#festivalseason - An in-depth musical review by a Groove Rider at Shambhala.

There is no experience like Shambhala. The mountain setting, the Life-giving river, the PK Sound, the hoards of beautiful people, the ridiculous stage designs, the colours, the art...all of it combines for one of the most unique experiences any of us are likely to find on this planet. But all of this pivots on the music. The best Djs, spanning nearly every genre of dance music you can imagine, provide the soundtrack for all the ridiculousness and that soundtrack is the thing is thing that keeps me coming back year in and year out. There are many places to read about the people and the culture of Shambhala, albums of photos by people far more qualified than me documenting the bliss (Check the Shambhala FB page for a cornucopia of said photo albums). So with that, here is my overly long, in-depth look at the way I spent my musical time on the Farm this year.

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I see BOUSADA yet again. Have you seen Bousada play? You should really see Bousada.

There's an epidemic breaking out around Vancouver Island right now. An organic dance virus is sweeping around stages everywhere, taking hold of everything in its path. But this is a different kind of virus. Instead of depleting and weakening its host, the virus soaks its way into the bloodstream of its victim, filling it with spirit and moving the host to uncontrollable, soul-lifting dancing. Fuck The Walking Dead, this is The Dancing Living. Patient Zero, the source of the infection is called BOUSADA. (Just look at these groovy victims, succumbing to the infectious virus, bravely documented by Front Range Films.)

I see a lot of live music in and around Victoria. In these musical journeys it is common for me to run into a hot act over and over again often to the point of staleness. I've seen Bousada perform five times in the past few months (Including killer sets at Tall Tree and Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest) and not once have I picked up even the slightest whiff of I'm-bored-I've-seen-this-before. In fact, it's the exact opposite. Each time I see the good homie do his work, shimmying behind his gear as he builds his ridiculously smooth beats from scratch and layers his soulful vocals over top, I'm more impressed and more drawn to the infectious groove. To keep me coming back for more so often is a feat that I cannot overstate.

Seeing him at Logan's last week (Friday, July 15) was further proof that each and every time Bousada takes the stage, he's stronger than the last. From the moment he took the stage hips on the floor started moving and there was no let up for an hour straight. Right in front of the stage to the back room, it didn't seem like people really had a choice: their bodies were going to move, no matter what.

When he plays Bousada is a human energy conductor, feeding energy into the crowd, taking it back in and pushing it back through his equipment. His voice is silky and warm, singing uplifting, positive lyrics, often in a calmingly repetitive way, as if he's saying, “This is it. Here is what you need to let your mind rest.” And every once in awhile, the energy builds up so much that Bousada jumps back from his equipment and lets out a deep, visceral YAWP! It is the most gloriously human, wholly cathartic sound and by the end of the set a swath of the packed house was yelling right with him. I don't know the song titles, there aren't traditional song breaks and sometimes the music takes me to such a relaxed, trance-like state that I forget to even hear the words – it's frankly an experience that is hard to describe with words, try as I may. I've encountered nothing quite like Bousada. He's making deeply soulful, highly positive and intensely soothing music that gets into your blood and demands your dancing sacrifice. If you haven't seen Bousada, go see him - your soul will thank you for the nourishment. If you've seen him, go see him again - because, well, you know. 

#festivalseason - Memories of Shambhala, unearthed.

It's hard not get personal when I'm writing about Shambhala. It set off such a chain reaction in my life, in so many areas, that it's mark is just burned into me. It might even be annoying to read or hear about, but I don't really care. You're free to stop reading at any time. The really great thing about this is how other Shambhalovers brighten up and beam when you bring it up to them. I've made a point to ask a lot of the Djs and personalities I've interviewed in the years since my first visit to Salmo River Ranch about their memories of the festival and what it means to them. I've gathered up some of the best quotes to get you all either psyched up for the trip back Home, or get you dripping with jealousy that you won't be there this year.

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DJ Nu-Mark (Jurassic 5), on why he keeps coming back to Shambhala

I keep coming back because it seems as if I'm the only not playing electronic music? The first time I played, I thought I was at the wrong festival. I saw the line-up and was a bit freaked out because everyone was playing dub-step...Hey, remember that? Dub-step? Anyway, I enjoy playing a variety of genres – Soul, Funk, Reggae, Hip-Hop, Oldies, etc... They give me room to express myself and I rarely get the hippie chick yelling, “Hey! Can you play some Persian Anthem Trance?!”

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#festivalseason - 6 stages, 6 acts to get down to at Shambhala 2016. (And a bonus warm fuzzy feeling.)

There is no place on the planet like the Shambhala Music Festival. Each year, along the life-giving Salmo River in BC - clearly Canada's most beautiful province - thousands of people gather around the semi-permanent stages that have waited all year, to build a colourful, loving, excessively fun community for three-to-five days (Depending on how you Shambs). The setting, the people, the music...it's been the basis for an entirely new part of my life. I have forged stronger friendships with old friends there, I have met new beautiful friends that I talk to near-daily and, last but not least, it opened me up to the thrillingly diverse world of electronic music. The learning curve is steep and I wouldn't have even started the process if I hadn't stepped onto the Farm for the first time a few summers ago. So, as we prepare to return Home a mere three weeks from now, I present my first batch of must-see (that-I-will-probably-get-distracted-from-seeing) picks.

Actually, first off, let's get mushy. Remember those new friends I mentioned earlier? Well, thanks to the lovely people at the Pagoda, they were able to have the most perfect wedding, early Friday afternoon last year. The day was a Pinnacle of Life. Two giant rainbow people, bursting with love, combining their powers once and for all in the heart of the most loving place I've experienced in my short time on Earth. To you two, to everyone who was there, to everyone who stopped by camp for a dance and to everyone who makes that wondrous place go, THANK YOU. I'll stop now.

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Russ Liquid Test

(Grove – Friday, 4PM)

This is the year I spend more time in the Grove and Russ Liquid is where I'm going to start. I don't really know what this “Test” thing is all about. I don't know if the homie is testing new stuff, playing with guests or whatever else, but it really doesn't matter, because if I've learned anything over the last few years of musical digging, it's that anything that has the name RUSS LIQUID on it is going to be of some major quality. It doesn't matter if he's working with heavy-hitters like Gramatik and Opiuo or working on his own, the guy clearly knows his music and, more specifically, he knows his grooves. Armed with his incredible trumpet abilities and a seemingly unquenchable thirst for sultry, hip-winding rhythms, Russ Liquid is guaranteed to be the perfect start to your first night of ultimate partying at Shambhala this year.

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#festivalseason - "Tall Tree was *pretty* fun. I guess," he said sarcastically.

The setting of a festival is of the utmost importance. Think of all the memorable festival experiences you've had and how each festival's setting added, morphed or amplified the music in a way that you couldn't predict. Maybe you made it through the wasteland of Bonnaroo, or soothed yourself in Old Man Rivs at Shambhala, or felt the cozy community of Atmosphere Gathering or <insert your amazing festival memory here>. No matter what memory of your surroundings you have, it's probably a safe bet that you didn't wake up to this every morning. Welcome to Brown's Mountain.

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