Written by Erin Beck.
Pyro Arts & Music Festival, featuring fire as art and Nahko and Medicine for the People at the beloved Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Ohio, is scheduled for June 6-9, 2019. Organizers say 2019 will be “a year of unity, dreams and collaboration that brings our love together when the world needs this connection more than ever…” They add that “with the numbers 69 in the date this year and this being the 50th anniversary of the summer of love, Pyro is set to be an East Coast love fest.”
The line-up also includes Wookiefoot, Rising Appalachia, Satsang, Mike Love, Jon Wayne and the Pain, Tim Snider, Dustin Thomas, Chase Makai Band, John Welton & The Awakening, Stephen Lewis Band, Dixon’s Violin, Imdubious, Useful Jenkins, Yaima, Madison Pruitt, Christina Holmes, The Hills and The Rivers’, and Wanyama.
Dustin Thomas, a globetrotter and singer-songwriter known for his blend of beat-box/soul-funk, uses his platform to encourage awareness and consciousness about environmental and social justice. He agreed to chat with The Jamwich about his music, his motivation, his mission, and the festival.
I understand you took some time off recently. Tell us about the need for the time off, how you spent it, and how you feel now.
Who told you that? Ha ha I never take time off. I didn’t tour for a few months but I was hard at work for the collective. I spent most of my time helping other people with their projects while I’ve been working on new songs and mourning the demise of truth in America and freedom in the world. As far as the need for time off, you know I feel like our parents and their parents never had time off, you know us working class types? It’s just the way of this age to work until you can’t work anymore. I’m trying to make a difference so I only plan on having more to do, not less. I do love making time to just focus on the moment though. I like to recharge in nature, by the ocean, or just waking a walk and enjoying the flowers.
Your music is very environmentally and socially conscious. Over the last few years, I’ve seen our policymakers causing more harm, but also seen some people who care about social and environmental causes becoming more interested in becoming politically-involved, and more aware of the importance of love and spiritual connection. Tell us what you’ve noticed.
I’ve noticed a cabal of evil men doing evil things. They caged the bald eagle. They put Lady Liberty in chains. The brought about the death of sanity and the assault of the sane. It’s crazy to think so many spent years saying this very reality would come to fruition and now it’s here. This is a spiritual war. This is good versus evil. It’s hard to always speak about it all the time because it’s like the boy who cried wolf except the wolf is the destruction of all that is holy. I spent a lot of time giving everything I knew how to give to unify and awaken. I still do but I’m learning that there is enough going on the world people don’t need to be reminded at just how awful things are but at the same time I know people thirst for truth. I’m putting my focus on building community and doing what I can for the people around me while making songs that can help people get more in touch with their feelings, If they love themselves they can love others, if they love others, they can love the world. If they love the world they will feel responsible for its future. So that’s my mission.
While Trump was elected in 2016, his election wan’t surprising to me because I had been conscious of the same kinds of feelings he has voiced among many people I’ve known throughout my life. That said, it did create a sense of urgency for me – I felt it was even more important for me to try to understand other people and to speak up for the marginalized. Has your music changed over the past few years as some of the most hateful voices have grown louder? How have you responded?
I’m not gonna even address that person in depth because he’s a poison, but I will speak to the ailments of his disease. It’s like in Harry Potter where they don’t say his name, except the opposite. He’s the janitor who doesn’t have any power, He’s that journalist who uses spells to lie about everything and people just fall for it. This being is an entity of prophecy and at the same time a mannequin dressed up as a dictator. I don’t believe he was inevitable. I believe he was marketed. Most people are driven by suppressed primal instincts and they want what is advertised. This is a classic case of snake oil and flashing lights, and he is the indicator of how quickly sickness can spread. My hope is that love is the medicine. But the medicine makers need to shape up. Spiritual bypassing and isolated communities were a big reason why this reality has come to fruition. We need to work together and integrate. Us vs. Them only works for the puppet masters and it’s time to cut the strings.
Your music is very spiritual. How do you tap into that side of yourself to create? I’m wondering if it’s one of those things where you feel like you’ve tapped into the universal collective unconscious when you write, or if you are more deliberate about choosing each word and note?
I’ve been in a love affair with the creator since I can remember. I express what comes to me naturally, There’s so much raw passion inside of me. I’m just now refining it and learning to be deliberate. I’ve spent my whole life learning to listen, it’s an ongoing journey but a beautiful one and I encourage everyone to seek wildly the giver of all good things.
You’ve been to Pyro before. Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to about this year? What brings you back? Is it special to you for any reason?
Pyro is an amazing catalyst. Where else can you see Rising Appalachia, Trevor Hall, and Nahko in the same weekend? Very very very few festivals can do what Pyro does. Joseph is one of the best promoters in the scene and I wish more people had is goodwill, his faith, and his vision. I love it, I love him, and I love this festival.
Tell us about your new music.
Right now I’ve got a new song out called “Welcome to the North” and it’s available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all the other places people stream music. My next track is out in June as well. There’s a running theme between my next 4 songs but I don’t wanna give away the surprise.
More information on Dustin is available at lovedustinthomas.com
His songs are available for streaming at https://open.spotify.com/
Tickets to the festival, held in Garrettsville, Ohio, as well as more information on Pyro, are available at www.pyrodemayo.com. Pre-sale is $120, and includes camping, and at the gate is $160. Day passes are also available.