Sparkleberry Lane’s Richard Edens recently asked TC Co-Founder & Coordinator, Clayton Gaar, some questions about Tribal Council’s roots, influences, and overall vision. This is a comprehensive interview which offers some deeper insight into what Tribal Council is, where it came from, and what makes us tick. Enjoy the read!
Tribal Council was honored when AURA Music and Arts Festival asked us to set up our dome as the festival sanctuary. We gleefully held sacred space all weekend for festival goers in the Ohm Dome, which looked fresh with the debut of the white flower of life patterned covering. Synchronicities were happening at a “wow” rate and collaborations with visual artists (CLVR ATL) and musicians (Anthony Thogmartin from Papadosio, Sound Duo, Andy Reed) happened organically. Fruition was the key word of the weekend! Perhaps the following blog quote best describes the success of the sanctuary:
“When folks needed respite from the flashing lights and loud sounds, they entered the dome–a beautiful chill space created by the Tribal Council. Inside, healing crystals, incense, and Buddha statues sat atop tables, cushions covered the ground, and spiritual texts were scattered about. DJs spun chill music and transportational visuals were projected onto the ceiling. People spoke, recited poetry, exchanged massages, read, meditated, and relaxed together. The dome was a key element to the overall vibe of the fest.”
-County Grind, The Broward and Palm Beach Music Spin
Thirty-six hours after flying back into the country from Envision Festival, I was assembling with fellow councilors for our official festival debut of our newly remodeled dome. It’s unbelievable how much stuff you can fit into a Toyota 4-Runner.
After meeting Sir Edwin Leskin in the Wal-Mart parking lot in St. Cloud, Florida, we caravaned the remaining miles to Forever Florida, a 4,700 acre eco-ranch and wildlife conservation area where AURA Music and Arts Festival is held. When we arrived, the festival grounds were nearly empty and the stages were hardly set up. After brief introductions with the festival organizers, Daryl and Cameron of AURA Music Events, we retired to our tents in the Florida Everglade habitat in preparation for the long build day to follow.
It was a full day of setup and it was joyful! The crew that stepped up to the plate and signed on for our AURA assignment was a powerful group of movers and shakers that could get things done efficiently while laughing and enjoying each other’s company. It was our first time installing our white “flower of life” triangle pattern on the dome, and after a bit of experimentation, it went up quick and easy…and boy did it look good! A huge thanks to my parents, true loving, wise elders and integral chieftains of the Tribal Council, who slaved laboriously for hours to finish fabricating these triangles while I was sipping mojitos in Costa Rica.
Tim Coffey, Art Director of Brotherly Love Productions, hooked us up with a sweet spot right next to the main stage and we were pumped on his vision. It allowed for people to take a quick respite from the dance floor rage-a-thon, relax on soft pillows and blankets and then be back to boogyin’ in no time. From years of experience, I certainly know what it’s like to need a break but not want to hike all the way back to the campsite. Usually you end up laying down in the dirt or the cold dew-covered grass in the back of the crowd. The carpeted dome is a much cozier alternative.
Friday afternoon before the music started, the dome crew and some other councilors who had arrived, like the one and only visionary artist Andy Reed, circled up for an opening ceremony. Edwin led us in a beautifully guided meditation to begin the communion and connect our heart space. Opening ceremonies are a great way to set intentions and get grounded before the expansive blast off that we experience throughout the weekend at these gatherings.
When a minor monsoon blew in on Friday, we were glad to have a house-sized agricultural tarp with which to cover the sanctuary. The lightning forced the main stage to stop for about an hour or so, which was fine by us because Cameron, aka the best sound guy ever, began playing a perfectly suited selection of tunes during the rain delay – STS9’s Artifact and Telefon Tel Aviv’s Fahrenheit Fair Enough – and we in the dome were practically the only people still by the main stage to enjoy it!
The sanctuary was perfectly safe and dry, so we passed the time dancing to Artifact and taking turns reading aloud our favorite passages of sacred texts and poetry from our massive book collection spread around the altars.
Big thanks to Calder Wilson for snapping this sweet wide-angle shot of us during the rain storm. It really helps show the flower of life pattern on the dome. Our silly faces seemed to have proved too wild for the long exposure.
It was an exciting weekend for our friends at The Headspace who, like us, were enjoying their official festival debut appearance vending. Brett and Taylor are wonderful human beings making big moves in the scene while they strive to provide tons of high-quality art to the community. They are living proof that good things happen to those who work hard, have good intentions, and spread positive energy.
Although we TC crew held a constant presence in and around the dome, one of the most beautiful unfoldings of the sanctuary experience was the fact that all the visitors to the dome treated it with the utmost respect. In essence, everyone became stewards of the space. There was a sign greeting domies with the message that “This is your sanctuary,” and it was obvious that this sense of ownership was internalized by all. On the occasion that an unknowing friend walked in with shoes on, another domie would kindly remind them to remove their shoes before we had the chance to open our mouth. Most noticed on their own accord. It became clear that people picked up on the sacred vibe of the space immediately and adjusted their mindset and awareness to this fact. For us, it was extremely rewarding to see this happen and it touched us deeply.
Spontaneity is one of the defining characteristics of Tribal Council. Whether it was strolling through the crowd at the main stage smudging the sweaty dancers with sage, running into the dome to count off a loud collective “MEEEEOOOOW,” or circling everyone up for a period of OHMing, Tribal Council did what we do best: We serve to remind “our selves,” that is to say your self, my self, and the collective self, that we are gathered here today to honor the miracle of life by fully rejoicing in seriously silly sacred celebration and loving our selves.
The bright full moon was shining down on us all weekend.
All the way from the mountains of Asheville, NC, Andy Reed was holding it down as a member of the live painting artist panel all weekend. His work is truly multidimensional, layering natural landscapes, intergalactic portals, and sacred geometry. He has also become one of TC’s staple sunrise DJs with his impeccable taste in downtempo and psychedelic ambient music. Andy threw down a lovely sunrise set Saturday morning at the sanctuary after all the stages shut down.
The dome was always packed in the late night as everyone was looking for a comfortable dry place to give each other back massages and stretch their weary legs. It was great to see the space get used so much and all the shenanigans were a blast!
The firespinning area was thankfully right in front of the dome so we had front row seats all weekend for the talented performers.
Huge props go to Anthony Thogmartin, lead guitarist of Papadosio, who brought his sound to the dome and spun both an original Earth Cry set and a sweet sunrise DJ set Friday and Saturday. It was a beautiful way to end the night, and er…start the new day.
Another beautiful synchronicity that manifested on site was the sweet projection visuals from CLVR ATL, which really took the sanctuary to another level. Anthony’s music and CLVR ATL’s visuals are exactly the type of organic collaborations that Tribal Council is looking for. Look at what can be accomplished when people come together for the purpose of intentional co:creation? Yes, it is possible and beautiful in the microcosm of our music and art communities, which appears to be one of the main focuses of TC. However, I’d like expand this idea and ask, “Is this sort of co:creation, this pooling of resources, possible in the macrocosm of our everyday community and, to take it a step further, in our larger community of human civilization?” The answer is yes, and our civilization is hungrier than ever for it. Tribal Council seeks to facilitate this shift in every way, shape, and form. Let us remember our oneness.
After some early morning cleaning and organization, there was a rare lull in the action for us councilors. It was the perfect time for our personal practice. This was the least I’ve ever slept at a music festival but the most energy I’ve ever experienced at a gathering. I felt chi channeling through me, and it was the result of both the joy of being in service and the benefits of the meditative environment of the sanctuary.
Sometimes in life your neighbors can be a drag. Not this time! We were blessed to share our space in the main stage field with the Orlando-based Bodhi Tree crew, who were creating super fresh graffiti artworks all weekend and blowing glass on sight in their mobile studio. Bodhi Tree has it going on, artistically and spiritually, and we look forward to future neighborly interactions and collaborations. If you’re in Orlando, I suggest stopping by their boutique to give them some love and buy some glass and graffiti art supplies.
Music-wise, Papadosio stole the entire weekend for me with both of their banger sets Saturday and Sunday night. These guys are just what our music scene needs. They bring a fresh, bright, love energy to the scene and their music is uplifting and downright dirty at the same time. In addition to the tunes, Jason Takahashi brought the sacred fractal hot sauce visuals during Dosio’s sets as well! Integration. Yes we are integrating.
Dear friend and the man with the plan, Tim Coffey. We love you Timmy!
This is what I love to see, live art everywhere! People creating in full force. Tim brought in a lot of great talent in the live artist line-up.
This fact was evident when one walked into the art tent, which housed all the works of the live artists.
We were stoked when a friend brought a didgeridoo to the sanctuary and blasted some sound healing vibrations at folks on the last night tip. With TC’s interests and expertise in areas like sound healing, sacred geometry, metaphysics, and spirituality, expect to see some educational workshops come out of the sanctuary in the near future. If you have a skill or an area of expertise you’d like to share with the community, contact us at email@example.com.
In line with the aforementioned workshops, another delightful surprise was when the Miami yogis – Kelly Searcy, Bernardo Valero, and Joaquin de Teresa – asked to hold their chanting and breathwork class in the sanctuary after the yoga class. This felt so good that we did a wicked fun yoga class in the dome the following afternoon. The highlight of the class was when we blew the tarp straight off the dome in the rain from the massive ball of chi we were building in the dome!
The lesson of the AURA experience for me was how to live in service. Being a part of the sanctuary team at AURA redefined my understanding of service. If you are passionate about the way in which you are serving others, it is not work; it is the greatest, most joyful play. I shall end this with a proper shout out to the AURA TC Sanctuary crew, whose positive attitudes, abundant creativity, and righteous dedication surely made an impact on the energy of the whole festival. So blessed and so grateful to be a part of this!