Rising Appalachia Winter Solstice Celebration & Permaculture Action Day 12.16.16
Words & Photos By Julie Hutchins (Tipping Point Designs)
Athens, GA natives, Hope For Agoldensummer opened up the night with a soft, living room style listening party. Sisters of folk, Claire and Page Campbell, sat comfortably with their acoustic instruments and sang stories of water, fertility, social justice and pure silliness. Their angelic harmonies blend uniquely with their provocative and uncanny lyrics. Next, MC Theresa returned with a resounding poem about 2016’s notable police killings. Moments after her spine chilling delivery, Dustin Thomas was announced to the stage! Dustin walked to the microphone with only a guitar in hand. He humbly began a simple 3 chord sing-along. Then out of nowhere, the beat dropped and he started rapidly beat boxing in between syncopated guitar riffs. His colorful songs share tales of wanderlust, exploitation of the natural world, and most importantly - hope. His voice bellows deep and reaches soulful peaks. I particularly admired his controversial stories and exuberant smile.
In between songs and tuning Leah likes to tell stories. Apparently, Rising Appalachia received their first crowd-surfer ever in Asheville. She introduced the next song, “Filthy, Dirty South” as an Appalachia rager and invited her parents to crowd surf. An iconic R.I.S.E tune, the crowd sang along again, “so there's oil comin out your mouth, / and you can shut it off you can close it down, / yes I love my filthy dirty south / so we are all led like lambs to the slaughter / while big business muddies our water / please dont sit back sit back in awe.” A R.I.S.E. anthem for the South, the booming bass took over for a lovely dance between sisters and the song finished with diminutive Jazz pizzazz.
Continuing to honor their roots Leah and Chloe fused “Wider Circles” and “Open the Window, Let the Dove Fly In” an old tune dedicated to childhood vocal coach, Elise White. The peaceful psalm transitioned flawlessly into a groovy and triumphant “Wider Circles.” Rising with energy again, Dustin Thomas emerged for an extremely sultry “Swoon” revamped with his signature earthy beat box. The afro-beat remix tango’d well with the saucy, Latin vibes and activated the lower chakras. The quartet finished with a heavy dose of “Medicine” mashed with the monastically soulful “Kaminando.” The crowd endlessly chanted for more, and R.I.S.E returned to the stage for a dexterous Biko drum solo and traditional Appalachia Bluegrass song, “Cumberland Gap.” Feet stomped, hearts exploded, and showered the atmosphere with passion and peace.
There are rare, sweet moments of silence in between when the music stops and the crowd roars with applause. R.I.S.E characteristically evokes these moments with their open hearts and mindful focus. Backstage accomplishments are completely contingent on the people who place their bodies in front of the stage and R.I.S.E constantly honors that truth. Leah and Chloe always take time out of our preforming to share stories and convey gratitude and unity to their followers. They are part of the few musicians who actually practice what they preach on and off stage. I respect their intentions to bridge gaps and organize activism beyond attending their performance. Throughout the night, R.I.S.E. dutifully encouraged their Permaculture Day of Action and it was inevitably a success.
Setlist: All Fence and No Doors, Lean In, Novels of Acquaintance, Occupy, I’ll Fly Away, Filthy Dirty South, Refugees*, Bright Morning Stars+, Open the Window and Let the Doves Fly in/Wider Circles, Swoon@, Downtown
* w/ spoken word by Theresa Davis
+ w/ Mom
@ w/ Dustin Thomas
Day of Action 12.17.16:
On the following, balmy Saturday morning, dozens of volunteers began helping early and stayed well into the late afternoon. Whether it was digging new plant beds, spreading mulch, planting seeds, preparing yummy foods, or sharing stories; everyone contributed. All around me, I could hear musings of sustainability practices for the future and greetings of good tidings. One kind fellow introduced me to the idea of using cars as mobile greenhouses. Leah, Chloe, Biko, David, and their crew were all present. Opening ceremonies began at 3 pm with a circle of appreciation and love for all involved and a rousing “An Invitation,” a capella of course.
Julie's Photo Gallery