Author - Jordan Miller

“Pass a Good Time” at BUKU

BUKU 2019 Art Backdrop

A short drive from the bustle of Bourbon Street, past the smell of Café Du Monde beignets and over south Canal Street, you can find a festival for music, art and traditional Louisiana cuisine known as BUKU Music + Art Project. The festival brings in major musical talents from various genres like hip-hop, indie, and electronic, but the most impressive aspect of BUKU is the amount and variety of art. BUKU encompasses the art-rich history of the Big Easy by showcasing multiple artists and art forms like roving musical troupes, acrobats, and dancers, while also creating fun backdrops like graffitied walls, revolving projection mapped spectacles, and Mardi Gras floats. Whether walking to another set or exploring the venue, you are always surrounded by art.

BUKU 2019 Shipping Crate Art
The BUKU shipping crate art installation was a popular backdrop

A crowd favorite was New Thousand with Adrian Jusdanis, who would wow passersby with an animated performance on his electric violin accompanied by Nick Haven, performing on five gallon buckets, used as drums. You couldn’t help but be drawn into the crowd that encircled Adrian and watch with eager eyes as he fervently plucked notes with his teeth while dancing around. The roving musical troupes added an essence of surprise to the BUKU experience by turning up unannounced with a group of dancing festival goers in tow as they moved to various stages as if the troupe was the Festival Pied Pipers.

Aside from the pop-up musical acts, BUKU hosted some major musical talent that undoubtedly helped them expand the venue and boast record numbers for their eighth year. Established artists like Lana Del Ray, RL Grime, A$AP Rocky, and Griz headlined the festival; all the musical acts big and small delivered. The Slander B2B NGHTMRE performance Friday night really set the bar for the weekend as the trio played a bass heavy set that got the whole crowd head-banging and sporting dirty bass faces. Yaeji performed her signature sound, hip hop house with mellow Korean and English lyrics, to a packed Float Den stage Saturday evening. Oliver Tree also graced the Float Den and despite starting 45 minutes later than scheduled, was greeted by cheering fans as he rode in on his Razor scooter while emulating the 80’s by sporting a brightly colored puffy track suit.

BUKU 2019 Oliver Tree
Oliver Tree Performing at BUKU 2019

Oliver Tree wasn’t the only BUKU attendee dressed to impress. The entire festival was flooded with outlandish and expressive fashions that one could only find in New Orleans. Everything from rhinestone cowboy hats to Carnival style bras and feather headdresses were seen cutting through the crowd or standing in line for water. You could also visit one of the many “style booths” and get glittered, colorful hair extensions, or body painted.

BUKU also incorporated the Big Easy’s foodie scene into the festival by allowing attendees the option to try traditional Louisiana food like shrimp po’boys, boudin Cajun sausage, and spicy gumbo. Those with VIP wristbands were invited to the Crawfish Boil Saturday afternoon where they could enjoy fresh crawfish paired with all the fixins like corn on the cob, potatoes, and Cajun spiced onions. Having access to these traditional Louisiana foods really brought the whole BUKU experience together.

The eclectic blend of music, art, fashion and food should put BUKU on your list as a must see festival. The culture of New Orleans flows through the venue and brings an exciting edge to the music and arts festival. As the locals would say, “Pass a good time” and come check out BUKU!

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Roots Reggae Festival Expands to Arizona

Dispatch Performing at AZ Roots Festival (2)

Its not uncommon for inaugural festivals to run into obstacles in their first year, but the highly-experienced California Roots organization based out of Monterey, which will be celebrating 10 years of success this May, was able to spread their brand successfully to Arizona February 9-10, 2019. Arizona Roots featured some of the top reggae talents with headliners like Stick Figure, Dispatch, Trevor Hall and Rebelution, among other artists. Some reggae enthusiasts traveled from nearby neighboring states while others traveled from as far as the Dakotas. “I’m stoked the Cali Roots crew decided to start another festival and pick a different month because traveling during Memorial Day weekend is expensive,” said festival attendee, Mark Smart, from South Dakota. The festival boasted 5 individual experience levels to make your weekend as memorable as possible. They ranged from General Admission to Platinum VIP, which gave festival goers access to raised viewing platforms, private restrooms, catered meals with the bands, and complimentary drinks.

It is no surprise the headliners were the highlight of the event; you could almost feel the whole Rawhide Western Town teeming with excitement as crowds began to descend toward the main stage to see Trevor Hall. The brisk desert air didn’t deter the crowd but instead initiated warm conversations between strangers as people flocked to the outdoor heaters located around the stage to stay warm while enjoying the show. As the sun began to sink lower in the sky, a chorus of voices rose up singing along to Trevor Hall’s Lime Tree and everywhere you looked you saw relaxed smiles, bright eyes and positive vibes. J Boog took the stage after Trevor Hall and played a phenomenal set as a striking Arizona sunset lit up the sky behind the main stage. The clouded sky soon gave way to big, bright stars as festival goers danced and sung to music of Atmosphere and Rebelution. The fun didn’t stop there as all attendees were given access to the two night on-site after party which kept the crowd groovin’ to the musical stylings of various artist such as Dem Atlas, The Lioness, and Mellow Psychedelic Culture into the wee hours of the night.

Movement of Jah People Art Car at AZ Roots Festival
Movement of Jah People Art Car at AZ Roots Festival

Aside from the musical headliners, Arizona Roots hosted a number of artists and vendors. The vendor booths sold everything from CBD edibles to licensed Grateful Dead merchandise, while various artists live-painted murals. 8-time Burning Man art car, Movement of Jah People, greeted festival goers as they entered the venue. For those of you who have never seen Movement of Jah People, it has two levels, a built in bathroom, and a large metal roaring lion head covering the front of the vehicle. The tongue features a bench that seats two! MoJP’s second story allowed attendees unparalleled views of the stages and the beautiful Phoenix landscape. The lion’s head is covered in small Burning Man symbols that were plasma cut into the sheet metal, those drops were then given out to participants during the art car’s first few years on the playa. “You could own a piece of the art car,” remarks owner and Arizona local, Ian Liljeblad. Aside from cruising around Burning Man for the past 8 years, MoJP has been in a number of parades and hopes to frequent other regional burns and festivals.

Big Willy Art Car at AZ Roots Festival
Big Willy Art Car at AZ Roots Festival

Liljeblad also brought his recent creation and new art car: Big Willy. Big Willy is a replica of wartime Willy’s MB that is roughly two times the scale and is a fully functional trail-ready Jeep. If that wasn’t enough, Big Willy has been outfitted with pulsing LEDs that add a touch of spunk to this spot-on military replica. Between the blocks on the pedals that allow drivers to reach and the comically oversized steering wheel, climbing up into Big Willy’s driver seat will make you feel like a kid again. Thank you Ian for sharing your art with Arizona Roots!

If you find yourself looking for a reggae festival nestled in the desert mountains, Arizona Roots should be number 1 on your list, but don’t take my word for it, come check it out for yourself!