Earth Night 2K14 Review
Dec. 19-20, 2014
written by Amanda Morgan
photos by Roger Gupta
As the cold of winter encroached on the heartland of the country, people traveled from around the country to Central Ohio for the one of a kind solstice celebration known as Earth Night. The winter solstice celebration that so many have come to love warmed hearts and lifted our spirits into an ecstatic bliss with ceremonious music, dance, art and activism.
For two nights and one day, like minded individuals from around the nation gathered in Columbus for an event fueled with passion and intention.
Friday night at the Park Street Saloon was an incredibly intimate setting, kicked of by the Third Nature, the experimental trio based out of Asheville. The band created beautiful soundscapes of melodies with bass, vocals, keyboards and synthesizers layered together over bass drum. The trio was joined by a tantalizing female vocalist, Lilly-Anne Merat, for their Friday set, and had the audience dancing and singing along as the venue began to fill up. Also taking the stage Friday night was EarthCry, the experimental and environmental philanthropy side project of Papadosio’s own Anthony Thogmartin. The healing sounds of Thogmartin’s production really set the tone and intention for the rest of the weekend and heat and vibrations of the audience quickly raised with the music. EarthCry is well known as festival favorite, but it is also very much a project to heal humanity and the planet, and half of all proceeds are donated to different ecological initiatives throughout the world.
“In a lot of ways we’re making an attempt to re-establish the meaning of people gathering around music,” said Thogmartin. “ We want people to make lasting connections so that we can form an alternate community.”
By the time Papadosio took the stage, Park Street Saloon was packed and pulsed with the energy of several hundred people. The live PA set was nothing short of magnificent. The fully improvisational set was inspiring and reminiscent of the early days of Papadosio.
Saturday was filled with a day long workshop series aimed at opening minds and creating a more sustainable planet. The wonderful Jason Takahashi, who does all of the videography for Papadosio and who co-created Earth Night opened the workshop series and introduced Abraham Nabors. Nabors, of Mustard Seed Market & Cafe in Akron, OH spoke on “How to Eat Healthy on a Budget” and gave really solid advice. The food movement has really taken off in the past several years, and sustainability starts with sustaining ourselves. The next workshop was lead by Jeroch Carlson of Osirian Flora/Sunflower Community. Osirian Flora Design Collaborative in Amesville, OH creates unique sculptures, installations, and landscaping while utilizing natural and repurposed materials, and strives to help bring awareness to Mother Earth. Anyone unable to make the workshop still got to appreciate the beauty of this natural art form through the sculptures onstage during Saturday’s shows.
Local environmental activists Carolyn Harding and Greg Pace spoke to the audience about the Columbus Community Bill of Rights, an initiative to ensure safe drinking water, clean air, and safe soil in the City of Columbus which is currently plagued with 13 injection wells near the water supply, where radioactive and toxic liquid waste from unconventional natural gas extraction (shale gas, hydrofracking), is being injected into the earth, with great potential for migration into our water supply. The inspiring talk suggested that attendees get involved to protect environment in their own community. Anthony Thogmartin took the stage next with a workshop entitled “The Fantastic Felicity of Frequencies,” in which he discussed the many frequencies of light and sound. Anthony spent a lot of one on one time with audience members after his workshop answering questions and spreading his joy for creation of meaningful healing music and art. Following Thogmartin, the final workshop was given by the lovely Hemp Fairy Lauren Berlekemp. Her presentation on Re-imagining the Heartlands: Turning the Rustbelt and Brownfields Green surround the legalization of hemp for food, textiles, and even building. She discussed what it would be like to use hemp as a staple in urban agriculture, and what an incredibly sustainable material. She encouraged us that we have the power to spread this message of bio-intention to create true bioremediation with hemp.
After the workshop series, the attendees enjoyed delicious food and treats from Seed to Serve while visiting with one another at the Park Street Saloon and continuing to discuss workshop topics with one another and the speakers. The workshops were a great addition to the weekend, and those who attended left well fed, inspired, and fueled with desire to get involved in their communities. While the focus of Earth Night was most certainly the music, dance, art, and celebration, the intention to create positive environmental change was also a major factor. It’s important to be aware of the many environmental and social issues and take action.
“I want people to have a wonderful experience and leave feeling the power to talk to people this season about things that matter,” said Billy Brouse – synths, guitarist, and vocalist for Papadosio. “Be that guy at the table this holiday season with your family, but don’t go too hard on them. We’re all friends here.”
With workshops ending at 4 p.m. and music beginning at 8:30, I had a few hours to explore Columbus, make a pit stop at the hotel and then head over to the Lifestyles Community Pavilion just before Jimkata took the stage. Nearly 2,000 wonderful souls had the place packed by the time Jimkata came on. The electro-rock group literally shook the walls of the LC with their 90’s electronica-feeling indie rock. With Evan Friedell’s awesome lyrics and vocals supported by Aaron Gorsch on guitar and keys, Dave Rossi on the bass, and Packy Lunn on drums, the night was off to the right start.
Just as Jimkata finished I had the chance to catch up with some of the many talented Earth Night musicians as Dopapod was getting ready to take the stage. To be perfectly honest, the energy backstage was just as celebratory as the energy in the audience, made even more so when several members of The Werks rolled up. The green rooms were filled with hugs and laughter, and the sounds of instruments being tuned as I spent some time talking with the members of Papadosio about what they want participants to take home with the from Earth Night.
For me Mike Healy, drummer for Papadosio really summed it up well. “I want people to take something positive away for their own lives, and to continue working towards whatever it is that you want to see happen in the world,” he said. “I want to see people being more excited about creating these values in their own lives. Walk away from this with excitement and creativity, rejuvenated to take new ideas and skills out into the world and share love and light.”
As Dopapod took the stage I headed back to the audience and took a place in a large group of friends front and center, one of my favorite spots for a favorite band, and I danced for the next hour straight. Dopapod always impresses and Earth Night was no exceptions. What can we even say, Eli Winderman’s keys are always incredible. Rob Compa killed it on the guitar, Chuck Jones is my new favorite bass player ever officially (sorry Stasik – I still love you) and Scotty Zwang’s drums are awesome. The whole set was phenomenal, but I got especially excited during Faba.
After a little break, Papadosio took the stage. The band opened with Magreenergy, and the audience was off on the wild journey that is a Papadosio show. The crowd went wild as the band rolled into “Puddles for Oceans”. The L.C Pavillion was filled with people hugging and dancing with each other as they sang, “don’t limit emotion, trade puddles for the ocean.” As the set progressed it became clear that Earth Night is a celebration for everyone involved as much as for the attendees. The beautiful and uplifting songs were complemented by the incredible lights that audience members look forward to at Papadosio shows and inspiring photography and art produced by Takahashi. Some of my all time favorites were played throughout the night, including The Elephant I Presume and Garden, with Rob Compa from Dopapod sitting in. The crowd all sang along to Find Your Cloud, and went wild again as a beautiful aerial silk dancer ascended from the ceiling towards the end of the set. She was one of the most talented aerial silk artists I’ve ever seen and performed absolutely wonderfully. During the finale, the audience received another special treat – a super special version of The Plug. Papadosio members were joined by Eli Winderman, Rob Compa, and Scotty Zwang and played together for nearly 20 minutes before wrapping up the show with a warm thank you, and dancing off stage together. Leaving the venue the audience carried the positivity of Earth Night out into the streets of Columbus. Of course we never wanted Earth Night to end, but were filled with joy in having shared in such a meaningful gathering together. I am certain that all who attended would agree that Earth Night in Columbus, Ohio is the most amazing solstice celebration around.