Archive for the ‘Andrew Wyatt/Disco Santa’ Category


Wednesday, October 20th, 2010


Contributing Writer & Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt []

My face felt as if was pelted by hundreds of darts. Sand choked my throat and lungs. The wind blew 60 miles per hour around me, and I couldn’t see people and objects just feet in front of me. My outstretched arms were no longer visible.

The wind blew so hard I began to wonder if I even existed. This was my introduction to the environs of the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada this year for the annual Burning Man Festival. For one week in late August every year there, the barren northern edge of Nevada becomes Black Rock City, playing host to the crucible of festivals in America: Burning Man. It’s a sprawling city ornamented with towering, ornate art structures and populated by 50,000 people in elaborate costumes.

Like Jonah’s whale of the Old Testament, it can swallow you whole, only to spit you out disoriented and physically and emotionally drained. The festival, with a teeming population that makes it the fourth-largest city in the state, pushes its participants to plunge head first into a valley that, at one ancient time, was covered in deep seawater. It’s an experience that can be crude, spiritual, silly and self reflective.


The Black Rock Desert, surrounding mountains and nearby Pyramid Lake are normally home to a handful of small but hearty communities and a major Paiute Indian Reservation that stand up to the desolate winters and withering summers. The average daytime temperature in late August is about 104 degrees Fahrenheit. For good reason, the people there pride themselves on living their lives and raising their families under such natural extremes. But many still view the area as desolate and devoid of human existence. To many, the desert is a place where remnants of long-lost mining operations, gold diggers and the petroglyphs of once thriving native tribes mark the boundaries of where human contact ends. Much like receding floodwaters, the northern Nevada desert seems only to reveal the watermarks of previous civilizations. But for those who attend the festival, the mountainside watermarks reveal a rising tide of creativity, idealism and hope.



So what is Burning Man? Even after nine years of making the pilgrimage to one of the most unforgiving landscapes in this country, I find this to be one of the most stubbornly unanswerable questions in my life — right up there with past lives and time travel. Explaining Burning Man is like trying to explain how light can behave as both matter and waves. It’s a paradox.

The festival began in 1986 on Baker Beach in San Francisco, when a handful of people led by Larry Harvey burned a stick-figured effigy. Some speculate that he intended to memorialize a lost love or dead relative. Today, Burning Man has grown to be a haven that attendees call “radical fre

e expression,” filled with sculptures, art galleries, restaurants and weddings both legal and non-binding. This year’s festival showcased a towering 40-foot metal sculpture of a woman dancing, entitled “Bliss Dance.” The festival draws a wildly diverse population, including engineers, gypsies, computer programmers, hip-hop artists and airline pilots. There are hotel owners, bankers, hippies, lawyers, actors and actresses. And for no two people is the meaning of the experience the same.

As one “burner” paradoxically put it to me last year: “Following the Man means following yourself.”


As the gale-force sandstorm ripped away from the desert floor my first day at Burning Man, bands of dust-covered people were revealed, clinging to tent poles and metal beams of dance-club domes and bars. Under suddenly clearing tatters of cloud and a double rainbow, I suddenly realized the electric feeling crackling in my bones was the feeling of the earth, still in its place spinning on its axis, but my body, my mind and my heart were stripped clean. That night, Black Rock City, lit like the Las Vegas Strip, perched in its familiar place on the edge of the galaxy, blazing in its calm rotation through the whirl of stars; it was my soul that was sent spinning to the edge of its limits. As Henry David Thoreau once put it, I finally realized, “Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.”

Burning Man, on the dust-choked desert, is my dream with eyes still open.

Photos of the Vibes

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Gathering of the Vibes 2010


Contributing Photographer – Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt []

Gathering of the Vibes 2010

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Gathering of the Vibes 2010

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward []

Contributing Photographer – Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt []

Mysterious death. Nitrous. Lightning.

These words became synonymous with the Vibes in 2009. Luckily, this year painted a different and greatly promising picture for one of the premier festivals still standing strong through the adversity and economical demise crippling the music industry.

Unrelenting rays of sunshine cascaded upon Seaside Park amid the dilapidated ambiance of the once-industrious port city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. It is an annual notion shared by many festival veterans- why is such a joyous event bordered by rust, aggression, and societal stagnation?

Perhaps we must see the other side of the fence to appreciate and embrace our own weekend musical backyard? Perhaps the venue is placed before us in an effort to strive for unity, tolerance, and innovation- an idea one would hope sticks to the mind as they head back to their humble abodes.

Vibes seamlessly conjures a childhood playground type of excitement. Bodies manically wander the enormous park. Many swirl in the Long Island Sound, while others place their toes in the sand.


Anonymous small pieces of paper are placed on urgent tongues. The skunky smell of pleasure and the pursuit of happiness wafts throughout the masses like a blissful fog sent by the Sandman himself- evoking his gracious intent over heavy eyelids encapsulating wide eyes.

It is a madness only contained within the confines of melodic beauty and jovial, manic cries to the heavens, “What the fuck is that??”

At the center of this New England circus are indescribable performances crossing our paths like a shooting star hurdling itself into the crisp, fleeting night.

The pearl is pried from the oyster while one stands in awe of perfection (Furthur tackling a 24-minute “Terrapin Station Suite” in its entirety Friday night), passion (Assembly of Dust unleashing its Americana soaked tunes to a sun-soaked audience howling along to “Sharecropper”, “Light Blue Lover”, and “Westerly”), powder-keg boogies (Deep Banana Blackout wearing out dancing shoes with a dizzying funkified freakout, which ended with the poignant “Let’s Get It On”), and promising acts (the magnetic Zach Deputy pulling hundreds into his orbit during an early Saturday afternoon set which included a sizzling “Magic Carpet Ride”>“We Want The Funk”>“Magic Carpet Ride”).

The four-day journey breeds when-pigs-fly collaborations (Keller Williams & the Rhythm Devils featuring Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann raising curious eyebrows with “Cold Rain and Snow”, “Uncle John’s Band”, and “Fire On The Mountain“ before handing the stage over to Primus who tantalized our minds with their unique brand of musical oddity- “Jerry Was A Racecar Driver“), starry-eyed youngsters maturing before our eyes (The McLovins side-stage, sweat-dripping “Tweezer Reprise” and “Rapper’s Delight” in front of an overzealous crowd begging for more), and legendary musicianship often few and far between these days (reggae cornerstone Jimmy Cliff brightening our days with “I Can See Clearly Now” and “Wild World”).

Gathering of the Vibes represents a lasting centerpiece within the national music community. While a handful went bankrupt, some relocated, and others had reputations tarnished, Vibes did not lay down and wallow- it took the reigns and reestablished itself as a desired musical destination where those in search of a sense of community can frolic freely amid an endless fury of experiences unique and sacred to the festival itself.


Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward []

Contributing Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt []


Documenting Nateva Just As

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward []

Contributing Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt []


Within the music scene, the only true constant is the mere fact there is no consistency.

Chaos (and the idea of flinging oneself into the jaws of the beast that is reality in its purest form) is your friend. You cannot survive unless you are willing to perish amid the unknown, wild, and mesmerizing experiences unique to being a slave-to-the-groove.

Taking the reigns from the unforeseen demise of the storied Rothbury 4th of July extravaganza, the inaugural presentation of Nateva provided for an ambiance of organized debauchery amid the mystical woods of northern Maine.

Though I had planned (last year) to once again be in Michigan for Independence Day, my reality soon became a long, sweaty, and bumpy ride from Upstate New York to the back-roads of rural New England- the origin of America.

Pristine lakes, lush forests, hefty local accents from those full of grit, pride, and welcoming arms towards those foreign to the surroundings. In essence, the exact physical and moralistic traits this country was founded on.

Nateva provided those in search of a melodic beacon-of-light with a weekend of unique performances (Keller Williams side-by-side with moe. Friday night for a cover of “Deal”), up-and-coming prodigies (The McLovins sardine can showcase within the Port City Music Hall stage during their sweltering mid-afternoon set on Saturday), universally adored duos (Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band tearing through The Beatles “I’ve Got A Feeling”), unbelievable stage antics (The Flaming Lips absorbing all of our sadness, loneliness, and frustration only to mold it into a euphoric happiness at the hands of confetti guns, balloons, and a brand of optimistic rock-n-roll unseen in this mad world), and utter disappointments from those once revered (George Clinton & P-Funk’s meltdown on Sunday, complete with a sloppy stage presence, erratic vocals and perhaps a vast departure from the P-Funk of yore- which left the crowd wondering what has happened to the King of Funk, should he finally throw in the towel?).

The calming, yet claustrophobic electronica presence of STS9 and EOTO pulled my eyes wide open, in awe of a glimpse of not only possibility and grandeur, but also the evolution of mankind. Their futuristic beats, paying homage to our ancestors, echoed off sacred land with a howl to creation and its greatest assets- humanity, rhythm, and dance.

Sunshine radiating over the carefree and innocence converging. The night sky sprinkled with innumerable diamonds. Late night shenanigans transitioning into early morning sunrise frolicking. Warm bodies embracing under cool covers. Weary heads and sleepy eyes drifting into their own imaginations- for tomorrow is another day.

Once again, the culmination of raw emotion and pure intentions fell across the feet of Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. The duo, always relied upon as a source of strength and vision, stepped up to the occasion and brought forth their latest offering, Furthur- a formidable, freewheeling machine harkening back to the past beauty (“Samson and Delilah” / “Eyes of the World”) and cradling nature (“Jack Straw” / “And We Bid You Goodnight”) bestowed by the Grateful Dead.

Nateva, who transformed an old fairground into a ball of energy illuminating the northeast, possesses a curiosity long lost by Bonnaroo, a spectacle short-lived by Rothbury, and a hopeful sentiment of comradery found few and far between in this unpredictable and often merciless existence.

Furthur – Nateva Festival – Oxford, Maine – July 4, 2010

Set I: Celebration> Samson and Delilah>
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo>
Cold Rain and Snow> Ramble On Rose>
When I Paint My Masterpiece>
Cumberland Blues, Casey Jones

Set II: St. Stephen, Jack Straw
Dear Mr. Fantasy> Eyes Of The World>
Days Between> Help On The Way>
Slipknot!>Franklin’s Tower
Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad
And We Bid You Goodnight

Encore: U.S. Blues