I started field recording at the 2000 Montana rainbow gathering. At the time, I had been attending rainbow gatherings for several years and had felt that there was a raw and pure essence to the music that was being created. The intimately varied environment offered a unique recording situation where one can always expect the unexpected. On any song you may hear laughter, crickets, the crackle from a campfire, the cries of a child, trickling streams and so forth. The music in relation to these seemingly synchronous “background” sounds adds to the overall flavor and mystique. There are heaps of treasured moments where a symbiotic force emerges and carries all the sounds into a sonic unification.
The winter prior to the Montana rainbow gathering, while camping in the northern desert in Mexico a vision swept over me, which encouraged me to dive into the world of sound, and carry these songs from the forest to the world. In the past, inspiring people such as Alan Lomax or Harry Smith carried the torch of song from the forgotten cracks of our communities into the hearts of thousands world wide. In doing so, they facilitated the preservation of the peoples/folk song. Because a folk song is a song performed by the people and for the people regardless of commercial appeal, it is often passed on orally from one generation to the next. Rainbow gatherings and the threads between them are primarily an oral culture, and it is my intent to pass these recordings on so that they will not become lost and forgotten in our busily distracted and hurried modern world.
Music is a reflection of a culture and the corporate dominance and stronghold of the music industry has left people feeling cold and voiceless. In some ways, it has separated the connection that music represents. Of course, there are heaps of precious commercial recordings since the dawn of the recording industry but, for example, when I listen to Pre-War recordings, there’s a resilient allure that reminds me of the importance of the bucolic and pastoral musical medium. Many of those old recordings seem to transcend their original commercial intent as if they were sung on the front porch. And, for better or worse, this “down-home feel” is what I have attempted to preserve on each compilation.
It should also be pointed out that these recordings are the result of thousands of peoples efforts to make a gathering happen. It takes a lot of hard work to construct a temporary autonomous village in a unpredictably remote environment – ya gotta give a little to get a little, as they say. What a joy it is to sit around the fire at night with a warm drink in hand and the offering of music to fill our hearts.
On this website, you can download or listen to over 623 songs, poems, stories, and what-have-yous. They are varied as much as the rainbow phenomenon itself. A gathering represents all walks of life and many eclectic styles of expression. They will make you laugh and make you dance. They will make you cry and they will make you sing.
Share in this dance that dances around, in, and thru you. ‘Cuz the good ol’ days are actually these days passing us by. DING!
Email tenali if you have any comments or corrections to share: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is difficult to explain what a rainbow gathering is since there are no “official” versions or leaders to quote and since every gathering is a different experience for everyone every time. I suggest you do a web search if you are interested in reading more in depth articles and accounts on the basics of a rainbow gathering.
The gatherings roots sprouted from the anti war movement of the 1960s and the first one was held from roughly July 1st – 7th in 1972 in the Roosevelt National Forest near Grandby, Colorado. The culmination was the July 4th morning of silence and prayer for world peace. Ever since, the annual gathering has been held in a variety of National Forests in a variety of states from July 1st – 7th. Around the early 1980s the phenomenon expanded and the rainbow family grew, and smaller gatherings began to take place at different times and different regions throughout the world.
Nowadays the rainbow gatherings are unofficially classified into nationals, internationals, regional, world gatherings, or just by the name of the region (i.e. Central American Gathering) or continent (i.e. European Gathering), but it is all relative and certainly irrelevant as the true spirit of the gathering is independent of any titles or nationalities: every rainbow gathering is a “world” gathering.
By some accounts, the purpose of using the name “rainbow” comes from the Hopi prophecies that speak about the people of all colors of the rainbow coming together, and, in essence, that’s exactly what a rainbow gathering is: people coming together, families coming together, tribes coming together. A public event put on by the public and for the public regardless of religion, nationality, conditions or circumstances. Anyone anywhere can consider him or herself a rainbow and welcomed home to every gathering they wish to attend. Every gathering presents an opportunity to come closer to Mother Earth and to experience what it is to camp in a remote location working together to provide for the daily needs. We all become students and teachers, as we all, coming from different paths and backgrounds have a wealth of things to share. Find yourself at a gathering and you may just find different types of music, perspectives, workshops (yoga, plant walks, and so on), primitive skills, humor, and, of course, food. There are things that one may learn at rainbow that will certainly stay with you for life. One such example is the skill of working together cooking food for hundreds of people. Many people have taken that skill and have applied it outside of a gathering at homeless shelters, disaster relief, or perhaps simply a local community pot luck.
I once heard a police officer say that it was impossible that rainbow has no leaders, because hundreds or thousands of people could never come together without a formal organization. He is proven wrong every year, all the time, all over the world. A rainbow gathering is perhaps the largest non-organization of non-members in the world, and a constant reminder that we can do more together then any of us can do on our own.