Paradise Music and Arts Festival – Presented by Essential Productions and A-Town Roots

 April 29-May 1st, 2016, Pomeroy, OH

Written by Elisha Gud

Photos by Roger Gupta

One of my favorite things about music festival season is the few days leading up to a festival spent packing, preparing, and contacting all of your favorite buddies to arrange a camp site together. Together, we are all there for the music, there for the art, there for the connection and new experiences desired.  Another one of my favorite pre-festival things to do is to check the weather constantly. Always be prepared. A few weeks before Paradise Music and Arts Festival the weather read sunny and clear, but of course this is Ohio we are talking about and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for the weather to completely flip flop throughout the course of a couple weeks or even a few days. So we came packed and ready for the worst and best of weather; and whatever was in store for this year’s Paradise Music and Arts Festival.

Hidden in Pomeroy, Ohio is the beautiful Wisteria Campground and Music Venue. Upon arriving P-A-R-A-D-I-S-E; in big white wooden letters would later turn into a canvas for whoever felt a little bit of creativity to spray paint, draw or add some of their own love to the letters. There were two roads to travel down. In one direction were the kid’s corner, vendors, food trucks, and the side stage. Eventually leading you to the homedome where all of the festivals workshops were held to the left of the main stage. To the right of the main stage Osirian Flora Designs created a beautiful waterfall using bamboo, twigs, ferns, flowers, and huge gemstones from Cool Digs; located in the nearby town Athens, Ohio– it was incredible–water pouring out from different directions with big chunks of Amethyst illuminated by blue and purple lights. The path to the right you led towards the late night tent stage where many musical acts were scheduled to throw it down; as well as the rest of the camping area.

Besides music and workshops, art was a very important part of making Paradise. With huge wooden canvases posted up by the main stage you could often find Peter Wilke and Jerod Black otherwise known as The Guardian Aliens of Athens, Ohio spray painting graffiti art during different sets. I had heard of their work before but never had I seen it in action. The Symbiosis art Gallery was centrally located near the side stage were many different artists such as Vince Diabiaso, Gavin Gerundo, Isis Cuzzone, Sami Jo Giesel, and Anne Armbruster were interacting, live painting, and selling their artwork. Next to the gallery Logan Walden along with the Symbiosis Gallery provided and built the artist sound lab. The coziest dome you’ve ever seen at a festival, you could head there for late night music and games.

With day one being well under way and the Ohio weather being well, indecisive. Set times started getting shuffled around and I knew I didn’t want to miss any of the magic. I headed up towards the main stage where Waivada an electronic jam band from Athens, OH started off the weekend. I quickly ran back to my campsite to grab a rain coat and along the way ran into Dino Dimitrouleas, bassist in Oh Kee Pa— a band formed in honor of the celebration of Phish. Their set was soon so I scurried along to make it back. They started out with Wolfman’s Brother which I could hear across the venue. Afterwards I quickly hurried to the main stage where headliners Papadosio were gearing up to play their first of two sets. There were a few PA issues so they took a quick break. During such, I ran into the one and only photographer; Roger Gupta. One can only hold in so much excitement at once. Papadosio finally came back on and you could tell it was on. What’s the saying? No use crying over spilled milk? Well, no use letting a few technical issues rain on your parade. From there Peridoni geared up to play the first of two sets that they were scheduled that weekend. Afterwards I went on down to the tent stage to find my friends who were patiently waiting for Ernie Johnson from Detroit to start the late night stage off right, ending with Greener Grounds playing until sunrise.

It was the beginning of day two and the venue had a glow to it. Jones for Revival sent sounds booming throughout the venue and with a muddy and rainy Mondern Measure set on the side stage right after. Aqueous brought a little bit of Red Hot Chili Peppers to the day and set the tone for the rest of the night. It was a complete blast and one of the best sets from the entire weekend. From there Ekoostik Hookah played on the side stage before Greener Grounds played a second set in place of a band that couldn’t make it at the last minute. The band from Denver, Colorado that came to wow and amaze everyone with their jamtronica sounds and inspiring energy.  Throughout the weekend I heard many whispers around the entire camp about how they had been wowed by this band and how excited they were to watch them grow into something more than what they already are. Turbo Suit played their first of two sets as well as Boombox. The two piece band took the stage and as I even heard one festival go-er say “they boomed my box,” which apparently was a good thing. In the late night tent Manic Focus the live band got the grooves going for the second half of the night which then ended with a set from Marvel Years and Vibe Street late on into the morning.

Day three started out with an early afternoon set from Solecho and Strange Mechanics. Leading up to a fun filled set from my friends in Love Alive out of Columbus, Ohio. Peridoni then played their second set which led into what was called the Paradise Ensemble. Band members Dave Katz and Steve Sweeny from Ekoostik Hookah, Roland Hansen, AJ Gillman, and Matthew Buelt from Greener Grounds, Nicholas Gerlach from Turbo Suit, and Rob Houk from Aqueous all took turns along with the members from Peridoni creating a super sit-in, super jam that created so many smiles for so many days and resulted in a major family photo in the middle of the set. After the super jam by the Paradise Ensemble Ekoostik Hookah went on to perform on the side stage while Ethosine had their final show in the tent stage. I have had the pleasure of seeing Ethosine play many times, but the energy in which they brought to their last show made me incredibly grateful to share the experience with so many people. From there Boombox played their second set and afterwards Pink Talking Phish ended with covering Purple Rain by Prince. From there Stattinius and Alejo kept the tent stage going while The Floozies played the main stage. Ending the festival with another set by Turbo Suit, Aqueous, and a mix of members from Ethosine, Strange Mechanics, and Zig until the sun decided to come back up and play again letting us know that the weekend was over.

They say there’s magic in paradise and I am a firm believer of that. To all of the folks that came out and braved the mud and rain, bravo! Its intimate festivals such as Paradise Music and Arts Festival that make the festival season what it is. Getting caught in the rain with some of your closest friends and getting stuck under random tents to wait out a gust of rain creating new friends is what makes coming home covered in mud and water logged completely worth it. Well, ya know what they say. Ain’t no party like an EP party because an EP party don’t stop. If there is one thing I have learned going to shows hosted by Essential Productions. It’s that they won’t let anything get in their way.