More than music

Arise Music Festival is aiming for the total package

Courtesy of Beats Antique

When you find yourself at a music festival in most places, chances are you’re looking at the stage. But if that festival is in Colorado, you might be spending as much time looking at the scenery, and that’s just fine. At least that’s how Arise Music Festival producer Paul Bassis feels about it.

“I was really moved by the beauty of Sunrise Ranch,” says Bassis. “It is truly a beautiful place.”

The Sunrise Ranch near Loveland is where Bassis continues to host the Arise Music Festival, which he co-founded in 2013.

For the music portion of this year’s event, Arise will unleash a hybrid of traditional and experimental music, adding a new and unique chapter to the Colorado festival scene. Headliners include the gypsy-hip hop/dance circus hybrid of Beats Antique, former Jurassic 5-er Chali 2Na performing with Lyrics Born, big name bluegrass acts such as The Infamous Stringdusters, jamsters like Yamn, and reggae acts including

Tribal Seeds. Even the legendary musician/ activist Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary fame will be on hand. And the list just goes on and on. There are literally dozens of bands on the ticket.

In addition, the festival will have a separate stage with nearly 30 Electronic Dance Music (EDM) artists performing all weekend long, including Mr. Bill out of Sydney, Australia, Denver’s O-NEB, and the Chicago-based Cofresi, who blends soul and dubstep production with live performance drumming.

But as anyone who attended last year can tell you, Arise is much more than a music festival. It’s much deeper than that. Arise also provides an intensive series of yoga and movement classes each day along with workshops, independent films, art galleries and celebrity guest presenters discussing ways to create a positive impact on the community and the environment.

Workshops will cover everything from upping your sitar skills, to a dialogue on fracking, to a panel on how to integrate solar energy into your house and garden. There’s even a workshop called “Visionary Sobriety” from paleontologist turned “performance philosopher,” Michael Garfield.

“Our intention as producers is to provide uplifting programs and create an elaborate and positive experience,” says Bassis. “This is not just a celebration, this is intended to enlighten people and we keep that objective in mind in everything we do for this festival. We have a guiding principle and that is to do what is simply ‘best for the fest.’” And a big part of what’s “best for the fest” is looking at what’s best for the region, environmentally, economically and socially.

“We’re all about building and supporting the local community,” continues Bassis. “For example, you’re not going to be seeing Coke or Pepsi at our festival but instead you’ll be seeing some of the local amenities that our communities have to offer. We’re all about building a symbiotic relationship with each other.”

To heighten that symbiotic relationship, Bassis and his co-founder Tierro Lee made some changes in the festival’s second year: adjusting the design layout and adding in extra festival elements and amenities. Bassis feels the additions should make attendees feel more comfortable and inspired.

But of course, like Colorado itself, the thing that brings it all home is the setting, which as Bassis says, is pretty epic.

The event space near Loveland is surrounded by mountains, national forests and is packed with lakes and ponds as well as sculpted gardens, all with scenic views of the foothills leading up to the mighty Rockies. Camping is available on-site and there is plenty of infrastructure for nonmusic events like films and workshops, including the Sunrise Ranch’s domed auditorium.

“I have much gratitude towards the people of Sunrise Ranch for allowing us to throw such a one-of-a-kind event in this magical valley,” says Bassis.

To show his gratitude, Bassis and company are working hard to make sure the event is as low-impact as possible, not just with the local economic focus, but also with a strong focus on making the festival as green as possible by aggressive reuse, composting, recycling and leave-no-trace efforts.

You can read more about the environmental efforts, get a complete schedule of events, buy tickets or review the amenities at