VibeWest had a chance to talk to Arise Festival promoter Paul Bassis about the upcoming inaugural gathering taking place in Loveland, Colorado next month. We spoke about the amazing venue, Pauls’ past experience as a Festival producer, and his thoughts on Transformational Festivals. Paul gave some great insight into what Arise Festival has to offer attendees, as well as the Intention of this amazing new Festival. With musical headliners like Michael Franti and Zap Mama, guest speakers like Daryl Hannah and Julia Butterfly Hill, DJ’s, performance artists, Independent Films, Yoga workshops, and so so much more, Arise not only has something for everyone, it looks like one of the best Festivals of the summer. And did we mention the venue? Wow!
VibeWest– I understand that this is the first Festival, at least of this size, to be held at this particular site. What can you tell us about the Sunrise Ranch?
PB– I can tell you that this is one of the most beautiful, central sites that i have ever seen. its just an absolutely gorgeous location for doing something like this. And also from my perspective from my background, it will be an easy execution for the operation of the festival, and an easy experience for our attendees. I used to be a producer at Reggae on the River in Northern California for many years, and that was a very challenging site. I used to say it wasn’t a site at all, it was a bend the river, and to get as many people in there as we did and to park as many people as we did in there was very difficult. It was very challenging, everything we did had to be very site specific. The Sunrise Ranch is going to be, like I said, a very easy and very possible wonderful experience for our attendees. Its just a beautiful, beautiful, spot. It’s a valley nestled between the foothills of the Rockies on one side and the Rim Rock, Red Rocks on the other. Sunrise Ranch itself has been an Organic Farm for 68 years, pesticides have never touched the soil, and it’s a sweet spot!
VibeWest– Oh well that sounds great! I do remember the Reggae on the River Festival for many years and I remember it was a challenging spot for attendees so I can imagine as a Producer that would be a difficult one to do.
PB– You attended Reggae on the River in the Past?
VibeWest– Oh yeah, I went to Reggae for about 10 years.
PB– Ahhh, love it man! That’s great to hear!
VibeWest– I love the old days man, I heard they are bringing in it back but nothing will replace the magic of those old days!
PB– That’s true, that’s true. And I’ve been gone for a number years now and I gotta tell ya, I got out of the music business after I left People Productions, which I co-founded along with Carol Bruno, who was the Founder of Reggae on the River, and when I left I got out of the business and was operating a boutique management company and booking agency for high profile environmental activists, and i’ve been doing that for a number of years. When I saw the Sunrise Ranch, that was the biggest factor in the equation for get me back into the Festival Producing business. It was that we had a spot that would really resonate with the people, that the people would want to come back to every year. It’s that kind of place, it’s just got that feel.
VibeWest– As far as size, how many people can the venue handle safely, and how many people do you expect this year?
PB– Well, there are a couple of different ways to answer that question. Our capacity is 10,000. Now the second part of that question, is how many are you going to handle comfortably. From my experience, I would say the site could handle 20,000 easily. It’s got a hundred acres. Just to put into a context, Reggae on the River was nearly that big back in the day, and that was about 17 acres. So we certainly have a lot of space, people are not going to be crowded. How many people do I think will show up for the Festival this year? I can’t really say. People tend to wait to the last few weeks before to buy their ticket so we are 4 weeks out right now, it would be hard to make any predictions about how many people will be out at the site come Festival time, but I will say this, there is gonna be plenty of space for everybody. There’s not gonna be traffic jams, we’ve got plans to operate this Festival in a way that our attendees are gonna feel like it’s well organized, very smooth, very comfortable experience.
VibeWest– What can festival goers expect in the campground area as far as space, and amenities such as showers, available drinking water and such?
PB– Well for one thing what Festival gores should expect is to always be prepared as a Festival attendee, so always bring your own shade for your camping area and kids, and be prepared with sunscreen and all those other things that make the Festival experience most comfortable for you. With regard to showers, yes we will have showers on site that we are bringing in, there portable showers so once again we have a comfortable experience for Festival goers. In terms of water, we’ve stated the point throughout our website and other marketing that being an eco conscious Festival, being who we are, we won’t have plastic water bottles for sale at the Festival. We are encouraging people to bring your own reusable water bottle. Water will be free, water will be plentiful. Potable drinking water that is. And of course we will be prepared if people forget to bring one or don’t get the word and don’t bring a reusable water bottle, they can buy a branded water bottle with the Arise Festival logo on it that will be co-branded with Eco Vessel which is a great company based right here in Boulder, Colorado as we are. And we will even have double walled, co branded stainless steel beer mugs available if people want to buy those, and when they do, of course, the first beer is free!
VibeWest– A lot of Festivals these days are offering VIP ticket options, and I see Arise is as well. What can VIP ticket holders expect as extras with their purchase?
PB– Well VIP ticket goers should expect to get spoiled rotten, that’s kind of our approach with these things. Anyone who attends the Festival is going to have a great experience, but the factors in the VIP equation that we have put together are grounded in the same kinds of VIP packages that other Festivals offer. Perhaps we take it a little bit further, but that’s sort of the nature of how we want this Festival, to take everything a little bit further. People will be blown away, that’s one thing about the Arise Festival, we came out with a first year Festival with a really large concept, and if you look at the lineup, the diversity of the lineup, the quality of the lineup, and being able to announce just last week that Michael Franti and Spearhead will be our headliner at the Festival is a really big thing for us. We feel that Michael exemplifies, in so many ways, what the Arise Festival is all about. Which of course is about great music and great groups that people love, but it’s also about more than that, and I think that Michael exemplifies that in so many ways and we are really thrilled and proud to have him as our headliner.
VibeWest– I will say the musical lineup looks amazing, as well as visual performances, film screenings, guest speakers, and so much more. Would you say this is the biggest Festival of its kind in Colorado?
PB– I don’t know about biggest, maybe it is, I don’t really measure things in that way. What I would say about this, unlike so many other Festivals in Colorado, the Arise Festival is not genre specific as most of the Festivals here are. Certainly for a camping Festival there is not another one of this size and scope. It’s not a Bluegrass Festival, it’s not a Jazz Festival, and it’s not an Electronic Music Festival, It’s a Festival that brings together different genres of music, that sync together. And we bring different communities of people together that fit together, and our belief is that people, not just in Colorado, but people everywhere seem to have diverse musical taste, and that most people don’t just subscribe to just one genre of music. What most people want is good music, and in this case we not only brought together quality music, everything fits together. But with all of our artists, when booking this Festival we very carefully put some thought into this, they are conscious artists. Their fans are conscious people. Which is one of the reasons we think this will fit together. We set out to create a Festival that has a lot of intention behind it, and so all of the programming, the speakers, the film series, the theme camps, the main stage artists and the secondary stage artists, the electronic music artists, everything is intended to be uplifting.
VibeWest– Well I agree and I think the lineup really reflects that. There are Festivals that have been dubbed Transformational Festivals that have become popular and seems to be unique to the west, or at least born here, would you consider Arise a Transformational Festival?
PB– Well if people come to Arise and they leave somehow transformed, then the answer would be yes! What I can really speak to is the intention put into this and the planning and conception of the Festival, and I think it will speak for itself whether or not it’s a transformational experience for people. I will say this, in the concept and the intention, and if you really think about what to believe in the meaning of Arise, is certainly to entertain people, because that’s always the big attraction. The entertainment is going to bring people together. And it’s our intention, our belief, and our hope, that people will be inspired, that they will be informed, and they will also be enlightened, and ultimately, and this is our greatest aspiration, that they will ultimately be empowered. What people do with that elevation of their own personal existence. How that help for you to be empowered, speaks to you or translates, or shows up in the world beyond the Festival is really an individual thing. What that will look like when people work together as a collective, as a community, remains to be seen. But I do believe that will prove to be what a true Transformational Festival is. To not just feel transformed, but somehow be transformed. Somehow when a personal transformation, with a collective transformation, has some form of action. Has some form of existence that really is different. And that’s what transformational really means.
For all the info, check out the Arise website.