Alchemy Rising Music and Arts Festival

May 12-14, 2016, Pataskala, OH

Written by Elisha Gud

First year festivals are tricky, they can be unorganized, and sometimes even just a complete bust. After attending Alchemy Rising Music and Arts Festival brought to you by Alchemy House Productions at Frontier Ranch in Pataskala, Ohio this past weekend I’d like to say my faith in music festivals on the rise has been restored. Of course there are hiccups, road bumps, and the all around parking/camping confusions when you first pull in. The people at the gate are confused, they’ve never done this before, and they’ve been working tirelessly for days trying to make this go as smoothly as possible. For some festivals it’s difficult to get past this, you’re done before it’s even started. But for Alchemy, even though day one was a little rough, the rest of the weekend went by so smoothly that it paved the way for the future of Alchemy Rising.

With music playing such a huge role in the foundation of this music festival, the line up consisted of top notch performances from some of the best bands to come out of Ohio, Steve Sweney as an artist at large, and a few performances by larger bands to really set the weekend off right. The art gallery was in the old barn that was used for renegade sets at past festivals and workshops were held from there as well. I have been to Frontier Ranch countless times and never thought of the barn as a space for this. Jo Jo Davis’s brilliant idea wasn’t just used for art but, just in case the weather decided to turn sour–the art was safe, workshops could still be held, and this would become a safe spot to sit, learn, become engaged in something new, and get out of the cold and rain.

Day one and the music was well underway as bands Slap N’ Tickle and The Bees Trees sent sounds through the ranch. I was upset to hear that there were so many issues with the sound board for Dixon’s Violins set but stuck around to hear what little bit I could and managed to capture the perfect photo of him with some of his buddies afterwards. After Dixon, the first of two sets from Vibe and Direct hit the main stage. Beat boxers Lethal FX and Tony C crushed it inside the tent before funk and soul master Zach Deputy headlined the main stage and kept the party going for two and a half hours. Following Zach Deputy was Yosemight throwing it down in the tent stage. Meanwhile ,Nelsons Ledges’ newly named house band and up and coming rock stars Wanyama prepared to dominate the main stage with an epic sit in by Zach Deputy before he departed for Alabama. On the late night stage Electric Orange Peel or EOP as they go by for short kept the party going early on into the morning with their rendition of the Cha Cha Slide as Jim Garibaldi from Aliver Hall joined them to close out the night.

Day two, music didn’t start until 4pm so I grabbed some coffee from Heady Beans Coffee and took this time to walk around and see some of the vendors and participate in a few workshops. Rival Glass Ltd blew my mind as I and stopped to watch many times throughout the day as professional glass blowers created one of a kind custom glass pieces.  I sat in at Dixon Violins workshop for a little bit and watched as Justin Musgrave and Niko from Wanyama mixed together their drumming workshops and had people moving and grooving with different types of drums and instruments. While the drummers kept drumming I walked over to Tasha Walls beginner hooping workshop to try and learn a few things. As she was teaching the basics to some whom hooping was foreign to; I watched and tried to work on a few new things myself. David Gans then eased us into the day with a few Grateful Dead ballads, and Spacewhale got, well, spacewhale-ish at the tent stage. I came on down from the hill to hear some good ‘ol Pasadena folk, reggae before Steve Sweney sat in with Yosemight. Broccoli Samurai went on to play electro-jam tunes engaging the crowd before Marbin jazz-rock band took the stage. Dark Side Of The Moon covered our favorite Pink Floyd songs, and even busted out Purple Rain by Prince. Late night sets with Subterranean and Vibe and Direct included sit ins with other artists, live painters on and off the stage as multiple fans also joined them on stage to dance along. After electronic band Ghost Gardens laid down some beats in the tent the fans were graced with a surprise super jam consisting of twelve musicians on stage, band members from Aliver Hall, festival coordinator Jim Garibaldi, and members from other bands who played throughout the weekend.

It was the final day of the festival and music started early in the afternoon. Daytime music consisted of Jeff Klemm and The Letters, JoJo Stella, Drunken Sunday, The Almighty Get Down, Mister F, and another set by Dark Side Of The Moon leading us on into the night. Local Columbus band Sassafraz crushed it with a more rock and roll sound than they have ever played before. Keyboardist Thane Evans debuted a new instrument—a Moog Theremin which he played on a new jam titled, “Real Good” that is said to be released on an up and coming album later this year. Their set has been said to be a favorite for the festival weekend. Consider The Source followed continuing with more rock and roll vibes and face melting tunes as usual. The band got called up on stage for an encore which featured some soul-shifting super heavy metal energy to really get the crowd going. Late night long sets by Tropidelic, Broccoli Samurai, and four piece band from Canada–After Funk held down the closing set and despite the colder weather that rolled in, closed out the weekend with some funky melodic tunes that carried everyone through until morning.

It’s tough for a first year festival, we all hope for the best of everything. The best weather, the best attendance, and the best energy and vibes brought by the bands said to play, as well as the festival attendees. A few hiccups along the road is what makes the final product completely worth it. Alchemy House and the Alchemy Rising team did an incredible job featuring some of Ohio’s greatest undercover musicians and bands, while bringing some top notch acts as well. Look out for Alchemy Rising Music and Arts festival next year, because it’s not going anywhere.