy-efficient building forms, human powered and electric vehicles, composting toilets, deep ecology, bioregional mapping, community currency, and a host of other tools, schemes, and techniques for living lighter on the land.

These festivals create a place full of rituals and fun where there is much room for serendipitous encounters, learning, relaxation, and celebration under the sun. At night fires are lit and people gather to make music.

Within the temporary villages that form for these fests, there is a keen sense of conviviality, affinity, and solidarity. Villagers tend to exude positive spirit, and one can leave with the clear sense that there are sufficient solutions, here and now, for civilization to make the necessary leap forward.

Such gatherings have helped validate the notion that another world, a more sustainable culture is not just possible, but rather is present now. They provide portals for people to investigate alternative ideas and escape present day dogmatism, playfully test out new environmental and social concepts. They encourage attendees to actively think about ways to operate our society and economy as if survival mattered.

The sidebar lists events that share implicit goals to honor the Earth, further social transformation, educate and inspire with positive solutions and visions, and party and laugh in the face of global calamity. They reflect a sustaining culture emerging around the globe, born out of the countercultural spirit of the 1960s and 1970s, representing the aspirations of several generations of people.

While by no means a complete list, the following represents the best of these events
occurring in the next few months.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Anti-jam band Zilla to serve Mother Nature a dose of electronica at Sonic Bloom

Wordplay by orange peel moses

Jamie Janover used to bad-mouth electronic music. As an accomplished hammered dulcimer player busking on the street for dead presidents (the only good kind), Janover was an acoustic music purist to the bone. Zeroing in on his non-electronic axe of choice paid off too, netting him “hammered dulcimer champion” honors a few years ago.

But the days of Janover’s acoustic music purism are now long gone. Sonic Bloom, one of the most digital music-dominated, noodle- and wank-free festivals ever founded by a so-called “jam band,” was his brainchild. The event runs June 21-23 at Beaver Meadows Ranch in Red Feather Lakes CO.

In its second year, this summer’s staggering lineup features some of the finest knob twiddlers on the planet, including Anahata, Ana Sia, Bassnectar, Boreta, Brother, Chordata, Danny Corn, DJ Rootz, Edit, E.L.F., Eoto, Ezekiel & The Wicked Won, Geno Cochino, The Glitch Mob, Jantsen, L’vin, MFA, Ooah, Pnuma, Rena Jones, Shakatura, Sporque, SOTEG (Bill Bless), Sound Tribe Sector 9, Vibe Squad, Wazulu the Ill Dravidian and Janover’s own band Zilla and his “pyrocussion” rig Mothtrap, as well as visual and performing artists such as Saxton (STS9), Lunar Fire, Boris (Videolicious), The Kaivalya Hoop Dancers and The Funginears.

[Photo: Zilla, with Jamie Janover at top right, is the host for Sonic Bloom. Image courtesy Madison House.]

“Electronic music used to be really peripheral for me, something that I almost frowned upon. There was a time when I thought drum machines were cheating. And certainly back in the early days of drum machines, the sounds weren’t very good. They hadn’t figured out the real subtle aspects of quantizing and incorporating a certain percentage of random variation so that it sounded more like a human playing it and less like a machine. The beauty of life and music is that everything evolves, including your own musical tastes,” he said.

If Janover’s tastes were single-celled organisms before, they are full-fledged androids now. Bassnectar, one of Sonic Bloom’s heftiest headliners (after Zilla and STS9), is about as anti-acoustic as you can get. The debut of Elastic Mystic, a collaboration between Bassnectar (known then as DJ Lorin) and String Cheese’s Michael Kang, at a Fillmore after-hours was Janover’s first conscious exposure to the ‘Nectar. At the moment, though, he was too busy with a debut of his own, that of Crop Circle Brain Factory (Zilla’s verbose original handle), to devote much attention. It wasn’t until a sardine fest at Burning Man’s El Circo dome that he truly experienced his deflowering “bassgasm.”

“I went to Burning Man in 1999," he recalled. "At Burning Man, it’s not very easy to set up a band to play through a PA system, especially using strings and rack gear and expensive stuff like that. It’s mostly DJs using computers and CDJs and turntables to get music through huge sound systems, because it’s a lot easier and that’s the culture out there. That’s when I realized that there’s a lot of different kinds of electronica, it’s not just all bad. There’s this really bad fast trance and then there’s this really amazingly beautiful, organic, mid-tempo electronica. Bassnectar at the El Circo dome is a perfect example. You can hardly believe the energy and who shows up and what they do when that place happens. What we’re doing with Zilla is taking some of the better aspects and elements of jam bands and combining them with our love of the West coast electronica that we’re exposed to at Burning Man--Bassnectar, Tipper, The Glitch Mob and other San Francisco and LA-based breakbeat, glitch, downtempo, IDM and dub step. We’re taking ‘Jambandlandia’ and we’re getting rid of the solos.”

A jam band with no solos? Heresy. According to Janover, there are only a handful of “axe tappers” in the entire lineup. Such a forward-thinking fest will certainly inspire imitators to follow in its footstep--if they can track them down, that is. Thanks in large part to Kang’s non-profit Our Future Now, Sonic Bloom’s environmental footprint is likely to be relatively light. Festival goers have the option of purchasing special “enviro-tickets,” with proceeds going towards wind energy credits from Boulder-based Renewable Choice and Baseline Ticketing plans to donate a dollar per ticket sold towards off-setting event emissions either way. Generators will run on bio-diesel. Suds and other libations will be served in biodegradable cornstarch plastic cups. And both carpooling and recycling are highly encouraged.

Copycat promoters will be lucky to find bread crumbs in the festival’s wake, let alone blueprints. No artist/promoter exists in a vacuum, though, even an event as original as Sonic Bloom was inspired by its predecessors, which Janover listed.

“The Full Moon Dream Dance, which was the original Horning’s Hideout, where String Cheese and Peak Experience Productions first came together to do large scale music with large scale performance art, because we’re going to do something similar to that Saturday night. Oregon Country Fair, High Sierra Music Festival and Shambhala, in terms of the electronica aspect. Also, very impressed and really, really loved and would love to be anything similar at all to Lightning in a Bottle. The Do Lab did a fabulous job, I highly recommend that festival.”