I started field recording at the 2000 Montana rainbow gathering, and for a few. 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 1100 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 me if you have any comments or corrections to share: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate to the project HERE.
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.
In a same same but different way, rainbow gatherings, much like this collection of field recordings, just about anything and everything may find its way into the song, snippet, story or poem (and gathering). In essence, they are a shovel full of sound decorated with embers, shouts for wood, mud, laughter, hopes, dreams, profane bleach, sacred tarps, hazy eyes, spoon ladles, garlic, crooked tents, smelly crystals, silty fingernails, magic fires, knotted tongues, happy griddles, sacks of flour, propositions of anything, slippery smiles, interstellar oatmeal mush, hands upon hands upon hand wash, circling circled circles, lost thoughts, coffee grounds, genuine soot, fragrant compost, phantom trails, 6up thrills, Klaus Nomi but probably not, sometimes moose, rumors with a mission, kitchens gone mad, kitchens gone glad, water line spines, tobacco lust, white rabbit chants, changing chain gang trenches, whispering whispers, theatrical spatulas, shouting mountains, moistened clouds, sedated rest stops, itchy heads, rambling babble, transient MCs, localized focalized focus, wolf man syndromes, frolicking faeries, ragtag robes, hodge-podge clothes, not quite ready berries, standing firm trees, busy buzzing bees, reenactments, damp musky teas, sharing of things, questioning knees, chattering teeth, fuzzy warmth, slimy toes, careful carabiners, sizzling saws, boo-boo gauze, painted whippersnappers, pit stop patrols, hanging hammocks, musical benches, infinite rice, snickering evening, campfire whispers, rocking rocket stoves, singsong along, shitter diggin’, broadening meadows, crawling creeks, noble chocolate, bustling ovens, wheeling wheel barrels, got a cigarette gnomes, important bowls, precious cups, birdsong morn, boom boom drums, glittery stares, achy backs, cosmic talk, cardboard signs, churning prophecies, massaging muscles, huggy hugs, nomadic palaces, slow moving buses, raining rainbows, daydream waters, invisible networks and of course free food with an occasional full moon to carry the whole thing along.
Yupper, it all gets in there somewhere…