Leah and Chloe Smith from Rising Appalachia

Sounds of hope and active community

MUSIC RISING by Bruce Mason

Leah and Chloe Smith from Rising Appalachia
Leah and Chloe Smith from Rising Appalachia. Look for them at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and at Atmosphere Gathering in Cumberland, BC.

• One of the most interesting, promising quotes I’ve been unable to shake this year is from Leah and Chloe Smith, two 20-something sisters who front Rising Appalachia. “We are building community and tackling social injustice through melody – making the stage reach out with octopus arms to gather a great family.”

Blending and brandishing the power of pure harmony in an eclectic mix of hip hop, soul, world-infused folk and more, they’re sharing the message of the urgent need for massive change. Their mission, as they note, is “to help the environment, change the ‘mal-distribution’ of wealth and to simply make the world better.”

Rising Appalachia has toured Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, the Indian subcontinent and the US while fiercely maintaining their autonomy and independence; they create, self-manage, record, produce and direct their own work.

Rising Appalachia touches down at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival (July 17-19) and at Atmosphere Gathering in Cumberland in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island (August 14-16). See www.atmospheregathering.com

It isn’t likely Rising Appalachia will want to leave Cumberland, the epitome of their kind of place, given the folks who have chosen gather there. It’s a funky, growing village of assorted good ol’ boys, creative entrepreneurs, herbalists, mountain bikers and young families. Like many of the village’s residents, Rising Appalachia was raised on local folk, rock and timeless lullabies, nurtured and inspired by travel and ideas – now blossoming and bearing fruit – in the international community.

Also in the lineup – handpicked to create an “exciting, multi-sensory extravaganza” –are Nahko and Medicine for the People, David Starfire, the Fort Knox Five, Kaminanda, Plantrae and Humans, alongside an impressive roster of last year’s favourites.

“The lineup reflects our commitment to nurturing local talent alongside the presentation of world-class acts,” says Vig Schulman of Cumberland Village Works, which is putting on the event with Little Island Productions. “We’ll be creating an incredibly unique and vibrant energy.” Other diverse, family-friendly attractions include local organic food, yoga, workshops, camping and a nearby glacier-fed lake.

Sound good? Well, yet another festival that caught our attention is the aptly named Blessed Coast Ceremonial Celebration in Squamish, BC (August 21 -24). This event features three days of live music, again mixed with local organic food, yoga, workshops and camping. Organizers say the event is “born from a seed of intention to nurture the emergent culture of our evolving community ecosystem [and to] showcase local art, teachings, talent, food and goods to deepen our relationship to the land, working with indigenous elders and wisdom-keepers to co-create a ceremonial space for human evolution.”

Also offered is a full schedule of yoga and workshops with a local focus, an optional locally-sourced, organic meal plan, an Open-Source Marketplace and a team of facilitators to lead children through an optional co-creative journey over the length of the festival. Visit www.blessedcoast.ca

Our Earth and her inhabitants are at a tipping point and a turning point. We invite you to witness, celebrate and participate in the events showcased in this article. We’ll have more next month.

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola-Island based five-string banjo player, gardener, freelance writer and author of Our Clinic.brucemason@shaw.ca

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