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8 Things We Are Looking Forward to at ARISE

DSC_5635Last August, BandWagon Magazine made the voyage to the ARISE music festival, located in Loveland, Colorado. It’s first year as a festival it had a few growing pains, but ultimately it provided the perfect opportunity for Northern Colorado to see what the festi scene is all about. We arrived at Sunrise Ranch to the kind of beauty that only the arid climate of the area could offer. cliffs colored in orange gradient loomed over what would soon be a circus of artist, yogis, environmentalists and music lovers dancing their way into the Colorado moonlight. Here are some things we can’t wait to experience again this year.

1. Intimate Setting

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Believe it or not, those three night runs at Red Rocks are sure to be topped for even the most avid show goer as ARISE is snuggled nicely in the valley at Sunrise Ranch. The perfect weather, the laid back crowds, the one-on-one time with your favorite musicians; it really doesn’t get much better. Sunrise Ranch itself is a Spiritual Intentional Community, so the staff exudes the chilliest vibes possible. There is no hurry at ARISE, everything you have planned that day will work itself out, just go with the flow.

2. All the Weird Art

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Wandering around ARISE is an experience in and of itself. From the strategically placed art pavilions to the live artist creating magic right in front of your eyes ARISE is a visual experience as much as it is a sonic one. Trippy, mesmerizing, colorful, mind opening; everything you take in is purposely set up to add to your festival experience. The best part though… getting to view art, or the creation of art all while jamming to the sounds of the nearest stage.

3. The Variety of Stages

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Find what ever vibes get you moving at the Eagle stage, Souls Rising stage, Be well Pheonix stage, StarWater stage, Crown Chakra Yoga Temple, or at the Sunrise Dome.
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ARISE is very aware of its diverse audience and has mirrored this crazy crowd with equally as dynamic stage genres. In the day time, bluegrass, jam bands and indie rock groups fill the venue at the main stage. last year, Nahko and Medicine for the people raged during sunset bringing the sweaty afternoon to a high energy party that was a non stop build with various acts till sunrise. A walk through the EDM stage at night is more like a circus adventure and this year it will feature local and international class acts like the Polish Ambassador, Unlimited Aspect, and Krooked Driver to get started.

4. The Message

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The most important thing about ARISE is it’s message and the multifaceted way ARISE demonstrates it. ARISE is truly unique in the fact that the community is unified through its effort to honor mother Earth, and the people inhabiting it. The overall love for all things living is tangible throughout every aspect of the festival. The opening ceremony last year gave our writers chills as “AHO” was bellowed out of a 100 plus people mouths as a Native American religious elder performed a ritual prayer blessing our time at ARISE. “Aho” is typically a greeting, or a term of agreement used in the Lakota tribe. The term is used similarly to the phrase “Namaste.” “Aho Mitakuye Oyasin” broadly means we are all related, we honor each other and the resources that give us life. This resounding reverence for people and earth are mimicked by activists, environmentally friendly artists, and culturally conscious performers who all share a similar passion for peace on earth and with the earth.

5. The People

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If you want to see Colorado’s true colors ARISE is where you find it. A festival full of yogi’s, belly dancers, dead heads, EDMers, artists, activists, and Colorado freaks… the view is always beautiful, colorful and sure to keep you entertained. Last year we camped by an infamous yogi with an alternate ego named “Plastic Girl 101”, on a mission to save the universe, and out to have one hell of a good time. Let’s just say you are sure to make several good friends with a healthy dose of weird on this adventure.

6. Camping

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Sunrise ranch is beautiful from every angle and you really can’t go wrong with General admission camping right in the mix of the fest. Plus, what is a festival without picking dry sweat and glitter out of your dust encrusted clothes and ratty hair on the ride home on day 3? If you’re more accustomed to AC during the hot August days, ARISE offers Show Sherpa, otherwise known as the “tent hotel” allows those of you flying to leave you camping gear at home. New this year just , pack your hippest outfit, and best dancing shoes and arrive while all other accommodations are taken care of, including daily coffee to help last nights party wear off in the morning. Car camping is also an option, as is West Side camping which sits among the few trees you will find. Trust me.. you will want all the shade you can get!

7. The Yoga

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ARISE is unique in the fact that free yoga from world class instructors is offered throughout the whole festival. The yoga component is as important to the festival as the music, and it shows. The yoga tent is a beautiful large area draped with prayer flags and adorned with its best accessory, fans! Along with a yoga tent, healing tents are offered up in which alternate healers from around Colorado are there to show you the light.

8. The Music

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This year’s lineup is killer. There is literally something for everyone. Beats Antique is the main crowd summoner, and having seen them before, I can tell you with confidence that Zoe is a goddess on stage mesmerizing crowds with extreme belly dancing and enthusiastic drumming. Quixotic, a dance performance group out of Kansas City, MO is right up there on the list of shows to see. Their claim to fame is extreme gymnastics and acrobatic moves often done while wearing flaming costumes all to the sounds original music. The experience is indescribable. Galactic, Groundation, Polish Ambassador, Grateful Grass featuring  Keller Williams and Bill Nershi, Good Gravy, Bonfire Dub, and Gipsy Moon are just a few shows that we’re looking forward to.

Photos by: Kendra Hamman & Rachel Waltman

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Album Review: Fucked Up – Glass Boys

COOL_STORY_BRO_web_first_.jpgRight from the start it’s abundantly clear the new album by Canadiancore band Fucked Up is all about the coming of age and facing one’s youth versus one’s inevitably growing older.

The first track on the album, which is officially released June 3rd on Matador Records, is “Echo Boomer.” It hesitates just for a moment, with the band’s almost-mellow punk riffs before throwing us right into the clusterfuck that is Damian Abraham’s vocal stylings. He says, “I used to sing / That sound won’t die like me / Those old songs stay with me.”

Glass Boys is a follow up to 2011’s David Comes to Life, which saw the band’s first ranking on the billboards and created a big name for them. The album was conceptual and followed a light bulb factory worker that falls in love with an activist, who is killed by a bomb they build to blow up the factory. And while concept albums often feel forced, the band’s raw energy and the musical talent really pulled it into the foreground. This latest release is very similar, despite not being an official concept album though the “getting older” theme threads it together.

The message is clear in most of the songs, that they’re talking about growing up in a Fucked Up world. From the song “Sun Glass”: “When we turn away the kids just aren’t the same / New ways to vibrate / I can’t hear it / I can’t relate / I can’t change again / Sacred young.”

glassAs always, Fucked Up blends their almost post-punk riffs and spunky drums, which are misleadingly peppy, with Abraham’s intense screaming of often dark, very anti-establishmentarian ideologies. The album’s lyrics are filled with symbolism, nothing too profound, but it’s a refreshing step away from the painfully obvious content most hardcore bands are pumping out these days.

“Warm Change,” one of the album’s singles, has a more traditional punk sound to it, without stepping too far out of their comfort zones. It’s clear they’ve simplified their sound, making it more approachable. The guitar solo in the song, while still blazing hot, maintains the attitude established in the punk mentality: keep it simple, stupid.

Other notable songs: “Paper the House,” where he says bitterly, “The way I make my living has driven me insane / It’s a 21st Century irony, where everything you hoped for in life fills you with anxiety;” the track “Led By Hand” starts out fast and stays hard through the entire trip, making it a definite standout (not to mention J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. leaves his mark here); and the title track, which ends the album with this colorful sentimentality: “I wish I could go back / Glass boy / I’m afraid to grow up / And fuck my life up,” pretty much summing up the journey they went on to forge “Glass Boys.”

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Greeley Stampede Spotlight – Martina McBride

1308099161.08963.13062629823602MartinaMcBrideAmong the many faces of country music, Martina McBride leads in an industry of widely known female voices. With a long standing career in the music world her ability to create songs full of meaning is something to be recognized and has been noted professionally in her awards as Female Vocalist of the Year and specifically Country Music’s Top Female Vocalist. With 11 studio albums this singer has plenty to say and a range of sound that evolves through the decades. More than 2/3rds of her albums have received gold certifications with over 14 million records sold in the US. McBride’s firm position in the history of country music continues with a mutual foundation between her the dedicated fans that inspire her, something that doesn’t seem to be fading away.

McBride’s charity began in the focus of the education and dedication to female independence, sponsoring programs and hotlines against domestic violence. Following a common recipe for raw and painful country lyrics McBride’s second album took a stance in speaking out against domestic violence. Her involvement in the peace among humanity really shows in her current work. This country singer takes her responsibility as a role model very seriously and looks to lend her hand back to the loyal fans that guided her career to what it is today. In 2010 McBride created her own organization that would work to help a range of different people, not just young women. Raising money for cancer, providing clothes to those in need, and donating attention to shelters and retirement homes are just some of the tasks that Team Martina volunteer their time in doing. As a woman seasoned in the industry, McBride definitely believes that we can “make the world a better place through the healing power of music.”

 

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Greeley Stampede Spotlight – Big and Rich

Big-and-Rich-Approved-Photo-NEWQuite possibly the most ostentatious music duo to come out of the country music scene in decades, John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin first hit it big in 2004 with their debut album Horse of a Different Color; the song the general public knows them for was the album’s number two single, “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.” Since then, the duo has helped shine the spotlight on the likes of singer Gretchen Wilson and hick-hop rapper Cowboy Troy (who will be playing alongside Big & Rich and Dallas Smith at the Stampede) while putting out four other albums and taking some time off to work on their own solo projects.

Rich came from a country background, being one of the founding members of the band that would become Lonestar, while Alphin made his own rock album titled Live a Little in 1999 and fronted a rock band called luvjOi. The two met in a club around 1998 and began to collaborate as songwriters. Years later, after performing background vocals on a Martina McBride song they wrote, it was suggested that the pair record as a duo. As of 2014, Big & Rich will be releasing their next album, Gravity, sometime this summer.

 

You can catch the action on July 5th of the Greeley Stampede.

 

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Fuck Being Anything Else But Crazy

techn9nexxlmag-400x285During the making of 2009’s K.O.D. (King of Darkness), Tech N9ne was going through a very emotional time. The Kansas City, Missouri-based emcee (real name Aaron Yates) was at risk of losing his mother to pancreatitis and things were looking grim. All this was happening during a fulfilling career he began when he was barely breaking out of his teens. Since then, he’s become one of the most successful independent artists in music history. Clearly the atypical rapper, he deals in fallen angels and atheism, which alone sets him worlds apart from most other MCs. He has a style that absolutely murders the competition; speedy raps that combine wicked, tricky wordplay with melodic hooks, an on stage presence that involves tribal face paint, a straight jacket and blood red hair, making him one of the most unique figures in the game. With a career spanning over two decades, including fourteen studio albums and over two million independent sales, he’s no slacker either. After becoming increasingly frustrated with major labels, Tech launched his own imprint, Strange Music, Inc. in 1999 with his manager.

“I’ve been dicked around so many times by major labels,” Tech explains. “I’ve been through a lot of major label deals, and nobody could do what I wanted. So I figured who better to do you then you? I started the label with my manager, Travis O‘Guin. We can do it better than anybody even without video or radio. If I had all that shit backing me up, I would still be number one with my face painted and everything. Call me a weirdo. I love it.”

While the commercial successes of 2008’s Killer and 2009’s Sickology 101 put Tech N9ne’s record sales well over the one million mark, the aforementioned album, K.O.D. (King of Darkness), impacted him in ways he could not predict. The ominous content that envelops the bulk of his catalog has always been a staple in his music, but during the recording of K.O.D, he was fighting some personal demons that hit a little too close to home. It nearly destroyed him in the process.

“I have a few songs on there about my mom being sick,” he notes. “It’s also about me questioning God. That album was different, because on past releases, I only had sections of darkness. K.O.D. is completely dark. I had no idea that all the negative energy would affect me the way it did. I vowed never to do another album like that again. I made a mistake. I thought I could enjoy it, but it really brought me down.

“It’s beautiful music,” he continues, “but the negative energy had me sulking. It had me falling out with everybody around me. I was deep in my hole. That’s what the clown is for: It helps me hide. Behind that, there’s a lot of pain. I hid it really well.”

Despite his challenges, Tech has emerged strong than ever. His new album, Strangeulation, just hit the shelves and he’s amidst a massive nationwide tour. Strange Music is also growing in ways he didn’t even imagine.

“I’ve been growing as you can see,” he says. “I’m not talking about getting fatter because I’m losing weight on this tour. I mean growing as an artist since we talked. It’s such a blessing. We have the rest of the world to infest. It’s a blessing to even have fans. I know what it’s like not to have any. I’m just really in love with music, man. Even if I’m tired, if I hear a dope beat, I have to rap to it or I have to sing to it. I just feel the music. The fact people want to spend their hard earned money to come to my shows and buy my CDs and my artists’ CDs is such a blessing. That’s motivation enough to keep me going every day. New fans come in and I’m showing the older fans that I’m still here and not going anywhere.”

“We have to build on to the headquarters now,” he adds. “Not to mention, we just bought another building on the next block, which is a 4 million dollar project called Strange Land Studios. Now we have to add on to the headquarters, the one we’ve always had. It’s humungous. We have to add on ten more offices spaces so we’re going to build another building on to it. So we’re steadily expanding. It’s crazy.”

With the revolving door of rappers that make up contemporary hip-hop, Tech N9ne’s longevity is a testament to his relentless work ethic. He makes no apologies for who he is, what he does or what he raps about. Being real is what comes naturally.

“My music is me being inside out,” he points out. “It’s me not holding anything back. It’s me not having a defense mechanism. People call me a devil worshiper. Fuck them for not coming to my shows. They are missing one of the best rappers alive. I have no sympathy for them. I try to get people to my shows that hate on me. A lot of black people hate on me because I’m different. People don’t like what they don’t understand, so they try to destroy it. At first they’re like, ‘Eww, I don’t like him.’ Then they listen to me, then they’re like, ‘Wait this guy is good.’ Don’t judge a book by a cover and fuck being anything else but crazy.”

 

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Ceschi’s First Taste of Freedom

ceschiFake Four, Inc., a small independent record label in New Haven, Connecticut, has far surpassed the expectations of its founders, brothers Ceschi and David Ramos. Established in 2008, it was born out of a mutual passion for music and grown by the love and support of its fans. As Fake Four was gathering momentum, putting out album after album and touring the world, Ceschi Ramos found himself in a terrible predicament, one even Hollywood couldn’t make up.

On September 4, 2013, Ceschi Ramos started an 18-month prison sentence stemming from a controversial marijuana charge. David Ramos, who consequently took charge of the record label, described the situation: “After our family was threatened and Ceschi was forced to give a coached statement to police in 2010, he ended up going to court for years. In the end, he has taken a reasonable plea bargain compared to the 5-7 years he was facing.” The stability of Fake Four was threatened by Ceschi’s situation and the exorbitant amount of debt that had been accumulated due to legal fees so they started an Indiegogo campaign. The inordinate amount of support was nothing less than incredible. It helped Fake Four stay afloat while Ceschi was away. Fortunately, he was released shortly before Christmas, but he was a changed man. In some ways, it was a humbling experience, but in others, it was the most devastating thing he’s ever gone through.

Nonetheless, he came back to a label still brimming with hope and an endless amount of people who support him. Currently, Fake Four boasts a colorful roster consisting of artists like Awol One (The Shapeshifters), Myka 9 (Freestyle Fellowship), Astronautalis, Sole and the Skyrider Band, Grayskul, and of course David and Ceschi Ramos.

131980440_640BW: Your absence was obviously felt by not only me, but also a lot of people in the music community. How did it feel to have so much outside support?

Ceschi Ramos: It was unbelievable, really. I could have never guessed that so many people would care so much. Fake Four is a small independent label operating in a post-label era. We’re mainly about building a community and I was always aware that a small community existed, but I honestly didn’t think it had that much reach. When I first put up the Indiegogo campaign to try and save the label, it was nerve wracking for me. It’s just not the type of thing I would normally do, but it was a completely necessary last resort. It went far beyond my expectations though. The letters and books I received from supporters and friends were amazing, as well. It just felt good to know that I made an impact on a community like that.

When this whole situation went down, what was the scariest part for you?

Aside from having 10 guns pointed at my head and having my mother, brother and 98-year-old grandfather threatened by aggressive asshole cops, the scariest or most difficult part for me was having to leave my life behind. I have a lot of responsibilities out here in the regular world and it was just really stressful having to prepare to leave that behind me. My grandfather is 101-years-old now and my brother does an incredible job helping him out every day, but it really scared me to leave him behind for that time. Also, my girlfriend Amber moved from Texas to be with me and doesn’t have many people aside from me here in Connecticut, it upset me that she’d have to be without me for so long. The actual part of going to prison didn’t bother me all that much. I’m pretty accustomed to inconvenient living situations.

How was Fake Four, Inc. able to function without you?

Fake Four has a small core group of workers. Jeep Ward is our acting label manager, Tom Filepp handles our web site, Dave Mails does our shipping.  When I left, my brother David ended up taking on a bulk of my label responsibilities and spearheaded our Indiegogo campaign. Financially we wouldn’t have been able to continue without the Indiegogo campaign – that’s the only reason we were able to release albums by Grayskul, Blue Sky Black Death and Louis Logic in 2013. By the time I got out of prison, that money was mostly all spent BUT we had survived.

How did that experience change you?

Prison definitely changed me. There’s just something about having all of that time to think alone in an uncomfortable living situation surrounded by strangers. There’s a level of respect that you learn by living in a place like that. You have to respect one another to survive. People who lack respect get checked. I also think that the experience helped me realize what was important to me. When you’re locked up, you’re not worried about the petty bullshit of social media or even a career, you’re just wondering when you’ll speak to your loved ones again and have a decent meal. It humbles a person for sure. Another major change is that it helped me focus on my own health and well being more than I ever have.

What was the first thing you did when you were given your freedom back?

Unfortunately, the first thing I did was go to the hospital. My Grandfather had been brought to the E.R. for something that ended up not being serious. I burst into tears when I saw him. Then I walked outside and ran up and down the stairs like Rocky or something. It felt stupid as hell, but it was my first taste of freedom.

At this point, do you want to forget about it and move forward? What does moving forward look like at the moment?

When I first got out of prison there were intense moments of anxiety, depression, and paranoia. Apparently, that’s pretty common for people who serve time. I was convinced that everybody in public was constantly staring at me, that cops were after me (that may still be true) and that I was useless to the world.  A counselor told me those were symptoms of PTSD. I’m happy to say that months have passed since I’ve felt that way.

As much as I want my life to move forward, I’m trying really hard not to forget what I learned in that place. I’m constantly checking myself when I start to feel like I’m falling back into the chaos of my old ways. It’s a struggle really. All I want to do is be a working musician – not critically acclaimed or buzz worthy or even all that popular. I just want to tour and make music that my small community loves and that I can be proud of. I’d like to continue to run a label that can survive and be respected. Most importantly, I want to be around my loved ones – dogs included.

Has Fake Four signed anyone new to the label? Why did they seem like a good fit and what do you look for when bringing someone new on?

Two of the newer acts we signed in 2013 were Sister Crayon and Moodie Black.  They are both groups that make unique hip-hop influenced music that is not necessarily hip-hop at all. They are both hard working groups who tour a lot and care an awful lot about what they do. Those are some of the main things we look for in an artist: a unique sound that fits well within our catalog & hard work ethic.  In 2014, it’s not possible for a small label like ours to push an artist that isn’t willing to push themselves. We’ve had instances where we’ve taken chances on artists who just don’t seem to do anything for their own careers. They just expect us to do all of the work to make them famous or something. That just doesn’t happen. Even though Fake Four has developed a sort of built in fan base of supporters, we don’t have the resources or industry power to just miraculously make a new artist into an indie superstar. When we release a project, it is more like a team effort with the artist, we all want people to hear these records so we all work together to tell people about it.

full_1336170692ceschi-burnem-photobyjosephgiustiAre you working on new music right now?

Yes. I’m in the process of finishing a new album produced by Factor. I’ve also got my hands in a couple of other projects – an acoustic split 12″ with Pat The Bunny of Ramshackle Glory and another album/collection of songs with DJ Scientist.

What are your hopes for Fake Four’s future?

My hopes for Fake Four are simple: we just want to be a self-sustaining label that stays true to our aesthetic values and philosophy. In the future, I see the label slimming down its roster and just focusing a lot more on less projects and artists. It’s been a wild ride so far, but it would be smarter for us to do less and focus on it more. Hopefully our fans will continue to have faith in what we release.

What did you miss about playing live and how does it help you deal with difficult things you go through?

I missed it a lot. Playing live is my ultimate high, my most important form of release. The first time I performed again after prison was at a tiny secret house party thing. I was just overflowing with adrenaline, playing around 20 friends or so.  Performing keeps me sane and it also helps me connect with people on a primal level. I can’t really analyze it well, but I know that I make these songs to be expressed in this format.

What can Greeley expect from this live show?

I’ll be doing a solo performance with guitar and beats, some newer material and a hodge podge of stuff from my albums The One Man Band Broke Up and They Hate Francisco False. Moodie Black will also be playing. They’re a super intense full band that does something in between noise rap and atmospheric post-rock. I’ll be performing a song with them, as well.