B. wet, Fred hot + Quinn dry

5 09 2013

ARC was closed late august, so I went swimming, Fred went to LA where the heat was all they talked about and Quinn, to everyone’s surprise,  attended Burning Man – a week-long annual festival held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.  Here’s her low-down on this low humidity event…

manBurning Man is founded on 10 principles that serve as guidelines for the community, including radical self-expression, radical self-reliance and decommodification.  Basically, this means that all attendees are expected to participate and contribute to the event in some way, without relying on commercial transactions.  There is no governing body that determines what events will take place at the festival—this is determined entirely by what participants contribute.  No provisions aside from toilet facilities are provided—everyone must bring their own water, food, shelter, and other supplies and take care of any trash or grey water they produce.  This meant that I didn’t brush my teeth or take a shower for nearly a week (unless you count my trip through the “Human Carcass Wash,” which is more of a “communal cleansing experience” rather than a proper shower).

The man

Most of my days were spent bicycling around visiting various camps and trying to drink enough water to not dry up and blow away with the playa dust.  One of the coolest things I did during the day was take an airplane ride over the encampment.

airBurning Man is set up like a clock face with streets running from 2:00 to 10:00 and avenues running in concentric circles from A-L.  Our camp was at 8:15 and A.

Nighttime is when Burning Man really comes alive.  In addition to the elaborate “mutant vehicles” (decorated cars, bikes, and buses, some of which operate as mobile parties) whizzing around, and the bars and dance parties set up in various camps, hundreds of works of art in the desert are illuminated for nighttime viewing.  Throughout the week there are various “burns” where groups light wooden structures on fire to the delight of onlookers.

pyramid dancer
Sweet pyramid on fire. 
                                        One of my favorite sculptures.

Since the ARC is a music archive, I ‘suppose’ I should talk about MUSIC.  There’s tons of it out there.  Mostly techno, which isn’t really my thing, but I did enjoy some relaxing steel drum and acoustic performances in the center camp.  Unfortunately I didn’t pick up any recordings for the archive (next time!).

arial computer
Arial performer swinging around to               Brian making some bleepy-bloopy music
Spanish guitar music.                                      with a modified television inside the man.

In all, participating in Burning Man was a wonderful experience and I am glad I spent my time away from the ARChive there.  Perhaps next year we’ll have an ARC camp with listening stations featuring highlights from our collection for fellow participants who need a break from the endless techno.  I’ll leave you with a picture of me and my partner Brian inside a…


Blue Lotus Festival in Rajasthan

29 01 2013

My trip to India was a wonderful experience and has led to a host of new friends and musical information. One stellar event that’s coming right up is The Blue Lotus Festival in Rajasthan.

This is a massive, well-organized event, featuring more than 300 talented artists from nearly every state and representing the widest range of traditional, semi-classical and Sufi musicians presented anywhere. Definitely not a tourist-hype event, but striving for authenticity. A quick look at the short video above tells you this is exciting stuff!

This event is organized by De Kulture Music. They make it pretty darn easy to have a great musical experience – a long trip to an unfamiliar place, made safe and comfortable. Click here to view the Blue Lotus Package travel package they offer .


De Kulture’s mission is to develop an Indian network of audio archives and an entertainment resource that delivers the India’s diverse cultural expressions in an entertaining and informative way via all mediums and formats possible. They represent 2000 artists from various parts of India, and have released more than 50 albums over the past seven years.

It’s worth lingering a bit in Rajasthan, a desert region with beautiful cities, sites and music. This is where they have a lot of “j”s – Jaipur, Jodhpur Jaisalmer – as well as Pushkar, most famous for it’s camel fair (Nov), and now, the Blue Lotus Festival.

Learn everyting here:



Need even more info? You can always e-mail them: info@bluelotusfestival.com

Pilgrims’ Progress

17 10 2012

I’m going the tourist route here, so music people relax please.

On the road to Jaisalmer, on the edge of the Rajasthan desert, from the moving car, the camera performed like a champ.  Here’s a group of religious pilgrims along the side of the highway, part of a line that went on for miles.

Proof you can be in two places at once: the Eifel Tower and the Taj Mahal.

One pitstop was a Desert Camp.  These cater to tourists, but even locals are skinned 100 rupees for a tea!  Ah, but the sheer beauty of the dining room…

Speaking of room – take a room that is about 12’ x 12’, pack it with 16 people, and whataya got?  A puppet show.

We got a intimate demo of carving the puppet heads, a rundown on the major characters, some face-based acrobatics (balancing on upper lip) and a manic Indian Jerry Lewis barking “one, two three” as he wowed us with some close magic.   I’m working without a net here (internet), but the puppeteers are lower cast Harijans, the ethnic group Naga, and they are represent generations of puppetmakers and manipulators. The language of the puppets is an expressive squawking produced by a boli (split wood mouth whistle) and a bell chain worn around the wrist.  Usually six strings to manipulate, fingers only, subtly and beauty assured.

Translations are sometimes pleasantly muddled, like a list of small treats on the hotel menu labeled ‘snakes,’ or the motorbike rental people suggesting you “Rant a motorbike.”  The ‘Om nan’ was less a religious experience than an omelet on bread.  Of course you don’t always need to spell it out: here’s a good luck sign (hex or yantra) being drawn on the entrance floor of Jaisalmer Fort.

Jodhpur calls itself the ‘blue city’ to draw in tourists who have already visited the ‘Pretty in Pink’ Jaipur.

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