Utne Blogs > Arts and Culture

RNC: Ripple Effect Festival

by Jake Mohan 


Tags: Arts, RNC, Republican National Convention, politics, activism, music,

The words “music festival” invite rain, and Tuesday was no exception as Ripple Effect, a drizzly but celebratory arts and activism festival, took shape on the Minnesota State Capitol lawn, in jubilant defiance of the convention happening at the bottom of the hill.

The local jam band Wookiefoot was first, featuring the Orthodox Jewish rapper Matisyahu guesting on vocals. Until Tuesday I had been under the (grateful) impression that jam bands fell out of vogue when Phish broke up, but the fervent crowd emphatically proved me wrong, and I was suddenly surrounded by a magnitude of dreadlocks and hemp clothing I haven’t experienced since my college days.

wookiefoot 

During one break between songs, the lead singer addressed the Wookiefoot faithful thusly: “You have heeded the call … the call for all Jedi to galactivate!” Whatever language he was speaking, the audience took it to heart.

tall guy 

mother and child 

Still, my uninitiated tastes and the intermittent rain were not about to dampen the spirits of the festival participants. There were a number of tents offering political and spiritual shwag, and numerous artistic assemblages, such as this flower art that passerby were invited to help sculpt:

flower art

There was also an elegant and affecting memorial comprising some footwear of those killed in the Iraq war:

shoe circle
soldier shoes

And not just fallen soldiers, but civilians too: 

kids shoes 

All told, Ripple Effect seemed a tentative success. The crowd I observed was well short of the 7,000-10,000 people Substance had anticipated, but after I left things apparently gained momentum, as the crowd swelled and the Establishment crashed the party.

For more coverage of the event and links to featured artists, speakers, and groups, visit the Ripple Effect website.

Images courtesy of the author.

For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Republican National Convention, click here.