Gratifly Music and Arts Festival Review
Written by Kaylee Zielinski
photos by Kaylee Zielinski and Flickr slideshow photos by Lucid Spectrum Design
Gratifly Music and Arts Festival was held in Westminster, South Carolina on June 25th through June 28th featuring music, workshops, discussions and community projects on all four days. The beautiful event grounds had simple pathways led by small rocks and dirt along with a huge mysterious wooded area for campers to post up. Gratifly was more than a music festival it was a transformational gathering that encouraged every attendee to open up their hearts and discover endless possibilities and knowledge.
With rules like “Respect One Another,” “Learn Something,” and “Honor the Space” it was difficult not to have a contagious vibe circulating throughout the festival. The land was free of trash and littering. Meditative zones were held in private spaces and people took advantage of the bonuses like the workshops being offered.
The lineup was predominantly electronic bringing big named Djs like Phutureprimative, Emancipator, ESKMO, and Aligning Minds while also keeping it fresh with 2 performances by Papadosio and other bands like The Werks, Nadis Warrior, Dopapod, Rising Appalachia and The Malah. There ain’t no rest for the wicked because with 3 main stages and impromptu set ups, music was played until noon the following day. Some attendees wished there were more bands in the lineup. South Carolina native, Will Johnston said “I would like to see a bluegrass band near the top of the lineup. Something like Infamous Stringdusters would be rad.”
The Tribal Council stage was a favorite to many as it was nestled in between a gorgeous river and infinite trees. Attendees were free to post up their hammocks in the woods or on a wooded structure that resembled a pirate ship. Kim Maier, resident of Baltimore left her hammock all weekend without it being disturbed. “I felt like a kid in the best tree house I could imagine. On night two of the fest, my boyfriend and I set up among the sea of hammocks and listened to Random Rab as the sun rose. We left our hammocks there on several occasions always to find them right where we left them and with sleepy people enjoying them while we were gone” says Maier. Cutouts of lycra spread over the stage in a sacred fashion creating shade and patterns over dancers.
Gratifly’s producers prided themselves on the workshops and speakers that they had to offer. There was a daily Kirtan at 9am with yoga at all times of day in quiet and serene locations. There was a community art project made of wood pallets that were placed together creating a tiny maze like structure. Everyone was encouraged to paint on this “canvas.” Paints, brushes and stickers outlined the outside making it easy to grab a brush and contribute. Discussions and speakers touched base on permaculture, sustainable living, and even the faults and problems that Burning Man creates.
Appalachian Jamwich Featured Artist Michael Garfield hosted two events “Taking a Cosmic Perspective” and “Entertainment as a Social Action.” On Friday in the Healing Sanctuary, Baltimore’s own Yoga Christy hosted “Reiki Energy for Beginners.” “I wish I went to more workshops, but I checked out a discussion lead by Skytree and Michael Garfield which was really neat” says Yankauskas. Other workshops included Shamanic healing, poi, drumming, holistic health, massage, face painting, acro play, and many more – all open and free to Gratifly participants.
The food and craft vendors were all placed in a cluster making it easy to make decisions on what you needed at the time. Food was extremely affordable and the varieties of tastes were sure to please meat-eaters and vegans. Georgia resident and Gratifly attendee Katie Yankauskas “The vendors were great, I bought a pin and some prints. Good people with good stuff. The food was awesome too and I was surprised about how cheap it was.” Mad Tea Party Jam vendor, The Loaded Potato showed up on the scene dishing out his famous spuds along with generous breakfast platters and burgers.
Similarly to Rootwire, Gratifly creates a gallery for Visionary Artists to display their work and art. Artists included Andy Reed, Rae Vena, Krystle Smith, Olivia Curry, Stephen Wells, Christian Jaxtheimer, Andrew Wagner, Bonnie Goodson, Sarah Cat TRACY, Emily Kell, Michael Garfield, Randal Roberts, and Dela Artist. These artists could also be found live painting to the left of the stage.
Even though the rules strictly read “No pets” many people treaded the ground with their faithful pups by their side. One of the landowners said, “It wouldn’t be that much of a problem if people would clean up after their pets and of course you have to think about the dogs fights.” Johnston agrees, “My least favorite thing was these two wooks with pit bulls who attacked every dog they saw. At one point I saw one shake some little dog around from its neck.” Next year, attendees hope the rules are more enforced when it comes to bringing your pet.
It is safe to say that Gratifly is Part One of the transformational, intentional events in the month of August. Rootwire obviously being Part Two. Many of Gratifly’s attendee’s will pack up and make the trek to Ohio for Papadosio’s annual festival, Rootwire.
Jack Bradshaw who considers himself a “Dosian” (similar to the coined term “deadhead” but follower of Papadosio) says Rootwire is the reason he’s so excited to return “home” to Magreeneey Woods. “Gratifly just had that esoteric magic. That “it” factor. As soon as you thought you had it all figured out, another facet displayed its sheer amazingness. This is how my experience was at Rootwire last year. Is it the loving people? The amazing and diverse music talent? Perhaps the majestic landscape, in all of its wonder? The answer is all of it. Gratifly had it. Rootwire has it.”
“The best part about Gratifly was the size itself. Gratifly was a very small intimate festival, so it was pretty easy trying to get to know everyone who was a part of the festival as a whole. The people and overall community of Gratifly were very loving, easy-going people who shared a lot of warmth and love. Gratifly was so much more than the music” says Yankauskas.