Summers in Canada are short, and not always sweet, so most Canadians make the
best of it by getting outside and enjoying this vast, abundant country. While many
enjoy the quiet of camping in nature, plenty of us also love the experience of Music
Festivals. What better time can be had than listening to music under the stars,
dancing until dawn, jamming by campfires with old and new friends and the sense
of community that comes together so naturally?
We have been attending festivals for years, and while Ray is better known on the
electronic music circuit as a producer and performer, we now have begun to attend
a diversity of festivals, including “The Grand Dame of Folk Festivals” here in Canada,
Mariposa, which is held in Orillia, Ontario, July 3-5. Going back for our second year
as vendors, we are looking forward to experiencing new music; meeting friends
from last year and getting the opportunity to hear a wide variety of musicians try
their hand at our unique instruments. Last year, the very talented musicians who
stopped by to play The Root wowed us. We were impressed with the range of
musical styles that were represented. From Middle Eastern to bluegrass, to Celtic
folk music, each musician had The Root sounding just right for their genre. At the
same time, kids and adults without any musical training were able to enjoy the
simplicity of playing the tone box and kalimbas.
Music has the ability to cut across cultural boundaries but at the same time it can
polarize us by our tendency to gravitate towards one particular style of music.
Nowhere is this more apparent than the contrast between electronic dance music
and “organic” music played by bands, whether they be folk, rock or others styles.
Although my personal preference is to electronic and world fusion music, I have
come to see that there is much to enjoy when we step out of our comfort zone and
into a new scene. The stomping sounds of a Celtic folk band, a rocking jazz ensemble
or a soothing reggae act have all been known to get me to the dance floor. I probably
would not have experienced that had we not started taking Rootworks on the road!
Typically, I have found that opponents to electronic music festivals hold the idea
that it is a mad crazy “rave” attended only by teenagers who are high on any and
every drug imaginable. And while those festivals are around (usually very large,
corporately sponsored events), there are plenty smaller grassroots music and
wellness festivals, many which use the banner “transformational festival.” These
festivals focus on building community, offering educational alternatives to
sustainability, ecological and health concerns and lifestyle changes. Artistic
expression is highly valued; with pop-up art galleries, brilliant stage and dance floor
deco and vendors who create original and funky fashion. Although the music tends
to be electronic based, more and more promoters are considering having a few
different stages for bands and diverse styles, while electronic artists are now
bringing organic instrumentation into their performances. We have been
incorporating our instruments into our music meditation project, Thetaflo, for a
number of years and it was through a desire to bring this new level of live.
performance and unique sounds that Ray created The Root. We are hoping this
trend catches on and are definitely seeing many more acts like this.
So folks, its time to pack away the musical biases and try something new! Whether
you are a seasoned musician or a crazy trance dancer, going to a festival that has
music you are unaccustomed to listening to can free your mind, help you meet new
people and maybe even open your heart!
Festivals we will be attending this summer (so far):