Legend Valley September 20-23, 2018
Written by Michael Tucker
Photos by Tyler L. Goble of Zen Focus Photography
Follow Your Bliss -Joseph Campbell
“The law of Resonance provides the answers as to how the law of attraction operates and creates the events, conditions and circumstances in your life.” – A social media post by Resonance Festival as reposted by Zachary Williams
Prologue 1: Pre- Equinox Ramblings
The brightest light, it always comes from the darkest places-Big Something
As I frantically tied up loose ends during a busy week at school and work to prepare for our annual pilgrimage to Resonance, I went for a walk with my life-partner and best festival buddy ever Tara and, to my surprise, spotted the glow of a couple fireflies in the cool mid-September evening. Fireflies have always been special to me, and seeing their glow has often given me the comforting knowledge that all is beautiful and perfect even during the most painful of times. Fireflies are a sort of beacon of hope for me, and as a human who believes that nature speaks to us if we simply slow down and look or listen, seeing a rare straggler this time of year, when the intense buzz of cicadas has tapered off, gave me just the thing I needed to have the faith that I am on the right path—even during a stressful week. Resonance, along with the incredible band Papadosio and the splendid human family with which it is intertwined at its root, is like a firefly for me. Each year, it is a significant date on our calendar: we always plan for it, spend the money, and drive farther than we usually do during our busy schedule—and the universe has always made it possible for us to be in attendance. I am so grateful for that!
Prologue 2: More Than “A Historical Gathering”
About a week before the festival, Papadosio’s Anthony Thogmartin posted on social media that Resonance “will be a historical gathering.” After having attended, I’ll say he was right, but I’ll take that one step farther. For me, Resonance went beyond the realm of a historical gathering and into the realm of a mythic one.
Yes. I just said that. Before you tell me to slow my roll, I’ll explain. When I use the word mythic, I mean it in the same sense that Joseph Campbell, a brilliant writer and thinker who dedicated his life to the study of comparative mythology and religions, used the word. To Campbell, a myth is not a falsehood, but it is, instead, a touchstone that puts human beings in touch with a dimension of the universe that exists beyond sensory perceptions and allows for participation in the divine. In other words, myths are maps that allow human beings to tap into the infinite territory of our inner lives. Campbell spoke of the Navaho belief in “The Pollen Path,” which is a place of beauty on all sides, above, below, and inside the person who travels it. I like to think of it as an invisible trail of breadcrumbs— manna even— which leads each one of us to a very personal bliss. Over the years, Papadosio’s music has become a big part of my personal breadcrumb trail to bliss, and Resonance Festival has become a gathering that hits me on a mythic level. Resonance is nothing less than an experience of the most healing, unconditional love I’ve ever felt in a congregation of the most epically beautiful and colorful revelers in the universe. Ohio, indeed, knows how to party, and the fifth installment of Resonance is, hands down, the best festival I’ve ever attended. I found so many meaningful answers there! Thank you, Casey Schneider, Essential Productions, and Papadosio, along with all musicians, artists, staff, and volunteers for the hard work and love you poured into this weekend. It means the world to me, and I left it having undergone a transformation with a new vision and purpose. I am fully aware that this review is just one guy’s perspective on a beautiful thing bigger than himself, so my hope is that many of you will share what Resonance means to you in the comments. If you feel inspired, please share your experience with us. Do it!
Thursday: Fire Rite
“Don’t downgrade your dreams to match your reality, upgrade your faith to match your vision.”- A sign at Resonance
yes. correct. accepted–Papadosio in Fitter Happier voice
As Tara and I arrived at Legend Valley for our fifth Resonance, we wondered at the semi-post-apocalyptic festival grounds and marveled at the gigantic size of the dinosaur, both of which were results of the Lost Lands Festival from the previous weekend. We worried that things might be different and weird—and not of the good variety— this time, but were immediately comforted when the law of resonance brought us Sami Scurto, whom we had met on the Dosio rail last year, and her crew. We immediately set up camp beside Sami and the rest of the HQ crew. A big shout out of gratitude to Lukas for being so awesome and for giving me some wheels with which to put my dream in motion. We were happy to see that Jamie Danko survived Lost Lands, and soon thereafter, were thrilled to run into some of our favorite humans: Chris Crawford, Shianne Murphy, and their friend Damon, with whom we had previously raged Tauk in Baltimore. When, on our walk, we bumped into synth-wizard Billy Brouse, I geeked out about the excellence of the new Dosio record. Not a bad way to kick off Resonance, the Fifth.
Speaking of excellence, our first set at Resonance 2018, was Evanoff’s exceptional afternoon set on the main stage. This three-piece from Colorado calls their sound “Dream Rock”—and that’s an apt description for it. I went a little crazy when they played a dope remix of Polish Ambassador’s “Let the Rhythm Just” because that song means a lot to me. “Fight or Flight” was also super cool. Don’t miss the panoramic sound these guys make!
Post raging Evanoff, we slid right over to catch one of our favorite bands, Big Something, play a phenomenal daytime set. Tara and I have a special connection with this band because they have played our home festival Sleepy Creek a couple of times, and our friend and Sleepy Creek alumni Bill Solo is their tour manager. These dudes absolutely ROCK (among other cool things), and they whipped out “Waves” and a legit af cover of The Who’s “Eminence Front” in front of a nice daytime crowd. Master-shredder Rob Compa of Dopapod (with Litz’s own Pat Shine’s guitar btw!!!) joined Big Something on stage, and it was a blast watching him and Nick MacDaniels trade licks and wizardry.
Bliss is a word that comes to mind when it comes to Random Rab, and his set was the perfect accompaniment to our enjoyment of a couple slices of Disco Pizza’s dank veggie pie. During the silver-haired, shining one’s heart-opening set, we got the Rob Cathers/Mary Grace combo, and were touched to see that they had cut-out pictures of loved ones tucked away in their pockets who couldn’t make it to Resonance this year! I sent some extra love out to everyone I know and wished you were (all) here.
“We have each other right now.”-Random Rab at Resonance 2018
Holy smokes! Sunsquabi took us on a ph-ph- phenomenally funky spaceship ride that had me grinning while I got down, and The Floozies played a super-fun set while we danced as we staked out some prime real estate along the Dosio rail for our favorite band’s highly anticipated first set of the festival. By the way, I haven’t been so hyped to attend a festival ever, getting to see my absolute favorite band play songs off a fresh new (and so very relevant) album, one, that I might add, has me in my feelings in a way that has simultaneously knocked me off my feet and sent my spirit soaring. In a special moment that touched both Tara and my hearts, two of the coolest parents in the universe, Connie and Herb McConnell, made it a point to come over to greet us. We met them way back in 2011 at Rootwire (Kaeppners Woods era) and always find each other when we come to Ohio shows. Of course, their son Rob is the coolest bassist in music. I glanced around at all the beautiful souls in congregation as the excitement swelled into a crescendo as Papadosio took to the stage and launched into “We Are Water.”
One of my favorite things about raging a Dosio set with the fantastic people who show up is that it is a safe place where I don’t have to curb my enthusiasm for music and dancing—and that safe place is both rare and contagious; the love, empathy, and passion is palpable in that most special of places. The set was a magical blend of old (“Stick Figure,” “Advocate,” “No Quarter” tease in “Water?” “HNTF”) and new (“WSPM,” “Liminal,” “Content Coma,” & “Fire Rite”). I hope the trees enjoyed Anthony on the vocoder in “Write Sing Play Mix” as much as I did. The boys brought down the house with a hot as phosphorus rendition of “Fire Rite” as Tara and I melted into arguably the best group hug ever with the beautiful Trenton Kenneth Winslow Bell and Stephanie Clegg. 2018 has been a sort of “Fire Rite” for me as I continually learn to toss all my joys and pains, successes and failures, and strengths and weaknesses into the bonfire of my own vanities. The lyrics make me think of these powerful words from Nietzsche: “Be careful, lest in casting out your demon you exorcise the best thing in you” on a global scale. Thanks, as always, Dosio for having your fingers on that universal pulse.
Be careful that you don’t ignite. -Papadosio
It’s not your fault. – Papadosio in Anthony Thogmartin Voice
After Dosio finished, Tara and I had a nourishing conversation with Kelly Applegate about how much we’ve all been through lately and the astonishing amount of resilience we’ve all found through our recent trials and tribulations. We talked about how everyone we know, ourselves included, has been through a sort of purification process lately where we’ve all been facing stuff we thought we couldn’t—and the beautiful thing is that we’re all still here, and we’re all still dancing Please let’s all of us keep being there for each other. I will. Promise.
“With the Dead you get on a bus, and with Dosio, you get on a spaceship.” -Alex Popp
Our last set of the night belonged to our friends in Big Something. Of course, it rocked! We got to spend a few minutes with our hero Bill Solo and enjoyed big hugs with him. Bill shared that he got to enjoy a little of the magic of Dosio’s set during a brief respite from his hard work. Welcome to the spaceship, Bill. We hope you’ll hop back on soon! After the set, Tara and I were off to bed. More rest at night translates into extra rage tomorrow!
Friday: Off the Deep End
Whatever you do, big or small, do it right or don’t do it at all. –Litz
My Friday got off to a great start with some incredible VIP swag (dope pins and posters) from the man Casey Schneider himself. I’m grateful I got to tell about the time Anthony from Dosio’s Conscious Entrepreneurship workshop at the first Resonance at frontier Ranch way back in 2014 led me to the path (those breadcrumbs again) that resulted in me developing the courage to follow my bliss by taking that first clumsy step of going back to school which resulted in me working toward learning the craft of writing and led to me writing this article. I was touched when Casey, a guy who throws the BEST festivals, thanked me for grabbing our tickets blind faith. If I don’t have faith in much else, I have 100% faith that an Essential Productions line up will be a steal at blind faith prices.
“Do more; take less.” -Taco
After a Disco Pizza breakfast, Tara and I rushed off to see our funky friends in Litz. We were greeted by the man, the myth, the legend, Taco Olmstead, who was truly a man of many hats at this installment of Resonance: golden-voiced emcee, stage crew, band manager, festival FBI agent, and jack of all trades. I’m forever grateful to Taco for verbalizing the “Do more; take less” philosophy which he, along with so many others in this community, practices. Soon after, Taco’s wonderful other half, Elise, showed up with some gifts because we all know that Resonance is Taco’s birthday weekend! It made me so happy to be a part of Taco’s birthday celebration and Litz Family Reunion at my favorite festival! Happy birthday, Taco. We love you.
Tara and I were so proud to watch our Maryland homeboys, Litz including “Dosio fam alumni” Nick Thrasher, tear it up in the tent Friday afternoon with their set which attracted a nice crowd of Litz Family members and other attendees. Multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Austin Litz’s flute and keys melted into Pat Shine’s liquid guitar riffs, and the throb of Logan Litz’s bass and Nick’s fresh rhythms kept the crowd dancing. Shout out to the dude with the bottle of Sriracha sauce on his foxy rage stick. You never know when you’re going to need some hot sauce! I love that I can hear Nick’s love for jamtronica steering the band in a direction that includes innovative and diverse sounds. The Litz set included a couple of cool covers: Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” (fuzzy Valley Fusion memories) and The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Holy Sriracha! It was so much fun watching these guys shine at our favorite festival!
During the Litz pandemonium, as I watched charismatic front man Austin Litz work his magic as the frenzied crowd danced under the tent, I had an epiphany that there is this archetypal, mythic human need for a break from the linear daily hum-drum routine of Work. Eat. and Sleep. on Repeat, and that music, and especially festivals, carve out that Dionysian space in which we can let go and get weird. I’m thankful for the necessary, primal space these modern-day bacchanals open in my life for fun and celebration, and the fact that Resonance falls during the time of year just after the Concord grapes have been harvested adds an additional layer of meaning to this celebration in the grand tradition of the god of wine and intoxication.
Eoto played the dankest and trippiest dinner music ever as Tara and I chowed down on some deliciousness from Shady Grove Wraps. We bumped into good dude Paul Singleton, and headed over to Anthony’s EarthCry modular only set in the VIP area. This was completely mind-bending stuff: “some lost digital cat in some lost universe saying words” (Anthony’s words) or unlocking human potential with tones or something like it. Our minds danced while our bodies rested, and I’m glad we got to enjoy a set with Paul (finally)! A big thank you to Anthony for keeping it weird, and you’re welcome for our being receptive to it because we need it. We stopped by the merch. booth and were honored to leave a small offering from our beloved Sleepy Creek for the boys with the very kind Emily to show a little of our appreciation for all they do and bought a couple of new shirts for ourselves.
“Just a mild mind ripping.” -Anthony Thogmartin at the strictly modular EarthCry VIP set
And everything under the sun is in tune-Pink Floyd in Brain Damaged Eggman Voice
Deep in a sea of people, Tara and I fell out of time as the super-group Brain Damaged Eggmen (featuring members of Umphreys McGee and Disco Biscuits) payed psychedelic homage to The Beatles and Pink Floyd as we got lost in the glowing visual extravaganza from the fire-spinners and the beauty of the nearly full moon. I reflected upon the beautiful thread of musical history present at Resonance #5 (at an historic venue where the Dead played no less). Musical history—larger than life troubadours and mythic bands from the past and present including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Who and Radiohead—were all very present as brilliant bands such as Brain Damaged Eggmen, Tauk, Big Something, Conscious Pilot, and others payed resonant homage to them throughout the festival’s duration.
“This is off the deep end.” -Me in festival voice at Tipper
So, our first Tipper. Um. No words. Hard dancing. Tore out the frame. Well-played. Intensity. Too much. More Tipper (kinder, gentler sunrise) later.
“We’re going to take a journey to our wits’ end.” -approximation of Anthony Thogmartin words before Papadosio’s improv set
We made our way to one of our most anticipated sets of the weekend: Dosio’s late-night improv. set under the tent in time for soundcheck and got a full “Cue.” We enjoyed chatting it up with Nick Thrasher and Noor Seth before Dosio launched into a set that took us well-past wits’ end and demolished the already high bar of excellence and variation in sound and rhythm with an astounding array of NEXTLEVEL musical flavors. Dosio, how do you do it? With a little help from friends, Dopapod’s Rob Compa and Turbo Suit’s Nicholas Gerlach (DOSIO+SAX!!) plus dope visual projections on the tent carried us all into the next dimension. [Wow in Owen Wilson voice.] Best of all we got to dance with beautiful souls Brittany Emmett, Jeremiah D’amico, Melissa Williams, and Andre Soussan while we enjoyed the BEST PA SET YET right before bedtime.
Please stay tuned for Part II featuring Saturday and Sunday highlights. Same Bat Time. Same Bat Channel.
Don’t forget to leave that comment below about what Resonance means for you! Multiple perspectives are one of the things I love the most. Much love to all of you.