Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Keller Williams KIDS Album

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

RAVE REVIEWS FOR KELLER WILLIAMS’ FIRST-EVER KIDS’ ALBUM!
‘KIDS’ RELEASED TODAY

KELLER RELEASES HIS FIRST CHILDREN’S BOOK, TOO

LOOK FOR KELLER WILLIAMS ON TOUR THIS FALL, INCLUDING
AS A “SUPER MUSIC FRIEND” AT SELECT STOPS WITH
YO GABBA GABBA

“[Keller's] big-hearted wit is perfectly suited to the songs on Kids, a record that will entertain children of all ages without talking down to them.” – All Music Guide

“Kids sparkles with invention.” – Bob Etier, Technorati.com

Today, Keller Williams releases his sixteenth album — and first-ever album for kids and families — appropriately titled Kids. With Kids, Keller once again breaks new ground, staking out his next conquest: the absolute adoration of the under-10 crowd and their parents, caregivers, and relatives.

Kids has already been warmly embraced by such kids’ music tastemakers as Stefan Shepherd (Zooglobble), Amber Bobnar (Boston Children’s Music), Pamela Brill (Rockabye Baby Music), and syndicated columnist Lee Littlewood (Kids Home Library). Stefan Shepherd wrote that Kids “immediately shoots to near the top of my most-anticipated albums list.” Declared Amber Bobnar, “It almost sounds like something from Stomp or Blue Man Group that just builds and builds on itself. It’s really a trip!” Lee Littlewood included Kids in an “Incredible New Music for Kids” column, writing, “Williams’ high musical standards make Kids a superb CD for all ages.” Enthused Pamela Brill, “This CD blends Williams’ love of bluegrass and rock to create a unique sound that will resonate with listeners of all ages. What we like is that his music really gets it … he knows how to capture his listeners’ attention—and how to hold on to it.”

When Keller Williams addresses kids in song or words, it’s with extreme sincerity, respect, and more than a dash of his famous quirky, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Every song on Kids clicks into a kid’s world, from the bouncy, two-beat “Taking a Bath” to the compellingly hip speak-singing of “Horseback Rider” and “Grandma’s Feather Bed” to the catchy, rhythmic, danceable “Keep It on the Paper.” Keller’s infectious good humor and the compelling joyfulness of his songs invite young listeners to freely sing, dance, and play along, becoming true partners with his legendary creativity.

In conjunction with the release of Kids, Keller Williams is releasing his first children’s book, Because I Said So. Based on Keller’s song by the same name (included on Kids), the story is told through the eyes of “L’il Keller,” who learns that you can’t always get what you want, and there isn’t always a good reason why! Enhanced by the cleverly drawn illustrations of Fredericksburg, Virginia artist Bill Harris, Because I Said So is humorous, colorful, and wise. Included with the book is a CD containing the song “Because I Said So.” Because I Said So is available at www.kellerwilliamskids.net.

Also this fall, Keller expands his touring horizons to include kids and families, joining the Yo Gabba Gabba Tour as a “Super Music Friend” at select shows in the Pacific Northwest and California. Keller is one of many acclaimed artists joining Yo Gabba Gabba’s fall tour; also confirmed are Pretty Lights, Steel Train, Kid Koala, Big Head Todd and The Monsters, The Saltines, and others. Keller’s list of Yo Gabba Gabba tour dates is included below.

Keller Williams’current list of tour dates is as follows:
Friday, November 5 Rick’s Cafe Starkville MS
Saturday, November 6 Rock For Hunger Orlando FL
Wednesday, November 10 WOW Hall Eugene OR
Thursday, November 11 Wild Buffalo Bellingham WA
Friday, November 12 INB Performing Arts Center Spokane WA Yo Gabba Gabba! Live
Friday, November 12 Knitting Factory Concert House Spokane WA Keller Solo
Saturday, November 13 Tacoma Dome Tacoma WA Yo Gabba Gabba! Live
Saturday, November 13 Neumo’s Crystal Ball Reading Room Seattle WA Keller Solo
Sunday, November 14 Memorial Coliseum Portland OR Yo Gabba Gabba! Live
Sunday, November 14 Aladdin Theatre Portland OR Keller Solo
Monday, November 15 Hult Center for the Performing Arts Eugene OR Yo Gabba Gabba! Live
Wednesday, November 17 Humboldt Brews Arcata CA Keller Solo
Thursday, November 18 Memorial Sacramento CA Yo Gabba Gabba! Live
Thursday, November 18 Harlow’s Sacramento CA Keller Solo
Friday, November 19 Blu Nightclub – Montbleu Resort Lake Tahoe NV
Saturday, November 20 Great American Music Hall San Francisco CA
Sunday, November 21 Bill Graham Civic Auditorium San Francisco CA Yo Gabba Gabba! Live
Saturday, November 27 State Theater Falls Church VA
Thursday, December 2 Avalon Theatre Easton MD Keller Williams Kids Show
Saturday, December 4 Stage One Fairfield CT
Sunday, December 26 Fredericksburg Field House Fredericksburg VA SPCA Benefit
Wednesday, December 29 The Norva Norfolk VA
Thursday, December 30 The National Richmond VA
Friday, December 31 Neighborhood Theatre Charlotte NC

www.kellerwilliams.net

As The Crowe Flies | Interview with Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

As The Crowe Flies – An Interview with Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward [TheRFW.com/blog/Garret]

In the spirit of creativity and controversy, The Black Crowes follow a long line of rock-n-roll debauchery and grandeur, which is seemingly spearheaded by a dynamic duo of musicians throwing punches in the gutter and gracious handshakes in the face of success.

Within the eye of this melodic storm, Chris and Rich Robinson have garnered an array of material meticulously interwoven into the fertile American musical landscape. Their creations not only provoke reflection, for good or ill, they inspire pure pursuits of genuine purpose as we all mosey down the road a little further.

But, behind every cherished lead singer and guitarist resides an equally beloved drummer. For the Crowes, Steve Gorman is a perpetual force of reason, onstage and off.

At a recent performance in Vermont, Gorman is the backbone of an aged, yet “wiser for the time”, musical body, one that is currently immersed in their artistic pinnacle, thus far. The sextet provokes goosebumps with such ease, you feel intoxicated by the aroma of psychedelic-rock soaked with an embracing sound paying ode to the likes of the Grateful Dead, The Band, and Led Zeppelin.

Checking in from Nashville, he spoke of the road to redemption the band has taken over the last decade, why the group is going on hiatus in 2011, and how Ringo Starr never seems to get the credit he deserves.

Garret K. Woodward: Let’s get right down to it. Hiatus or breakup?

Steve Gorman: It’s not a breakup, it’s just “let’s stop with no guarantee we’ll start up again”. This is us being 20 years into this, six straight years on the road. Three of the guys have new babies. We just want to focus on other things for a while. The Black Crowes are an all-consuming band for the people in it. We’ve just have learned, hopefully from our past mistakes, about grinding ourselves in dust. So, we want to pull the plug before that happens again.

GKW: Since 2006, it seems you guys have been on the road the whole time.

SG: Definitely. We went from the early 1990s until 2001 without even taking at least a mental break. There are a couple times, looking back, we all agree that at different times during the 90s we really should have just shut it down and said “see you in a year”. And I think we would have made a lot of things easier on ourselves and probably consistently easier to follow. We haven’t made things really easy for our fans sometimes. A lot of those things come from being so close you can’t see it. So, we really want to make sure nothing like that happens again. It’s funny because it’s prompted by the fact that we’re really happy with what we’re doing right now. I mean, if we were sort of floundering and it didn’t feel like we were really on a roll, I don’t know if we even be having this thought of “let’s just shut it down”, it would probably be more of like “maybe we are done”.  Instead, it’s “this is really great and we need to protect this and do what best for it long-term”. If there is going to be another Black Crowes, there needs be a Black Crowes that’s been away for one or two years.

GKW: It’s funny when I tell people the band is taking a break after this tour, they all seem to ask if the hiatus is because Chris and Rich are going at it again.

SG: No, they’re fine. They each had babies. When you start bringing babies around, all your stupid childhood fights sort of fade into the background.

GKW: You guys have collaborated in the past with the Grateful Dead and they definitely have a big influence on your music. Like you guys, they did nonstop tours, pumping out albums. And yet, they didn’t take the right initiative and take a break when people needed time to rest.

SG: They are hardly the only band, but that’s a good example. I don’t know a single band, that’s been around more than a decade, that doesn’t look back and see “this is when we needed that break”. In 1995, early on and throughout that whole tour, we all had a conversation that, “when this tour ends, we should all go away for a while, take a year off, we really got to get away from this”. We had a rough tour. There was a lot of fighting, not just the brothers, everybody was at each other’s throats. There was a tough vibe for the whole tour. At the very end, the last couple months of the tour, we spent the summer in Europe with The Rolling Stones and then came home and headlined the H.O.R.D.E tour with Ziggy Marley, Blues Traveler, and Wilco, all these great bands. It got really fun all of a sudden. We went into the studio right when that tour ended because we were having fun again. The truth is, we should have stuck with our original thought. We got in, made a record, and by the time the next tour started it was like we never had a break. We hit the road dead tired. By the end of that tour, two members of the band had quit.

GKW: I lost track of you guys after the first hiatus (2001) and a lot of fans wandered off as well. But, over the last five years, you’ve reclaimed anyone who ever doubted the band or walked away. It’s very bittersweet when you put out a milestone record like “Before The Frost, Until The Freeze”, hitting this incredible stride, and now decide to take a step back.

SG: I appreciate that. We are very proud of that record. We’re old enough now to realize that it’s going to be around. That record isn’t going anywhere. If anything, I think the way people see that record will only improve over time. You give it a few years, it will sit in people minds as a benchmark. The truth is we need a break. As much as we’re all happy with the band, there is another side of us that knows if we go our separate ways and get focused on other things, it’s going to be hard to get it back together. But, we just got to see what happens.

GKW: How did the whole idea come about for that album to be recorded at Levon Helm’s?

SG: Chris went to one of his Midnight Rambles. We had an idea already to make a live record. We were thinking we’d be in a conventional studio, with 20 people in there, piled up in the corner, just to see what would happen, if it would change the energy of the room. After Chris went to one of the Rambles, he was sitting in the barn and realized it was a recording facility where you could fit 200 people in there. Levon said, “Come up, my home is your home, do what you want to do”. He wasn’t part of the project, other than he owned the facility. He wasn’t involved in the making of the record. We would have loved it if he’d have hungout more. Every four or five days, he’d poke his head in and sit down for an hour when we were taking a break. We’d all talk about how it was going, tell stories, and have a good hang. Then, on our very last night, he came in and we did a couple tunes, that weren’t on the record.

GKW: How much of an influence did he have on you as a drummer?

SG: Oh, huge. There isn’t a member in my band who wouldn’t count him as an influence. The Band themselves and Levon, quite specifically, is such a musician, such a gentleman, such an encyclopedia of taste, and all these things I think any real rock-n-roll musicians would want to aspire to.

GKW: Who’s the greatest rock-n-roll drummer, in your opinion?

SG: I have two. Ringo Starr and John Bonham. The thing that they share is that both bands (The Beatles / Led Zeppelin) are unimaginable with someone else. They serve the songs. Ringo has one of the best feels of any drummer. By people that aren’t musicians, he is so misunderstood.

GKW: I also felt he was always underrated.

SG: Only because they are the biggest band of all-time. Bonham could have tried all he wanted, but you’re never going to take The Beatles off the top of the mountain. They came in and did something so inconceivable that anybody could put in that amount of work. In seven years in the studio, they have like 138 songs everyone in the world knows. Nothing computed. I mean, my kids love The Beatles. Then, when Zeppelin came in, not as a pop band, there was this wave all about the musicianship and the playing and this sort of fifth member. When the four of them played (Led Zeppelin), they created this aura and this magic to that band. There were two different approaches. I mean, you can’t say anyone is a great drummer unless they’re in a great band. You don’t give the MVP award to someone on a .500 team. The band has to be great to even start to discuss if the drummer is great. A great drummer in a bad band is about as useless as anything could be.

GKW: It’s all about the cogs within the machine.

SG: Absolutely. It’s funny, drummers can pick apart John Bonham all day long about the technical things. Drummer might do that, but musicians wouldn’t. And there are a lot of drummers who are musicians first, then get into it. Then, there are a lot of drummers who go to the basement, put on headphones, and play along to The Who or Rush records and think they’re great drummers, too. Ringo and John Bonham are musicians who play the drums, they’re not just drummers. Rock-n-roll music is all about feel. John Densmore of The Doors is probably the most overlooked great drummer of all-time. No one talks about that guy. When you hear The Doors, you think of Jim Morrison, and he would have been useless in front of any other musicians.

GKW: With the Crowes rising into the upper echelon of American rock-n-roll, is it surreal to have kids and other drummers look to your style as an influence?

SG: I’m aware of that, but the truth is that’s something I’m not going to spend a lot of time thinking about

GKW: A humbling feeling, perhaps?

SG: Totally humbling. As a musician, all you can ever hope is you inspire more people. When a kid comes up to me and says I’m his favorite drummer, there is nothing anyone is going to tell me about The Black Crowes that will make me happier. This isn’t some kid that wants to play Rock Band, he wants to sit down and play the drums. Yes, those things are great, but I don’t spend that much time thinking about it. I didn’t become “that” because I felt that about it.

GKW: And that humble nature is what I have enjoyed about it. You don’t hold the listener at arm’s length. It’s a very embracing band.

SG: You know, we are really impatient people. We can be moody and snobby. But, in the big picture, where we are at, we don’t think about what the fans want from us, because we assume what they want is for us to keep being us. But, on a personal level, nobody is star-tripping out here, no one ever has been. On the first record, as things started to progress, we sold so many copies. We weren’t the bands moving to LA and working the malls. We literally were the guys on the bus, listening to Led Zeppelin bootlegs, going “man, check that out.” We always thought we have a long way to go. And, I’m not a jazz drummer on any level. I will never even attempt it. It’s a different instrument from what I play, in my mind. But, we were the geeks who would sit around and listen to Miles Davis albums. Not when other people were around, but when it was just us, on the bus. We just were always inspired and always chasing the greats, trying to be the kind of band that can interact and communicate with each other onstage the way those artists could.

GKW: When you’re behind the kit, during the show, when the band is hitting their stride, where do you go in your mind?

SG: It’s hard to say, because when the show’s done, it goes out of my mind immediately. You know, on a good night, it’s the feeling of almost like floating. You are present and in the moment. I know when something happens, in the middle of the song, when you might be hit be a coin or a bottle cap or lighter or t-shirt, it can feel like you’ve been snapped out of a trance. It can clearly be jarring. You find yourself in a state of complete focus and complete relaxation at the same time. And, it’s not because of what I’m playing, it’s listening to what everybody else is doing and we’ll hit these strides. We can all feel it. A lot of the things most exciting to us, the audience might not immediately get it. They’re hearing a song they like, and they’re happy, but there are things within that this look will go through the band like, “man, check this out, where are we right now?” Those moments, they are the best, but you can’t think about it either, because of the momentum. In the old days, we would try to steer it, now we try to hold on for dear life.

GKW: “Wiser Time”. A song that resonates deeply within me. It’s a staple of The Black Crowes catalogue and a melody that only seems to get better with age. Ironically, it seems, the lyrics apply more and more to the group as time passes. What does that song conjure within the band? How did it come about?

SG: It means a lot to me now. I don’t think your wrong with that sentiment. It’s obvious when we play it now. That’s a song that when it kicks in, there’s always this feeling in the audience. That’s a song that has worn the years well. I think it’s a much bigger deal now than in 1994, when that record came out. I don’t have any specific memories of putting it together other than it was the first song I ever played a cowbell on. I was just messing around with some different beats and patterns. I didn’t know what I was trying to get to. I had something else in mind. And Chris looked at me and said, “Wait, wait, what is that?” He looked at Rich and said, “Put those changes you were doing over that.” We completely pasted that whole thing together in five minutes.

GKW: If you were never to play together after this tour, is this the creative peak of the band?

SG: I would like to think that people see it as that. One of the biggest reasons I came back in 2005 was because I couldn’t stand the way it ended before. I didn’t think we had another big future ahead of us. I just wanted to come back and straighten up the mess we left behind. I didn’t like the record we had put out at the end. It was a chance to come in and sweep us the mess. If you had told me in 2005 that this was going to be a three album burst in three straight years, at the end of a six year run, I wouldn’t have believed you at all, I would have thought you were nuts.

GKW: What’s the legacy of The Black Crowes?

SG: That’s your job, man. I don’t have to think about it this time. We’re just doing what we do and everybody else can worry about those things.

GKW: So, let the music speak for itself?

SG: Absolutely. We didn’t change other things, we just kept doing what we’re doing. That was simply the focus. We lost track of some stuff and we got it back. The key is not to lose it again.

BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH RELEASE NEW ALBUM

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH
TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM
‘LIGHT THE HORIZON’
DIGITALLY IN THE U.S. OCTOBER 26
WITH A PHYSICAL RELEASE IN EARLY 2011
KICKS OFF U.S. TOUR DATES
IN NEW YORK CITY NOVEMBER 3

Toronto-based trio BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH is set to release their fourth studio album LIGHT THE HORIZON on October 26 in the United States. Recorded via the band’s own label Pirates Blend Records, the new album will be distributed in the U.S. through Nat Geo Music initially as a digital-only release with a physical release in early 2011.

The Juno Award-winning band–founding members Jay Malinowski (vocals, guitar) and Eon Sinclair (bass) along with new addition Sekou Lumumba (drums)–are determined to prevail after a period of reflection and restructuring. Since BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH’s last album, 2007’s Street Gospels, drummer Pat Pengelly left the group prompting them to take a break during which Malinowski released a solo album and the band formed Pirates Blend Records. Returning now with LIGHT THE HORIZON, BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH is back and in a fresh new way.

“It was necessary and I think it was great because it allowed us to reconnect with ourselves a little bit,” says Sinclair. “Since then it’s been amazing. Honestly, never better. Everyone’s feeling a lot more comfortable and healthy and positive and energized.”

LIGHT THE HORIZON–currently out in their native Canada–has received early critical acclaim (see quotes below). The band recorded the album in Philadelphia with famed DJ/producer King Britt, a member of the groundbreaking alt ‘90s hip-hop act Digable Planets who has worked with Macy Gray and Santigold and remixed tracks by everyone from Miles Davis to Everything But the Girl. The producer and City of Brotherly Love inspired the band to dig into their soul/R&B roots to evolve their sound and create something a little more urban. King Britt brought the guys to his regular Monday night Back 2 Basics residency at the club Silk City, where area musicians such as Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and members of The Roots still show up, sit in, and make music magic, which encouraged BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH to record the new album live off the floor–something new and liberating for them.

Of the recording process, King Britt has said, “Working with Bedouin Soundclash has been a breath of fresh air in our crazy music business. They are a killer band, who actually play their instruments, know their history and respect the architects!”

On tracks such as “A Chance of Rain” and “Mountain Top”, longtime fans will hear the expected syncopated island beat but this time supplemented by that seductively lazy delivery and some gorgeously brash, brassy horns for added soul. There’s the anthemic, yet melodically grounded “Elongo” and the monumental “Brutal Hearts,” a devastatingly gorgeous duet between Malinowski and 20-year-old soul chanteuse Beatrice Martin (aka Coeur de pirate) with string arrangements by the legendary friend to Philadelphia soul Larry Gold (see full track listing below).

BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH will also bring their innovative fusion of reggae, rock, punk and soul back to the United States this fall for a headlining run with Moneybrother supporting. It kicks off November 3 in New York City at Le Poisson Rouge, after which the band will make stops in cities such as Washington, DC, Cambridge, MA and Philadelphia, PA before hitting the Midwest for shows in Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis. They’ll round out their month-long outing on the West Coast in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and San Diego before ending at The Troubadour in West Hollywood on December 9 (see full tour dates below). The band previously toured the States during the summer of 2009 when they were hand-picked to support No Doubt on the Midwest leg of their reunion tour.

Critical Soundbites for LIGHT THE HORIZON:

“…their strongest album to date…Light The Horizon is the sound of a reinvigorated band finding a new creative grip…Bedouin Soundclash began their careers as a reggae rock band, so it shouldn’t be any surprise they’ve chosen to mix more styles than before into their music. Light The Horizon brilliantly showcases a newfound musical maturity.”

–Kate Harper, CHARTATTACK.COM, September 28, 2010

“’Mountain Top,’ the first single, is a great song, a ska-inflected tune with an irresistible hook, a message of persistence and a singalong chorus worthy of early Police: ‘Call it what you want, call it old punk rock.’ Of the other tracks, ‘May You Be the Road’ saunters alongside lush strings, while ‘Fools Tattoo’ gets the bright polish of horns, and ‘Brutal Hearts’ features a steamy duet between Malinowski and French-Canadian songstress Coeur de Pirate. Recorded in Philadelphia by King Britt, who specializes in remixes, there’s a new soulfulness apparent in the band’s reggae hybrid. The songs pulsate with a resilient energy, low-key and unhurried, topped by the reedy soul of Malinowski’s unadorned vocals.”

–Lynn Saxberg, THE VANCOUVER SUN, September 28, 2010

“Still owing an influence to The Police and The Clash, the group’s new record is nevertheless both deeper and richer than their earlier work, and features not only more harmonizing and brass instruments, but also an experimental use of arrangements and beats.”

–Ben Kaplan, NATIONAL POST, September 27, 2010

“…there are ample instances of growth and departure, notably in hauntingly spare moments such as ‘No One Moves, No One Gets Hurt’ and ‘Brutal Hearts,’ a duet between Malinowski and Coeur de Pirate’s Beatrice Martin.”

–Leah Collins, CANADA.COM, September 30, 2010

LIGHT THE HORIZON track Listing:

1) Mountain Top

2) Fools Tattoo

3) May You Be the Road

4) Brutal Hearts

5) Elongo

6) No One Moves, No One Gets Hurt

7) The Quick & The Dead

8) Rolling Stone

9) A Chance of Rain

10) Follow the Sun

BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH U.S. tour dates:

DATE

CITY

VENUE

w/ Moneybrother supporting

Wed

11/3

New York, NY

Le Poisson Rouge

Thu

11/4

Washington, DC

Rock and Roll Hotel

Fri

11/5

Buffalo, NY

The Town Ballroom

Sat

11/6

Providence, RI

Jerky’s Music Hall

Sun

11/7

Cambridge, MA

Middle East Downstairs

* Mon

11/8

Philadelphia, PA

Silk City

* Sat

11/20

Detroit, MI

Shelter

* Sun

11/21

Chicago, IL

Subterranean

* Tue

11/23

Minneapolis, MN

Varsity Theater

Fri

12/3

Bellingham, WA

The Wild Buffalo

Sat

12/4

Seattle, WA

El Corazon

Sun

12/5

Portland, OR

Hawthorne Theatre

Tue

12/7

San Francisco, CA

Slim’s

Wed

12/8

Solana Beach, CA

Belly Up Tavern

Thu

12/9

West Hollywood, CA

The Troubadour

* indicates Moneybrother will not be performing

About Bedouin Soundclash:

Formed a decade ago and named after Israeli fusion artist/producer Badawi’s 1996 release, Bedouin Soundclash debuted in 2001 with the album Root Fire. Their acclaimed sophomore release Sounding a Mosaic (2004) featuring the hit single, “When the Night Feels My Song” and produced by legendary punk-reggae bass player Darryl Jenifer of Bad Brains, earned Bedouin Soundclash their first Juno Award for Canada’s Best New Artist. Follow up album, 2007’s Street Gospels also produced by Jenifer, earned a “Pop Album of the Year” nomination and “Video of the Year” nomination for the single “Walls Fall Down” at the 2008 Junos as well as three Much Music Video Award nominations for their video for “Until We Burn in the Sun” in 2009. In addition to No Doubt, the band has also shared the stage with Ben Harper, Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Damian Marley, The Roots, Gogol Bordello, and Thievery Corporation among others.

www.bedouinsoundclash.com

www.facebook.com/bedouinsoundclash

www.youtube.com/piratesblendrecords

www.myspace.com/bedouinsoundclash

www.piratesblend.com

www.natgeomusic.net

BURNING MAN 2010 | PHOTOS

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

BURNING MAN 2010 | PHOTOS

Contributing Writer & Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt [ TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta]

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.

CREATIVITY, HOPE

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.

[ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER PHOTOS]

PARADOX

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.”

STRIPPED CLEAN

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.

Blackwater Music Festival 2010 | Photos

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Blackwater Music Festival 2010 – Live Oak, FL

Contributing Photographer : Fran Ruchalski