The music scene in Denver is constantly evolving, and the newest trend trend seems to be combining volunteerism and concerts.
Earth Night was founded by Jason Takahashi, starting as his senior thesis in college. Since 2012, the event has made its home in Columbus, Ohio, but has traveled to other cities over the years.
On December 9 and 10, Earth Night came to Denver for the second time since 2014.
Takahashi’s initial goal was to develop a way to bring people together and address planetary issues and policies. The band Papadosio, who are friends of Takahashi's, agreed to play a show for the first Earth Night as a benefit and have been the headlining artist for the event ever since. While the festival changes year to year, an Earth Night weekend will typically consist of music, educational workshops, live painting and an opportunity to give back to the local community.
“The intention is definitely to ignite the sense of celebration and curiosity, even in times when it’s dark and cold,” Takahashi explains. “It’s easy in the winter to sometimes lose sight of what makes us really happy as humans. Earth Night gives us an opportunity to put together a special show that inspires but also sheds light on other people in our community and lives that are doing powerful work, and encourage others to get involved. It’s kind of like a futuristic, scientific yet secular-style holiday with indigenous and tribal roots and undertones…which, considering it’s the 21st century, seems fitting.”
A yoga practice at Samadhi Center for Yoga soundtracked by Anthony Thogmartin of Papadosio, who also performs as EarthCry, kicked off the weekend in Denver. On Saturday afternoon, the Advocates of Change hosted a Volunteer Action Day where volunteers participated in a holiday crafts sale hosted by A Little Something (Denver Refugee Women Craft Initiative). Daytime festivities on both Friday and Saturday concluded with performances by Papadosio and guests TNERTLE, Wildlight and Templo.
“The whole music culture began because there was a social movement first,” Thogmartin explains. “It isn’t just about us, or it isn’t just about the music. It’s about what the culture wants. These people are passionate, and you can embrace that and take that passion and direct that toward something.”
Takahashi picks bands that inspire him, like Wildlight. In 2014, bandmembers David Sulgalski and Ayla Nereo hosted a tour during which concert-goers were invited to participate in conversations about sustainability, food justice and ecology before the shows.
Takahashi hopes to spread the Earth Night celebration even further in years to come. He wants to
figure out how to grow Earth Night into something similar to Earth Day, which is recognized worldwide.
Thogmartin believes there is momentum in the music community to support and expand upon events like Earth Night.
“I feel like the soul of [the music culture] can be restored by trying to tie [social movements and
music] together and giving this culture that voice that it needs,” Thogmartin says. “If you want to call it the counterculture, you could, but there is definitely a necessity for continuing the discussion that those social, action-based events used to do [in the late ’60s]. I think that there’s a desire in the artist community to try and reinvigorate that.”