PLANTED AT THE DANCING WU-LI

Words & Images by Jake Krolick

Dancing Wu Li Festival :: 05.19 & 05.20 :: Snipes Farm :: Morrisville, PA


Dancing Wu Li Festival
Giovanni LaRosa and Paul Leitner have been Philadelphia's artistic gardeners for years; promoting live music, dance, film and art at the venues around Philadelphia. Over the years many late night planting sessions led the green thumbs to discussions of throwing their own festival. Where to plant the seeds was a constant question. They had studied festival harvests from Bonnaroo to Berkfest to figure out what conditions would work best for their launch into the festi-mix. Plans came to fruition on the weekend of May 19th and 20th with a bountiful offering at the foot of the Delaware Valley. The Dancing Wu Li Festival at Snipes Farm in Morrisville, PA was a success! Situated about one hour from Philadelphia and New York, the festival created a unique experience of both sound and nature for both artists and fans.

I've known Giovanni and Paul for a number of years, so I wanted to do something different for their fest. This piece is a series of questions proposed to the majority of the performers. This is NOT a review, but merely a ride along on my shoulder for a series of interviews. The interviews are in the order of the performers' stage times and were conducted after each performer played. Join me as I witness the planting of the Dancing Wu Li Festival.

FRIDAY, MAY 19

7:45 p.m. - The campgrounds are located in a sprawling field in the southern corner of Snipes Farm. It is a six-minute walk from most tents to the main stage. The trek leads you over a small stream through some dense green underbrush and out into the main stage area. I was joined back stage by an excited Mike Oxman and Supreem.

Simple and Supreem


Supreem :: Wu Li
Q: What do you think makes a festival a success?

A: Great bands, party people that are willing to party, get down and dirty, and let their hair down. That vibe that leaps up off the crowd, jumps on stage, and flies back and forth from the performers to the crowd.

Q: Is there a favorite personal experience you can share from attending festivals?

A: Everyone pulling up their shirt and flashing and making their chests bounce and jiggle.

Q: Do you feel that sound vibration and resonance in music help human evolution?

A: Somehow this music makes people come together. There doesn't have to be a cause for everyone to know what the cause is. I feel like it affects each of us in our own individual ways, some in more spiritual ways. I saw a show a few years ago that relaxed me in a way that I was unable to relax before. It definitely affects the way you walk and talk and if you are a musician, the approach you take to playing music. I feel like you can go deeper – that you can open up different thought patterns and ideas by the wavelengths being put out in the music. You can tune into what the musician is trying to project through the music.

Q: Favorite summer-time treat?

A: Water ice or Flavor ice. Flavor ice is the Ramen of dessert.

The evening went on with a special masked dance performance from Archedream. Then a late night session at the enticing barn stage featuring a match-up of part Pnuma Trio minus keyboardist Ben Hazlegrove, RAQ's Chris Michetti and Todd Stoops, and their touring companion Ryan Burnett (Signal Path) for two hours of Wu-Li improvisation.

SATURDAY, MAY 19

1:45 P.M. – The neighbors were restless all night, and the field was set a blaze with drums and raucous. The coffee had worn off and a new feeling had kicked in for a chat with Ben Yurco and Adam King, Vermont's Turkey Bouillon Mafia.

TURKEY BOULLION MAFIA

Q: What do you think makes a festival a success?


Turkey Bouillon Mafia :: Wu Li
A: Relaxed security, lots of sunshine, mind-melting and quality musical mix.

Q: Is there a personal experience you can share from attending festivals?

A: Here is when you know you are really in the festival mix. It was three in the morning, and there was a huge drum circle at the Vibes in 2000. I was there watching as this dude who was well into something jumped into the circle buck naked and started dancing. We all knew immediately that he really needed to be dancing, and dancing was about the only thing keeping him connected to the ground. On the far side of the drum circle was another kid who was also equally as lit, and you could tell that he needed to be playing drums at that very moment. The naked dancing dude worked his dance over to this kid and had his ass right in the kid's face dancing away. This poor kid had a look of wanting to get away, but he's so lit up he just has to play his drum. We stood there for a good half-hour just watching this drum kid shake, thinking, "Yeah, this is a good weekend."

Q: Do you feel that sound vibration and resonance in music help human evolution?

A: Read the book The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life.

Q: Favorite summer-time treat?

A: Creamies – aka soft serve – definitely the swirl, but they don't do the dip up in Vermont.

3:20 p.m. - At this point, The Turkey B Mafia and I were booted from the green room for passing the peace pipe a little too heavily. Tim Palmieri from the Breakfast joined me for a few minutes before he was off to watch Stanton Moore.

TIM PALMIERE OF THE BREAKFAST

Q: What do you think makes a festival a success?


The Breakfast :: Wu Li
A: A good name, a good location, good organization, and the right bands. Weather permits, but people can have fun in the rain so it doesn't matter as much.

Q: Is there a favorite personal experience you can share from attending festivals?

A: MMW at High Sierra, the first Bonnaroo - Bucket of Bernie Brains was really cool or watching Norah Jones with only 300 people there was cool too. Anything Zappa-related that I've attended has also been super cool.

Q: Do you feel that sound vibration and resonance in music help human evolution?

A: Yes we are definitely sensitive beings, sensitive to all different stimuli whether it is visual or audio. Certain music has been studied, like classical, that helps people think better. So yes, I think it's possible that sound can bring us to the next step.

Q: Favorite summer-time treat?

A: Libby's in CT makes a killer Italian ice.

5:20 p.m. - Stanton Moore's set was a fiery furnace – after he had played he had this to say on the state of festivals, music, and Spumoni.

STANTON MOORE


Stanton Moore :: Wu Li
Q: What do you think makes a festival a success?

A: Obviously good music, but what makes it really successful is the energy between the artists and the audience. When the artists and audience are well taken care of, everyone benefits. Jazz Fest or the first Bonnaroo or Coachella all come to mind.

Q: Is there a favorite personal experience you can share from attending festivals?

A: Last year's Jazz Fest Meters show was so incredible. It was special because they hadn't played together in New Orleans in a long time. I was on the side stage with two great musicians, Raymond Webber and Jeffrey Alexander, and was flipping out.

Q: Do you feel that sound vibration and resonance in music help human evolution?

A: I don't know about frequencies but energy wise, I get really disheartened by the crappy music on the radio that's over-produced and over-sterilized. It has no soul and is not art. Listening to good music in turn makes you more aware. Some of the more aware and intelligent people produce some better music.

Q: Favorite summer-time treat?

A: Snowballs or Spumoni. I'm from New Orleans, and unfortunately a great Spumoni place in New Orleans got flooded out called Angelo Brocato. They had some killer Spumoni. Hopefully they will come back because Angelo Brocato, that's the spot.

7:15 p.m. - The highlight of my musical weekend was an incredible version of "Panama" laid down with spectacular bass work by Reed Mathis and some musical styling from Steve Kimock, his son John Morgan, and a laid-back Jerry Joseph.

REED MATHIS

Q: What do you think makes a festival a success?


Reed Mathis :: Wu Li
A: Woodstock was a successful festival, but it lost tons of money so there are different versions of success. There is one that makes money and one that is a rad scene, and once and a while, there is both. High Sierra seems to do well and they come out on top. A good location, good weather, and a great wide range of bands. Personally, I like when I can see the Black Crowes and then Bill Frisell and Bela Fleck into Claypool. What brings me down is seeing a lot of young kids way drugged out.

Q: Is there a favorite personal experience you can share from attending festivals?

A: I've never gone to a festival unless I was playing. I'm from Oklahoma and graduated high school in 1995 and started touring. All of my musical experiences have been gigging experiences. Berkfest 2002 was incredible as a performer, the Creekside Festival in 2002 had The Slip putting on a hell of a show.

Q: Do you feel that sound vibration and resonance in music help human evolution?

A: I think the intention of the musicians can help evolution. You can't say that John Coltrane or the Grateful Dead didn't bring about some evolution with their intention. Where they were coming from has definitely changed a lot of lives. Where these musicians are coming from with the intention is what moves you. Maybe more so, what they play is a result of where they are coming from. The two highest things music can accomplish are to bring about the sprit of the listener and to present them with some good times in the present moment. If you're an experienced artist, then you're lucky if you can help an audience to grow from experiencing your shitte.

Q: Favorite summer-time treat?

A: Can I say psilocybin? Lemonade made with real lemons and no corn syrup.

STEVE KIMOCK

Q: What do you think makes a festival a success?


Steve Kimock & Jerry Joseph :: Wu Li
A: Being able to interact with the other musicians that I know. Since we're all working all the time, it's a chance to interact and that's what makes it fun.

Q: Is there a favorite personal experience you can share from attending festivals?

A: For some reason I don't remember much from the days that I was just attending – I wonder why that could be. Me and my son John Morgan were lucky enough to attend and perform at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, and having the cheesy scrambled egg breakfast in the cafeteria with Steve Winwood was pretty memorable.

Q: Do you feel that sound vibration and resonance in music help human evolution?

A: As a species we probably have a pretty heightened sense of sound because we evolved from people who couldn't figure out that there was danger behind them. Music has evolved as a super speech, a further communication beyond speech. If a frequency is in an audio range, it has to be giving you a certain amount of information.

Q: Favorite summer-time Treat?

A: Fresh tomatoes from my garden are the best. The tomatoes right off the vine are great!

9:40 P.M. - It was a wonderful progression of performances. Keller Williams had taken a lazy afternoon crowd and worked them round and round the proverbial maypole until they were dizzy with delight for the headlining Blues Traveler.

KELLER WILLIAMS

Q: What do you think makes a festival a success?


Keller Williams & Steve Kimock :: Wu Li
A: There are different aspects to success. A successful festival is one that has many different kinds of music. It is a festival that has police on the outside of the gates waiting to enter, but only if they are needed for emergency use. That's from my festivarian stand point. You can't just judge the success from that. From a business angle, there needs to be ticket sales. You can't expect to hold a festival for the first time and expect it to be perfect. If people don't come and buy tickets, then no festival next year, but in my mind, it's all about the music and lack of police.

Q: Is there a favorite personal experience you can share from attending festivals?

A: The word festivarian joined my vocabulary by attending the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I attended Telluride for about five years before I started playing tweeners at it. During the daytime I'd sit in my chair and relax to bluegrass, then at night the daytime "NPR folks" would just escape back to their little condos and the freaks would come out. Saturday nights at T-ride would open up all this room for the great string musicians to jam, and all the Colorado freaks would run wild in the park getting down.

Q: Do you feel that sound vibration and resonance in music help human evolution?

A: Yes. I think the low end in the bass register and the percussion perhaps speak more to us on other levels. It's a tough question.

Q: Favorite summer-time treat?

A: I like popsicles all year round and snowcones. I'd like a treat in each hand.

Blues Traveler's publicist was in the middle of explaining why the interview with Chan and John was going to have to be rescheduled when her walkie popped to life and a call to bring us over to the tour bus was given. The bus was filled with parents of both Chan Kinchla and John Popper. The five-minute interview took place as a round-table discussion with the parents adding their two cents as they saw fit. It felt like a fitting end to the line of questions asked. Popper's heavy influence is felt on festivals today because of the paths Blues Traveler and H.O.R.D.E. had taken years before.

CHAN KINCHLA, JOHN POPPER & THEIR PARENTS

Q: What do you think makes a festival a success?


Kinchla & Popper - Blues Traveler :: Wu Li
Chan: Redundancy, do it every year. Repeat business and lots of nitrous tanks.

Q: Is there a favorite personal experience you can share from attending festivals?

Chan: When we first moved to New York in 1987, it was the heyday of the Grateful Dead's ten-day stands at Madison Square Garden. The scene would surround the Garden for ten days, and all the shops would cough up kind veggie burritos. In any case this was when nitrous was not as popular; back then it was really on the edge. We met a genius drug dealer and started selling nitrous in the parking lot near Madison Square Garden. I would sell nitrous balloons and come out of the parking garage with ten balloons in my fingers. And in five minutes they would be gone. That's how we supported ourselves because we were not making any money as a band.

John: Actually when you do nitrous, you don't support yourself because you fall over. We did a lot of nitrous...


Wu Li
Chan's mom: This falls into the category of things I'd rather not hear.

John: Then we would go into the show to wrap up the festival. Don't get us started on our acid days... Since the parents are here, you should ask Chan about his sexual experiences next.

Q: Do you feel that sound vibration and resonance in music help human evolution?

Chan: Music for me is one of the last magics left. It is one of those things that touches people in a modern society in a non-visual way. Music touches people in ways that they don't know why they like it or why they are excited by it – it's not quantifiable. It is part of human evolution. It is part of the magic.

John: Human ears will become numb to louder and louder frequencies. Ultimately, we are all going to go deaf. The new headphones are more evasive and project the sound deeper and deeper into my ears. My ears are ringing every night.

Q: Favorite summer-time treat?

Chan: Red Rocks 4th of July.

John: Grape Kool-Aid.

The fall soiree is planned for October 6th and 7th. This was a wonderful beginning to what many hope will be an annual event. Until harvesting in the fall, enjoy all your summer growing at the festivals and live music experiences around the world.

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[Published on: 6/2/06]

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Comments

Taossss Sat 6/3/2006 07:36AM
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Taossss

goood q and a. Wu Li was fuckin off the chainn. latenight RAQuma was the shit! id highly recomend the fall jawn. good time.

thesaxophonist starstarstarstarstar Sat 6/3/2006 07:52AM
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thesaxophonist

A+ Eye balls were glued the whole time.

toestothenose Sat 6/3/2006 08:37AM
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toestothenose

For more Wu-Li pictures visit - http://www.dancingwulifest.com/WuLi/

gozan starstarstarstarstar Sat 6/3/2006 04:03PM
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Best take on a festie review i've seen in long time!! Wu Li looks like its got wings !!!

festivalkiddo Mon 6/5/2006 10:51AM
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i live a block and a half away from this festival and i have lived here my whole life. It was so weird to be called a local because that is what im usually doing to everyone else. Overall, to have this type of experience in my backyard, total freak-out, but in a good way, straight from the heart. the band line-up was insane, and the people all took it in as if it were the last thing they were going to see. To have that type of gathering so close to home and close to the heart, no words can describe it. needless to say, i enjoyed my self quite nicely, and i hope to see everyone in the fall and next summer.

pgoodie starstarstarstarstar Wed 6/7/2006 08:42AM
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Live From Wu Li:

Keller, Kimock, etc, available now on Goodie Radio

www.goodiegoodie.com

Harvest Wu Oct 6-7, 2006

www.dancingwulifest.com

dcpruyn starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/11/2006 02:59PM
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dcpruyn

Get a copy of Gary Zukav's "Soul Stories"if you haven't read it yet. The Founder of Wu Li . Those 'in the know' know about Zukav and his Enlightening inspiration.