By Jennifer Pund
Throughout his career, Paul Bassis has always bridged entertainment and activism, even through he doesn’t consider himself an activist. Coming out of retirement from producing music festivals in California, he works passionately to make the ARISE Festival in Loveland a unique and memorable experience for all. Sunrise Ranch opens it doors, Aug. 8-10, to the festival intended to promote sustainability, connection and consciousness though art, entertainment and activism.
Bassis spent many years in the 80s co-producing—with Carol Bruno—the internationally acclaimed Reggae On the River music festival. It was known as the “best reggae and world music experience to be found.” Each year, thousands would “reconnect with friends and groove to the superb musical offerings and relax in the beautiful California natural environment of the concert site,” according to event producers. In 2004, Bassis left the production company he co-founded to work full time operating a management company, speakers bureau and literary agency for high profile environmental activists. Bassis says his success has always been about using his skill set to help important voices be heard. Representing such revolutionaries like Daryl Hanna and Julia Butterfly Hill, he describes his work as facilitating the radicalizing of celebrities and the “celebritizing” of radicals.
“I have never really thought of myself as an activist, just someone who has always been very freakin’ active,” Bassis explains. “When you allow yourself to be driven by your passion you are only doing what comes naturally. I don’t think it’s more complicated than that.” Bassis says he has love for the ARISE Music Festival because it is such a great manifestation of that objective.
After 30 years of working around festivals, Bassis doesn’t reflect back much, but says “passion”—that feeling that moves us when we don’t have to—is the reason behind most of what keeps him coming back. He likens it to a bird souring above the land, not contemplating the air that is allowing it to happen.
“I don’t think the bird gives any more consideration to the source of that wind as the musicians who are playing together in the same groove wonder, ‘Hey, where did this groove come from?’ My favorite bumper sticker says, ‘do something.’ I don’t know if that’s an actual bumper sticker but it should be.” Bassis said.
According to producers, the Sunrise Ranch in Loveland is like a “magic secret valley” that enables the ARISE Music Festival to have a home in the one of the most idyllic settings for multi-day camping festival, calling it “just an absolute sweet spot.”
Being grounded in a “truly sacred place” is important to Bassis. “The first time I stepped foot in that valley I knew this was the kind of place that people would want to return to every year and that is an essential factor when starting a brand new annual music festival,” he said.
The independent, grass roots, musically diverse, family friendly event is a hybrid between the traditional music festival and an evolved co-creative, eco-conscious art festival with a bend towards activism and community building. It is an experience that can only be described as a “festival wonderland.” The mostly local sponsors are mostly organic, with brands, products and business practices that align with the values of the producers and festival community of attendees and participants.
Music from diverse acts including Beats Antique, Galactic featuring Chali 2NA and Lyrics Born, The Infamous Stringdusters, Grateful Grass with Keller Williams, Polish Ambassador and many more, will allow fans of many different styles to find a drum for their own beat.
Plan costumes, grab a yoga mat, spark up some creativity and get tickets to ARISE. Visit http://www.arisefestival.com for more information and schedule of events.