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This weekend was the annual Harmany Festival in Santa Rosa – one of my favorite festivals.  We went Saturday to see Michael Franti and Spearhead and a bonus was the Sierra Leone Refugee Allstars (who were incredible and have an incredible story).   The Refugee All Stars actually met in a refugee camp in Sierra Leone where they were “living” after they had to flee their homes due to the rebels.  They met some of their members in other camps – the one member was an orphan, two of the members had limbs amputated by the rebels and they were given some old instruments by a Canadian aid organization.  Yet through these horrific events, an absolutely incredible and uplifting group of musicians was born.  The music is the kind that gets you up off your tired bum and gets you groovin’ and smiling!  And it’s a good reminder of how good life is.  And of course, Michael Franti is the epitome of feeling good music and getting up and groovin’ ( “How ya’ll feelin’!?”)  He always has a message and is all about Peace and Love and you can feel it through his music.  Two groups I highly recommend if they are in your area.

The Harmony Fest has been going on for 31 years.  It is a festival about healthy living, alternative living, eco-conscious living, peaceful living and just good living in general.  They have some of the most amazing speakers (Starhawk and Julia Butterfly Hill – two of my faves), classes/workshops/lectures, yoga, dance, meditation, body work, etc.  You can camp the entire weekend under the redwoods.  One year I am going to do that so I can attend some of the workshops and lectures and just get completely lost in “Harmony”.  We just went for the day – and there is no way to cover 1/4 of the Festival, but with the kids and $ (and Milo and Mo) we just enjoyed a wonderful day of Utopia!

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I’m still on a high from being there.  It will take a couple days to come down from my Utopian high.  I get so energized from being at an event such as this.  You see all the incredible ideas for eco living, healthy living, wonderful artists and a lot of “conscious” individuals in one location – yes it’s inspiring.

Have you been inspired lately?  What has gotten you inspired?

I am so addicted to Paul Simon’s most recent album, Surprise.  It’s just a reminder of what a great songwriter and musician he is.  He has managed to transcend generations and eras flawlessly.  I have always been a huge Paul Simon fan.  We’ve been lucky enough to see him a few times- most recently being in October of 2006 when he was on tour promoting Surprise.  We saw him at the Greek Theater in Berkeley (what an amazing place to see a show!  We love that venue- the acoustics are great, its outdoors, and you are on one of the greatest campuses around- it’s got its own energy.) 

I digress, anyways; this album has songs dealing with the world today and the issues at hand (not many musicians now a days sing about anything that’s relevant).  Well not most of the music on the radio, anyways.  Here I am saying “now a days” acting like I’m some old lady (I think I was born 20 years late or I must be reincarnated).  But during the 60’s and early 70’s there was so much turmoil and unrest and a revolution was going on (with the youth) and the musicians were singing about it and getting  people excited and turned on and involved.  We are in a time, very much reflective of that era and not any are singing about it.  I like to see Musicians who sing about “something” and something positive.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with escaping reality and just jamming out to some happy go lucky lyrics and music (i.e. the Grateful Dead) but sometimes you need that poetic reminder of what’s going on around you. So all in all, I’m telling you to go out and buy Surprise and hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

“What we play is life”  Louis Armstrong