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Papadosio talks Rootwire

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LACY BURSICK
  • Lacy Bursick

For those of you who don't know, Papadosio is a transformational genre bending jam band that values convergence of the arts. This is the forth year they have thrown their own music and arts festival where their fans gather to inspire one another and have a life changing experience. This weekend at Kaeppner's Woods in Logan, Ohio, the fourth annual Rootwire Music and Art Festival will draw a crowd from all over for visual arts, music and spiritual arts. There will be meditations, artist workshops, a musical lineup of Papadosio's favorite acts as well as multiple nights of Papadosio including a special acoustic set.

NUVO: You guys have really grown within the past few years. This winter I attended a show where you guys filled the House of Blues in Chicago. What do you credit for your success?

Anthony Thogmartin: We actually didn't expect it to go as well as it did. But over the years we have found out that just by observation that musicians more recently than ever are in a weird way trying to copy each other because they see what works for one person and then they're like oh I can do that and then they will do it. We see a lot of this going on. And people like to identify with very specific genres but we just kind of write whatever we write musically and just end up doing.

Like today we just finished up an almost gospel tune and I know that sounds strange but it's a rough thing. But we get this response with a lot of our most popular songs: some people really like it and other people are like what the hell is this? But after some familiarity, over time it becomes like a classic. And that is almost every song we come up with. So we purposely didn't choose a genre because that's just no fun.

I don't know if you watch TV at all, I stopped a long time ago, but now when I flip on the TV it's like an on spot of constant craziness over and over again. I think people really have short attention spans. So like a show that has a bunch of different things going on and has a bunch of things going on like a variety show I guess, I think that people are really into that. And the fact that we remain original throughout this whole thing, we didn't get caught up. Like one of the things that happened in our career was the whole dubstep craze and now it's pretty much dead and over with. But we just never went there because it was never what we were feeling would be original.

If you look at the artists that stuck to their guns or what they are doing. For example, Lotus if we are talking about the jam band thing, they still have that same sounding guitar over top of other things, that's just what they do and they do it really well. It has kept them in the limelight in some ways; their goal is to be themselves and not to get bigger crowds. I feel like a lot of musicians are just trying to get bigger crowds and that act destroys their careers.

NUVO: You have a festival of your own coming up this weekend called Rootwire. Can you tell me how it all began?

Thogmartin: Back in the day, I think we all had a collective vision like wouldn't it be cool if there was a field full of people painting easels. The whole idea is we would set up easels for them and they would come in and paint to what we were playing and the artists would sort of play off of each other. But that was a very small little dream compared to what has actually happened and now it's like performance artists doing acrobatic stuff to the music and painters doing what they're doing at the same time. The goal of Rootwire is the same vision too and that was to have an environment like that, like an art fest.

What Rootwire was in the beginning was just sort of an 800-person party, like a little art party. We know a lot of visionary artists and we were like maybe we can just honor visual arts the way we honor music. Then my good friend was like, "you know there is another whole kind of art to accessing the spirit. And there are a lot of people I know here in Columbus that have this stuff going on." And they were just doing little presentations, mediations, yoga and stuff like that. The response to that from our fans was so crazy. My experience was such a good wholesome holistic thing and I was like wow this is really powerful. People were telling me all kinds of things they were willing to kind of like change about their lives after the festival. It was crazy because it was just a party.

So the second year we were like "Let's take it further and build an artist gallery by itself and build a place for people to do mediations and yoga and stuff like that here and honor that." Then really ever since then to describe what Rootwire has become now is it has just gotten better at that.

If someone asks what is different about Rootwire this year I would honestly say if we could Rootwire as well as the past I would be happy. I am actually honestly scared that were not going to do it as well because the last two years have been so good. We don't have a complaint. We try to keep the experience of the person going in the limelight.

People make lasting friendships. Something really interesting is we have had some marriages happen at Rootwire. We have even had a few gay marriages happen at Rootwire. That is a blessing and that says something you know. People feel safe to do that.

NUVO: How did you guys choose the location?

Thogmartin: We played at a festival at the grounds and it had a mud pit. People were dancing in the mud pit. It's just perfect. It's small but it adds to that small vibe though. If it was a field I feel like maybe we would want to fill it more but we aren't inviting bands that you see on every festival lineup. We aren't a festival trying to sell a lot of tickets. We are trying to create an experience that people can actually access and not feel small.

NUVO: There are a lot of names I haven't heard of on the Rootwire line up. How did you find these bands?

Thogmartin: We sit down and are like "Who have we seen this past year that is a jaw dropping band?" Or what art or workshops have you done that stood out and we created a list of things that we thought were mind blowing.

I am looking forward to having some of our first international artists come out. There is a jam band from the UK and visual artists from Mexico. I know people aren't familiar with our lineup but it's all by design. We don't want people like "Oh, it's Papadosio's festival plus all this." We don't want a bunch of rift raft. We want people to mean it. We don't offer day passes because we want people to come all four nights. We want it to be an experience to take hold and take change outside of the festival's reach.

When don't book artists the next year they get sort of sad but they have to understand that's just because we are trying to keep it diverse with not too many repeats every year so it can be a fresh experience. An expectation can be a fresh experience. Our goal for Rootwire is to inspire people to do art.

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