Sonic Bloom: Festival in Bloom
This weekend, Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado will host one the country’s most unique and intimate music festivals. The 2nd Annual Sonic Bloom Festival arrives fusing together an eclectic mix of jam band and electronic music with gorgeous mountain landscapes and an astonishing array of arts and crafts. This year’s three day Zilla campout will provide festival goers with an almost Burning Man vibe, encompassing everything from late-night Bassnectar DJ sets to fire performers, puppeteers and a plethora of vegetarian and vegan food. Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring costumes of all varieties and gifts of any kind. With a roster of artists that includes two nights of host Zilla, a live PA set from three members of STS9, The Motet, members of String Cheese Incident, Ooah, Pnuma (Live PA Set) and many more musical and visionary artists, Sonic Bloom enjoys a feel unique to both the jam and electronica worlds. Here, two worlds collide, melding together what is poised to be one of the summer’s most talked about small festivals.
To properly grasp the concept and overall appeal of a festival like Sonic Bloom, Jambands caught up with a few of the people that came together to make the festival experience what it is. We touched base with Justin Baker (Executive Director/Co-Founder of Conscious Alliance), Jamie Janover (Festival Organizer, Zilla) Michael Kang (Founder of Our Future Now, String Cheese Incident) and Souleye (MC, Artist at Large) to discuss all facets of the festival, from event greening to the area’s natural brilliance and what the Rebel Alliance Jam will bring to the stage. *To begin Jamie, what went in to putting together this year’s Sonic Bloom? Compared to last year, how did the festival’s preparations meet or exceed last year’s first run? * *Jamie: * A festival is a study in human interaction. It takes a large team of people to put on a festival of this scale, everything needs to be compartmentalized. It’s not unlike the way a business or corporation works where you have a whole team of people and each person has a different job to do. There’s a lot of people.
It really got started I guess in October of last year. I was checking out how our scene was building. There were a lot of kids who, I think, wanted something more. Two years ago I wanted to be able to do a special show and I kind of suggested to Aaron (Holstein) and (Michael) Travis that we do a mini festival kind of thing. So, I collaborated with Live Mountain Music, who booked Mishawaka Amphitheater at the time. I thought the Mish would be a great place to do it. It worked out really well last year and we found this new site and it’s way better. *As far as helping to plan a several thousand strong festival and align all the proper resources to do so, what kind of input did Conscious Alliance have and what role will the organization play at the festival itself? * *Justin: * Conscious Alliance had a very small role in the organization of the event. Our involvement is that we can be that arm to bring in the concept of making it a benefit festival. We can provide that outlet. We are very fortunate to be involved and grateful for all of the hard work put in by All Phases Production, Live Mountain Music, and Jamie Janover. Our main role has been to organize the charitable aspect of the event which is the food drive taking place at Sonic Bloom. All patrons that donate 10 non-perishable food items or $10 will receive the official Sonic Bloom poster. All food donations will benefit the Food Bank of Larimer County. *Souleye, you’ll be bouncing around, performing with a number of artists throughout the weekend. Tell me how’d you become involved with Sonic Bloom? At first glance, what do you personally expect from the festival? * *Souleye: * About two years ago I met Jamie Janover in Ocho Rios, Jamaica We where visiting the house Bob Marley grew up in. It was one of the most magical times of my life. *Jamie, in putting together Sonic Bloom, how did you come up with the pristine Red Feather Lakes location? Did you feel it was better suited than last year’s location up the Poudre Canyon at Mishawaka? * *Jamie: * Well it’s a super beautiful property with amazing views and lakes and beavers and all kind of stuff going on. We wanted a place that could hold a lot of people, camping and water access to it. There’s already a lot of infrastructure in place at the site. It’s really convenient and it’s just a really amazing spot. *What can attendees expect? * *Jamie: * Hopefully, for me, there’s a real community aspect where people make new friends that they haven’t made before. I hope that they’re there for three whole days. There’s music from the middle of the day until dawn everyday. We want to create more community. It’s really going to get the electronica community and the jamband community together. Hopefully they’ll realize that there’s a bunch of really great DJ music out there that they actually really like. The jam scene hasn’t fully embraced the electronica scene yet, but we’re watching that happen and progress. *Justin what are you most intrigued and excited about Sonic Bloom? * *Justin: * I am most excited about being part of an event hosted in such an amazing setting as Red Feather Lakes. There’s going to be a lot of improvisational line-ups and a lot of art there; live stage painting, fire dancing. I think this is really an art festival as much as it is for music. I would say just the many dimensions of art that’s going to be there. It’s not just about the music. It’s about the integration of art on many levels. Our theme is art that feeds people and I think Sonic Bloom is a reflection of that on many levels. *What are you most excited about for the festival? Will you be stepping in with a lot of artists as usual? Rebel Alliance Jam, Sonic Bloom orchestra? * *Souleye: * I am really really excited to reconnect with some people I have not seen in a while and to meet new people even if it is only for a brief smile and a glance in each others’ eyes. I find it fascinating to watch how much love and dedication goes into a festival. As far as my plans for performances, I am going to be working the festival kind of like an artist at large, when some one asks me to collaborate with them and create some new fusion I’m all in! I know the Rebel Alliance Jam and the Sonic Bloom Orchestra are going to be cosmic! *Jamie: * I’m looking forward most to the Rebel Alliance Jam and the Sonic Bloom Orchestra. I’m hoping that throughout the festival that a lot of people are going to collaborate and ask to sit in with each other. *Well I guess that leads directly into this. The question I’m sure many reading this will surely want the answer to: What can be expected from the weekend’s two all-star line ups, the Rebel Alliance Jam and the Sonic Bloom Orchestra? * *Jamie: * I think it’s going to be the first time that you’ll have folks like Lorin Bassnectar and Ooah on stage with a very diverse live line up that includes four of six String Cheese Incident members, three of five The Motet members and all three members of Zilla. It’s a combination of many different things and on top of that we’re adding a bunch of vocalists that will come up at different times. It’s a huge collaboration and it’s kind of a culmination of the festival merging scenes. *Justin: * It’s going to have a much more electronica feel to it. The other ones have been a little more jam oriented, I guess you can say. They’re always changing and it’s a way for the artists to support our projects. It’s giving them a chance to get to know other musicians and play in line ups they might not otherwise play with. *Since many readers aren’t aware of the concept of festival greening or what goes into doing so, please elaborate on that notion. Kind of explain the process of making Sonic Bloom green, neutralizing carbon emissions, all that good stuff. * *Jamie: * Basically, we’re trying to not only do a green event but also to publicize through people like you, education and one on one communication teaching people how to do this carbon neutral, teaching people how to do larger events with environmental impact in mind. One way we’re doing that is we’re selling a special ticket that you can voluntarily buy for $5 extra. That money goes directly to Renewable Choice to buy energy credits. *Michael, tell me a little bit about Our Future Now and the organization’s role in making Sonic Bloom a green festival. * *Michael: * Our Future Now, a project that is fiscally sponsored by Conscious Alliance, is helping Sonic Bloom to reduce their ecological imprint through a series of initiatives. These initiatives include the use of bio-diesel in generators, on-site waste reduction initiatives like removing disposable water bottles from the vending stream or using biodegradable plates and utensils, recycling programs and the purchase of renewable energy credits to offset the emissions of the event itself. However, the most important aspect of greening initiatives is to leave a lasting message with the attendees so that they may adopt these initiatives into their own lives after the event is over. The desired outcome is to have everyone involved take a look into how they may reduce their personal ecological imprint so that collectively, we can make a difference globally. *So I’ve talked to both Justin Baker and Jamie Janover extensively for this piece and we’re really tackled the whole festival greening notion, carbon neutralizing and all that. Are you familiar with all this? What’s your take on a festival being so forward-thinking to have these ideas that are good for the bands, fans and environment? * *Souleye: * To me, music is one of our gateways to the source to the seed to the idea of existence: The bridge between time and space. Deep, deep in my heart I know that we as a species are beginning to tap in to some incredibly new ideas for rebuilding and restructuring out lifestyles, to better suite a global world view of balance and harmony. Organizations such as Conscious Alliance are so important; they are key elements to the bigger picture. Introducing new avenues for people is essential, everything from organic food choices to having workshops during the day. It is all about cultivating a positive lifestyles and helping each other learn and grow. I believe that all gatherings especially those involving music leave everlasting imprints in the sands of time. The last key factors I can think of are the inspiration of entertainment, the coming together of community and the journey of life itself-‘Intention training.’ *How did Sonic Bloom become involved with Boulder’s Renewable Choice and how do they help make the festival what it is? * *Jamie: * Renewable Choice is our partner in the commercial energy providing world. They’re big providers of wind and other alternative energies in the area. They’re actually doing the carbon offset for Sonic Bloom. All told, all the travel, the driving and people flying in, equals a lot of travel time which means a lot of carbon emissions. What we’re doing is buying energy credits that will offset the emissions that are caused by the event. *What can festivalgoers do to limit the amount of carbon emissions experienced due to the gathering? *
Justin: Festivalgoers should do as much carpooling to Sonic Bloom as possible as well as purchase the Green Ticket from will the sales will be purchasing carbon credits to offset the amount of carbon emissions produced from running the festival. *Souleye, switching back to you. With this eclectic line up Sonic Bloom boasts, there will clearly be an abundance of cross-pollination and intermingling between the artists. What’s the most fulfilling and beautiful part of that connection and more generally, music? *
Souleye: Wow. The most fulfilling and beautiful part of musicIt’s magic, pure creation straight to the source. Music is able to shift our modes and emotions, dancing to me is so natural and fundamental, music connects us to one another, excites us and fuels a fire inside a never-ending powerful passion! I truly love how it makes me smile when I hear a really tight beat. I go spiraling deep in to myself and feel this surge of peaceful pleasure! *Could you imagine life without music? What would you be doing if this wasn’t your path? * *Souleye: * Life without music is like life with out breath. *Last question for you, can you talk a bit about the experience of being on stage performing, doing your thing, especially for a festival-sized crowd? * *Souleye: * When I am on stage I feel everything that I have ever been through, every struggle, every high, every low and in-between come pouring through me like a waterfall of emotions. I think of all the love that has absorbed deep into my soul. I feel like I am a warrior on a mission. And music is a portal of transformation. When I am deep in a performance there is honestly nothing better, because everything is with me all at once.
To kind of sum up Justin, how does working and contributing to Sonic Bloom compare to other larger festivals like Bonnaroo and Wakarusa?
Justin: The feel of Sonic Bloom is much different due to the amount of people that will be in attendance. After just returning from an enormous event like Bonnaroo, I am very excited for a nice cozy vibe. Almost all of our events get better every year. There’s obviously more awareness. The is the first year that Sonic Bloom has been made a benefit festival. The money we’re generating we’re putting towards the erection of our next food storage facility. *In your eyes, what’s the most beautiful, vital part of this scene that we’re in? How does it continue to survive and prosper in an age of mainstream media and corporate domination? * *Justin: * The most beautiful part of the scene we are in is the Conscious element we continue to further and inspire in the people who are not only a part of this scene but those who are just getting turned on to it. It continues to survive and prosper in the age of mainstream media and corporate domination because the Universe needs it to. Its all part of the Larger Plan.