LOGAN, Ohio - Artists, musicians and soul-searchers from across the nation and around the world will be converging on rural Eastern Ohio this weekend for a gathering that is unlike any other in the Midwest.
Celebrating its fourth year, the Rootwire Music and Arts Festival kicks off Thursday at Kaeppner's Woods near Logan, Ohio - located just 30 minutes northeast of Hocking Hills State Park. The brainchild of Athens, Ohio-born electronic/rock band Papadosio, Rootwire has steadily evolved from a grassroots music and arts festival into a Mecca for those seeking inspiration from the enveloping connectivity and flood of creativity that fills the woods and hillsides during the four-day extravaganza.
Rootwire not only plays host to a wide variety of bands, but also features dozens of live artists, art installations, workshops, activists, speakers and presenters on multiple stages throughout the venue. Music and art intertwine during performances, when artists take to their canvases and draw inspiration from the live music and the crowd during the impromptu creation of their works.
Photo by B. Hockensmith
The Rootwire Music and Arts Festival takes place Aug. 15-18 at Kaeppner's Woods in Logan, Ohio.
"There's a deep connection at Rootwire between the visual and auditory arts, mostly stemming from the fact, I believe, that they feed off of each other," said Billy Brouse, keyboardist of Papadosio. "One can exist without the other, but rarely does one not invoke the spirit of the other. That may sound a bit out there, but it's true. I love to see visual art, and I love to hear music, and Rootwire provides an aesthetic free-for-all so that these can coexist."
Artist Kat Francis of Cleveland, Ohio attended Rootwire for the first time last year, just as a patron.
"I wasn't familiar with this event yet, and figured I would check it out," she said. "Rootwire completely blew my mind right as I arrived. I have been going to Ohio festivals for the past decade and attend a show every weekend pretty much. Rootwire is like no other fest in the Midwest."
Francis said the event's draw of musicians, artists and fans from all over the country and from so many different backgrounds was something that made a lasting impression.
"The focus of this magical event is the art," Francis said, noting that there's a lot to share and learn among artists and performers uniting from across the country and around the globe. "You can't help but get swept off your feet by the collaboration of the arts, whether it's fire, yoga, painters, sculptors, musicians ... Seeing this, I knew I wanted to be a part of this festival. It's a very great honor to be part of it this year."
Francis is one of more than a dozen visual artists appearing on this year's bill alongside more than 30 bands and several presenters, including Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow.
In the realm of live painting during band performances, the artists bring their works to life before the masses, drawing inspiration from the crowd, the music and the eye-popping setting. Artists set up easels in the middle of the crowd, and anyone on hand can watch as the artworks unveil with each brushstroke.
"We utilize the sound, the energy and the environment to move us through our paintings," Francis said. "I move my brush strokes to the sounds and get lost in the bass and movement of dancing to truly focus on creating in a positive environment. The best part of it all is that I'm alongside my peers and artists who inspire me, feeling the same thing, and yet we're all expressing something different on each canvas. It's beautiful."
One of the best rewards of live painting, Francis said, is talking to people in the crowd about the artwork after it is completed and sharing different interpretations of the pieces.
All in all, the venue for Rootwire is transformed into a "festival-based visionary art gallery" designed to serve as an inspirational catalyst for creativity.
"Everyone should come with an open mind," Brouse said.
Like Rootwire, Papadosio has continued to grow in recent years. The band first came together at weekly jam sessions in 2006, found a common sound and vision, and took momentum from there. From playing the area festival circuit and earning stripes through relentless live performances, the band's growing popularity has elevated them to earn a headliner status. In recent years, members of Papadosio have found themselves touring the nation and seen the band's name rise toward the top of bills at many of the biggest music festival in the country.
"Over the years, we've encountered many things together, and they've helped us grow into a five-headed music machine that none of us really knows how to stop," Brouse said. "It's been weird to say the least."
The members of Papadosio - Anthony Thogmartin on guitar and vocals; Rob McConnell on bass; Mike Healy on drums; and brothers Billy and Sam Brouse on keyboards, synthesizers and programming - throw their passion behind Rootwire every year, organizing all aspects of the festival from selecting the eclectic lineup of musical acts, artists and presenters to participating in the events throughout the long weekend.
"We are there the whole time doing things, we set it up in our time off, and we believe in it wholeheartedly," Brouse said. "Some music festivals exist to make money, while Rootwire exists solely for the sake of everyone's happiness. Money is not the object here.
"It's a gathering of great people. These people come from all walks of life - some are artists, some are patrons - and everyone comes together to have a great time."
For more information about Rootwire, visit www.rootwirefestival.com.