The Rise of the Phoenix-  Rootwire Transformational Arts Festival 2016 ~ Poston Lake, Athens, OH

Written by Elisha Gud

Photos by Paula J Quatkemeyer


After the hard fall Rootwire took in 2014 it was incredibly difficult for me to believe that the festival could ever make a comeback. I mean…when I caught wind that they were going to try it again, I laughed. I was a disbeliever for a couple of months until I soon realized that none of my friends had time to hang out. They were all too busy working on Rootwire things. “Sorry Elisha, Rootwire meeting tonight, can’t hang,” Brian Hockensmith (director of media) said to me countless numbers of times. It didn’t take me long to realize that they were serious, and that Ed wasn’t going to give up on Rootwire that easy and that quick. As I saw sneak peeks of the new Rootwire they were building and creating throughout the year I couldn’t help but squeal with excitement. A festival based on the foundation of transformational and informational workshops every single day, free massages and Reiki healing in the healing tent daily, yoga workshops, the art gallery, visual performance and fire crew, and most of all MUSIC all being brought together at one of my favorite venues in Ohio. Throughout this review I am going to add 20 things that Taco talked about in his workshop Saturday—Inspire to Aspire; that I truly felt went along with what makes Rootwire…Rootwire.

1. Care for people. Show them you care by your words but more importantly, through your actions.

Poston Lake and Music Venue is located fifteen minutes outside of Athens, Ohio. I had spent many summers there in college hanging out and playing in the lake, or just camping and grilling out with friends. It is now home to many different music festivals that I have had the pleasure of attending or being a part of. Never in the seven years that I have frolicked on that land have I seen it look more beautiful than it did for this year’s Rootwire.


2. Enthusiasm is contagious. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer.

3. Be trustworthy, keep your word.

I arrived to Poston Lake after a hard day of work and closing down the bar at 5:30am due to Brian Hockensmith texting me nonstop asking me when I would be there. Upon my arrival I was handed a bottle of whiskey and a jar of pickles (my favorite of course) by fellow photographer August Jordan and his lovely lady Maggie. We bonded quite a bit in those wee hours of the morning as it started to drizzle. Thankfully I had my tent all set up before the big storm just in time to help them hold their tent up as the thunder, lighting, wind, and rain raged above us.


4.  When in the company of strangers, if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.

5. Build people up. A small compliment goes a long way towards a hard day.

The rain kept going at a slant for a good portion of the day and even on into the night allowing for a little bit of progress setting up the kid zone and other workshop spaces. As I commandeered the EQ golf cart for the day I found myself doing many thing other than those that I had been assigned too. Running around delivering tables, tents, poles, dancers, props, helping out with anything and everything that needed to be done, or anyone that needed a helping hand–I even found myself doing what I do best…delivering ice cold beverages to the hard working staff at the front gate.

6. Stand your ground when life tries to push you back.

7. Be transparent; be honest about your flaws.


As the day went on workshops such as Dhanda Staff Yoga, Creating Your Own Crystalline Sacred Symbols, 7 Elements of QiGong, and the Cuddle Workshop kicked off around the intention stage and pink dome. Thursday night kicked off with an intention setting brought to you by Julie North, and Dixons Violin which proceeded into an epic set by New Thousand (my new favorite band) continuing on the vibe and intentions everyone had set just moments before. From there the night continued with Trees, Consider The Source, Dave Espionage, Moonhawk, Kashmerik, Moonlight Bassin’, and MIIIIM from late afternoon all the way until nearly sunrise.

8. Actively listen to people when they speak. Make eye contact.

9. Be a dreamer by setting big goals.


As I woke up Friday morning I was excited with workshops starting bright and early at 10am and going until 4pm everyday there was so much to do. I hit up the healing tent which had a staff of 18 different people specializing in all different kinds of healing, 8 people working at a time from 10am-5pm everyday giving festival goers free 15 minute sessions every day. The opening ceremony was nothing short of spectacular, as everyone flocked from the workshop area to the main stage field filling up with bodies as we all welcomed in the North, South, East, and West. By the end of it all we were brought together in one giant, big, warm hug screaming and laughing as loud as we could. Afterwards workshops continued and music started.

10. When asked for criticism, be constructive. Be thankful for being asked for your input.

11. Treat every person you encounter the same that you would anyone else. We are all ROCKSTARS!


New Thousand set up by the pond and did a daytime set for anyone who wanted to listen, while Cosmic Village, and Foto took the stage. A dear friend of mine had been stuck working the artist check in gate for hours on end so I gave her a little bit of relief, told her to leave her radio with me while she checked out Dixons Violin and had a couple hours of fun around the festival grounds. It was fun taking a step back from doing media while I checked in artists such as Random Rab, Elementree Livity Project, a couple performers with Quixotic, and Govinda.

12. Be confident in all things you do. Confident, not arrogant. This is what leaders are made of.

13.Stay calm and cool, nobody likes a hothead in difficult situations.

Saturday was packed with tons of workshops and music. I made a promise to myself that I would put down my camera for a little bit and focus on being an attendee at a few workshops…that only sort of worked. I made it to two workshops, kind of without my camera. Elise had her first workshop ever based on creative writing; she handed out little notebooks and encouraged people to write about their day and intentions while reading excerpts of creative writing from some of her favorite books while battling up against another big workshop–the ones that did attend I noticed couldn’t keep their pens down. There was a quick break between Elise and Taco’s workshops where the kids came through with the kid parade which was something not to be missed. Afterwards Taco put us all in tears talking about what inspires us all and how we all can inspire each other.


14.Share your influences.

15. Know where you came from and acknowledge the contribution of the people along the way.

16. Always keep your word.

Afternoon music started with the Fat Catz, and BAOKU—whom I had met earlier on in the day and was so kind to lend me his cell phone charger so I wouldn’t miss his set. By nightfall Qiet, Ghost Gardens, Vibe and Direct, Yheti, and EOTO took the stage. With a final performance by Manitoa, emotions and energy were high, and I would personally have to say it was one of the best performances of their whole career. They rocked out like they hadn’t ever rocked out before, and I had never been happier to see them play together as a band than in that moment when they poured everything they had onto that stage. The night continued with incredible fire performances and music from Psymbionic, Magnetic, DeltaNine, Tingari, Gotama, and a sunrise set from Somadose.


17. Always be true to yourself.

18. Always be willing to learn that you were wrong.

19. Never say I told you so, unless it’s a really good friend.


Sunday ended with a few workshops and one lovely closing ceremony. If there’s one thing I must say about Rootwire…it’s—a lot of festivals have a hard time coming back up from such a big loss. Rootwire has done it, Rootwire is doing it, Rootwire will do it.

20. Let people learn the hard way, Love in everything you do.