Resistance Movements In Music: On The Ground At Standing Rock And Beyond With Chloe Smith & Lyla June

first_imgWith the fierceness and grace befitting a revolutionary empress, Chloe Smith stands firmly with her sisters in resistance, and in solidarity with the movement. Her band Rising Appalachia have long made their voices heard on many matters of social justice, lioness sistren fronting the squad, their siren songs supremely effective in raising the collective awareness, be it about eco-consciousness or human rights. One half of the dynamic sibling duo is the eloquent and affable Ms. Smith. Growing up with sister Leah Song in Atlanta, GA, the pair are daughters to a musical mother and sculptor/painter father. They migrated through halcyon days making tunes by busking and gigging their way through New Orleans, before departing their beloved Crescent City and decamping to the progressive enclave of Asheville, NC.Chloe became confidently aware during adolescence that her heart and mind were attuned to some critical causes. Over the past decade, she has stepped into the spotlight impassioned by her activism, it’s been a fuel to propel her career as a recording/touring artist. Focusing on alternative touring practices, as well as Prison Yoga Project, and Slow Music Movement,  Smith and her cohorts in Rising Appalachia have walked the activist walk from jumpstreet. An anti-establishment vein has always run rampant through folk music’s cultural circuitry. Smith, Song and company are at the forefront of the resistance, and are leaders of this new school of progressive action in the music scene.Enter Poet/MC/Writer/Educator Lyla June Johnston – an uplifting and inspiring woman, hardened by life’s cruel realities, yet cut from many a righteous cloth. She is a student of global cycles of violence that eventually gave rise to The Native American Holocaust, and the destruction of many cyclic relationships between human beings and nature. This exploration gave birth to her passion for revitalizing spiritual relationships with Mother Earth, and cultivating spaces for forgiveness and reconciliation to occur between cultural groups. Lyla June is anthropologist, and economist; she is artist and community organizer. Like her ancestors, she strives to make “every breath a prayer.” She lives by a philosophy built on a foundation of health and peace established for the next seven generations to come.Lyla June was raised in Taos, New Mexico and is a descendant of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages. She states that her personal mission in life is “to grow closer to Creator by learning how to love deeper.” This prayer has sent her on many an inspired and influential journey, and the hymn materializes in myriad ways; one of them being her collaborations and connections to Rising Appalachia, and by proxy this conversation with Chloe Smith, and Live for Live Music.The thread at the center of our discussion is activism through music, and Lyla June and Chloe open up about their motivations, efforts individual and collaborative, and their respective roles in the movement. They also both relate their experiences to/in Standing Rock, and the Dakota Access Pipeline, no doubt a hot-button, sensitive, and controversial topic. For those of you reading this article who may have been sleeping under a rock for the past year or so, let’s catch everybody up on the basics concerning this sad and serious situation. These are the facts, without prejudice, as we understand them today, in February 2017:The Standing Rock Sioux and environmental activists have bitterly opposed the $3.8 billion Energy Transfer Partners pipeline under the Missouri River, fearing a pipeline leak would destroy the tribe’s only source of drinking water and contaminate the supply for millions of people who live downstream from the pipe crossing. The Sioux have also tried to preserve cultural and religious landmarks spread throughout the area, some of which they say have already been destroyed by pipeline construction. Thousands of people have cycled through the encampments since the protest was launched in April 2016, including non-Native activists who oppose fossil fuels as an energy source because it contributes to climate change. In the final days of Barack Obama’s presidency the White House put construction on hold pending further assessments, and for a moment the protesters believed they had won. Crowds lit off fireworks on the snow-swamped prairie of North Dakota. But everything changed with the arrival of President Donald Trump. Within days of taking office, he issued an executive memorandum on 24 January calling for the pipeline to proceed. Two weeks later, the president’s order was obliged, and the Corps granted the easement. For the Sioux people who opposed this venture and the coalition of 200 tribal nations that joined them, this development is a crushing blow. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said earlier this month it will greenlight the final phase of construction for the Dakota Access pipeline, prompting indigenous-led water protectors to call for a “last stand”. In a letter to Congress, acting Army Secretary Robert Speer said the Army Corps will cancel an environmental impact study of the Dakota Access pipeline and will grant an easement today allowing Energy Transfer Partners to drill under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. The Army Corps also said it would suspend a customary 14-day waiting period following its order, meaning the company could immediately begin boring a tunnel for the final one-and-a-half miles of pipe.  The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said it is undaunted in its commitment to challenge an easement announcement by the U.S. Department of the Army for the Dakota Access Pipeline. “The drinking water of millions of Americans is now at risk. We are a sovereign nation and we will fight to protect our water and sacred places from the brazen private interests trying to push this pipeline through to benefit a few wealthy Americans with financial ties to the Trump administration,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “Americans have come together in support of the Tribe asking for a fair, balanced and lawful pipeline process. The environmental impact statement was wrongfully terminated. This pipeline was unfairly rerouted across our treaty lands. The Trump administration – yet again – is poised to set a precedent that defies the law and the will of Americans and our allies around the world.” Source: BBCOur conversation took place in mid-January 2017, so after the short-lived “victory” of the Obama ruling, and around the time that Donald Trump was being inaugurated, just before he gave the virtual go-ahead for the pipeline to be completed. Despite an apparent “loss” at this dire stand-off, the reverberations of the protests can and should be felt, in any and every direction. This is a story that remains relevant, as the people must show their continued, unwavering vigilance in this matter, and all matters that threaten our beloved planet. This a dialogue between two queens, two servants to Mother Earth, a pair of spiritual warriors; the virtues espoused are concepts of cross-cultural organizing, activating, and healing, through medicinal music and the networks that surround the songs. These discussions are as salient and necessary as ever; we will continue to wake the activist leviathan within women (and stoke the conscious, heart-filled flame that burns inside of all peoples), we bring to you this conversation between Chloe Smith of Rising Appalachia, Native American activist emcee Lyla June Johnston.Thank you both for taking the time to speak with me on some sensitive and important matters. Live for Live Music is grateful for the chance to discuss these trying and turbulent times. Chloe Smith, please allow me to start with you and some background, or context. L4LM: When, or how, did Rising Appalachia become an activist band? Chloe Smith: Leah and I both were “activists” before we were Rising Appalachia. As in, we were elbow deep in educational/environmental/cultural preservation work first, and once music took the reins on our lives, the two naturally cross pollinated. Our music became a platform to express the deeper desires of healthy communities and stewardship for the wild. My father always told me not to make art for art’s sake, to put some grit and purpose behind it. I take that to heart every day that I show up for this strange enticing career/passion.L4LM: We can hear it in your melodies. We feel it in the music and we receive the message. I myself, as a fan first, have been made aware of many social justice causes and environmental movements through Rising Appalachia’s involvement. From permaculture to touring by train, you spotlight a lot of progressive ideas and values.CS: Now, one of our sweetest evolutions is with something we call The Slow Music Movement, which is a conjoining of many of our passions outside of the great hustle of traditional touring (train travel, prison justice work, youth education, permaculture action days, earth building and architecture, nonviolent communication, plant-lore and herbalism, etc.) Our work with Rising Appalachia continues to be an ever evolving relationship with both music as muse and music as gathering tool. We are constantly learning how to move the movement off the stage and into the ground.  How to show up responsibly and effectively to the places we are invited to.  How to be vessels of a larger story.  We most certainly do not know the answers, but instead are living the questions both privately and publicly and invite our fans to do the same in their own lives.  We are all teachers and students, speakers and listeners, leaders and followers.L4LM: Solidarity with the movement has brought you into orbit with one Lyla June Johnston, activist emcee, journalist, writer, poet, spiritual guide. Before we go any further let’s bring her into the conversation now. Lyla June, thank you for making the time to speak with L4LM.For those of us not in the know, we are interested in your journey- artistic, activist, personal, and whatever you would be so kind to share, so that our readers can get a bit of a frame of reference for Lyla June.Lyla June: When I try to describe myself, I immediately want to say that I’m just a woman who aches for a world with less hatred, less prejudice, less division and less violence upon women, children, the people and the land. This is the ultimate force that drives me from sun up to sun down. My life story is a bit too unmanageable to relay in a few short sentences, but suffice it to say that mine is a journey of tragedy and triumph. A journey of split families, drug and alcohol addiction, ample sexual, physical and emotional abuse, broken bones, broken heart and self-hatred into the eventual personal rebirth I enjoy today.I am now many years sober, many years safe, many years surrounded by inspired and uplifting individuals, and many years steeped in a deep self-love and self-respect I hold for myself today. All along the way, even in the darkest times, I used poetry and music as a way for me to affirm the love I sought for the world, even when I couldn’t find it for myself. My inspirations may sound kind of cliche, but I always gravitated towards those that responded to extreme hatred with extreme love: Tall Bull, Martin Luther King Jr., Sitting Bull, Princess Diane, Zarcillos Largos, Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Buddha, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, etc.As a Native American (Diné/Cheyenne) woman, I was born into a prime position to respond to great hatred with great love and forgiveness, for I was born into the horrific legacy of colonization. I enjoy this practice quite a bit. And so a lot of my time, focus and energy goes into contributing to Indigenous Liberation and also into forgiving and healing the racial and ideological divisions between settler and native populations. Despite my drug-filled adolescence and teenager-hood, I managed to get into Stanford University where I graduated with honors with a degree in environmental anthropology. I am currently studying education for native youth at the University of New Mexico.L4LM: Thank you Lyla for that inspiring introduction. We are already grateful for the work that you do, and I feel blessed to have you join in this conversation, too. Lyla, how did Rising Appalachia appear on your radar? What is the genesis of your collaboration?Lyla June: I was blessed to connect with Rising Appalachia and my sister Chloe Smith through their drummer, Biko Casini. I led the production of the Black Hills Unity Concert in 2015 in Piedmont, South Dakota, which included everyone who’s anyone in Native American music as well as emerging artists and voices in indigenous communities that need to be heard. We were blessed to have Biko’s presence. A few years later, because of Chloe, Leah and Biko’s prioritization of Indigenous Issues (thanks guys!), they raised money for a native youth program at a local show in Albuquerque. They saw one of my performance pieces and asked me to open their show the next day, which of course I was honored to offer.L4LM: Let’s talk a little bit about Standing Rock please. L4LM: Chloe, when Rising Appalachia played in Grass Valley in late November, there was a great deal of attention, focus, and prayer for Standing Rock throughout your spellbinding performance. Clearly it had already permeated deep into the consciousness of your band and your songs. How/when did you first learn of the DAPL situation in North Dakota?  CS: I first learned about the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance early in August when we were asked to spread the word about the group of youth from Standing Rock Reservation running from North Dakota to Washington D.C. to speak out about their water rights. We were on tour, of course, and began following that movement through our friends at Honor The Earth (Winona LaDuke), Lyla June, The Herbal Action Network, as well as Shailene Woodley’s call to actions. In line with many others, we raised awareness as best as we were able each night about Standing Rock as well as garnered support/ supplies for the camps through our social media each week. Our prayers and songs have been directed towards the waters of North Dakota (and our earth) in solidarity with the movement on the ground ever since.It’s really inspiring to hear of artists coming together through the strong fabric of activism, from the outside looking in, it tends to serve the artists’ creative process and spirit of collaboration mightily; as well as empower the people who are receiving the art. It awakens people to action through song. Really primordial stuff there, in its essence. Chloe, after the show in Grass Valley that night, you briefly let me know that you and Leah would be traveling to Standing Rock in a couple of days. Please tell our readers about your experiences there; your motivations, reservations, and the situation on the ground when you arrived.CS: Leah and I were initially hesitant to go to Standing Rock due to the efforts it was taking to keep the camps supplied and not over taxed by supporters only able to come for a few days. We felt compelled to fundraise and pray from afar and were ignited to keep the conversation at the center of many of our concerts across the country. It wasn’t until we got a direct invitation to come to Oceti Sakowen Camp that we actually felt that tide shift towards physically being in North Dakota. The Indigenous Youth Council, as well as our friend Lyla June, wanted to put on a female led concert featuring our dear friends Climbing Poetree, Sarah, Desiree Harp, and Rising Appalachia. We had four days off in the middle of this most recent Resiliency Tour which happened to fall on the exact same 4 days that Climbing Poetree had off that month. Thanksgiving week. After hearing the call for the concert and speaking to the other ladies, that insurmountable magnetic pull began playing its part and pulling us to Standing Rock.L4LM: Yes! The “Seventh Generation Medicine Concert.” People have wanted to hear more about this ever since the videos and photos surfaced in the weeks after the concert. Can we get both of you to share a bit on the whole thing: the intention, planning, music and message behind the event? Lyla: Our collective creation of the “Seventh Generation Medicine Concert” at the Standing Rock water protection camps was another way for us to redefine who we are. There were four major artists/groups: Desirae Harp (Native American singer), Saritah (Korean singer), Climbing Poetree (African American/Indigenous poetry duo), and Rising Appalachia (European-American/Indigenous bluegrass band). This is a very significant line-up from a Lakota perspective because the medicine wheel that guides all Lakota ceremony and daily life is made up of four quadrants: red, yellow, white and black. It has been interpreted by many Lakota elders that this symbol represents the unification of the races of humanity to make the hoop whole again. As the seventh generation from the time of major colonization on this continent, we are working to transform a culture of war into a people of peace, a people of unity and a people of justice. For this reason, myself and others (Joanna Cruz, Che Johnston and others) worked very hard to ensure that this concert would fly. I devised the name of the concert and the flyer, obtained the necessary equipment and found local hosts (the International Indigenous Youth Council), because I knew that the water protectors needed an injection of beauty and positivity after many weeks of abuse and police brutality. I wasn’t able to witness it unfold, but from all accounts it was a very special offering to the camps.CS: All was rather synchronized and surreal in panning out.  It began to bloom into a prayer much larger than ourselves. Surrender came. Solidarity took its strong arms and pulled us out of our tour haze and into the movement. As soon as we pulled over the little hill and saw Rosebud camp and the beautiful starkness of the landscape there, the tipis and smoke stacks and brightly painted banners and flags staked out in support… I was able to take my first deep breath.  Camp was beautiful.  Peaceful.  Well organized and in a constant state of prayer and spirit.  People immediately extended hands and embraces to welcome us.Sobriety was the first order. Compassion the next. Respect. Courtesy. Awareness. Nonviolent training. A different pace. Respect for elders and youth. Etc. We were shuffled into the Youth Council yurt that was warmed by wood stove and smiling faces of next generation leadership and stamina.  Intentions were shared by all sides of the concert visionaries.  Stories told in circles so that we were all aware where these relationships and connections were coming from. In 25 degree weather (this was BEFORE the blizzard), we walked to the central fire and began piecing together the microphones and wires needed to project our songs out to the people gathered… cold… some smiling… some saddened and weathered… all gorgeously unified and projecting the strength of service to the land.Someone had painted a bright colorful banner, “7th Generation Medicine Concert” with the four colors of the medicine wheel represented by our ancestry and hung it as a backdrop. The skies were steely grey and we had bags of hand warmers in all pockets to try and coax our fingers to play the right chords and not freeze in place.  We each sang 2 songs and then passed it to the next group, round robin style of sharing that women are so well versed at.  Our dear friend Lulu from Santa Cruz had packed up a huge duffel bag the night before of hundreds of organic hand crafted chocolate for us to bring to the concert, which was met with a rowdy yawp of delight as we sang Medicine and passed it around to the protectors.  Small pleasures in an intense setting.  Each person called to give something unique, to show up with their own truth and passion, their own story of forgiveness or resistance.What a powerful portrait you just painted with this potent recollection! Chloe, what were your experiences at Standing Rock like after Rising Appalachia’s musical offering? Take us through the rest of your sojourn. CS: In the days that came we gathered in warm tents and tipis with media folks and friends from across the country to hear stories and listen to what was needed.  What was changing.  What were successes and what were mistakes. Thanksgiving day we gathered with our friends Paul Stover Soderman and Phil Little Thunder and the Little Thunder family to listen to their story about ancestral trauma and healing through the renaming of Black Elk Peak. Our meal that evening was a 2 hour line at Rosebud camp to circle through the main kitchen and thank the people whom had been holding space there since the beginning of the noDAPL movement. No one ate until everyone had thanked them for their work and diligence and profound sacrifice for the health of all our water. It was a beautiful thing. That night we ate by the fire with the drums and songs drowning out any chatter, giving our greatest thanks to Standing Rock and the ripples it is creating in us all.What are some of the most powerful situations, lessons, or understandings from your time at Standing Rock?CS: I went to Standing Rock to be an ally to the water protectors on a “holiday” that holds historical weight for many people across this country. I went because I believe in the voices of the people to stand up against corporate greed and ask for more than just profit to be considered in the tactics of resource extraction and the necessary fueling of our economy and country. I went because water is sacred and we must be a voice for the voiceless, gathering in solidarity in the years to come to take action steps in what we believe in. I went because I was invited by the Youth Council to perform at the center fire with three other female groups, all representing the different colors of the medicine wheel, aspiring to uplift the spirits of the camp after the water cannon event took place the previous day.The Standing Rock prayer is bigger than pipelines and front line media drama. It has grown to showcase to the world a larger story of indigenous resiliency, nonviolence, national unity, forgiveness and resistance, ancestral healing, and many more deeply relative and poignant things. But we still want this win.  DAPL was rerouted when it was proposed to route just north of Bismarck due to citizen concern of water contamination there. Now that it has been rerouted through native land, we cannot be silent.I’ll never forget that medicine concert or the three days we gathered with friends new and old in North Dakota. I’ll never forget the elders around the fire holding deep space, the youth firing up the crowds with full integrity and grace.  The hoop songs sung by the young men to their sweethearts. The non-violent trainings and warm gathering spaces to connect and listen.  The riot cops on the hill above a thousand people praying by the river on thanksgiving day. The angels all around us. It was a honor to put our feet and our songs into that earth. May Standing Rock be an example to the whole world, no matter what happens with that damn pipeline.What are your plans to stay involved? How can your fans and friends join in the cause, specific to your involvement. CS: Depending on the turnings of the recent tides in regards to the Army Corps of Engineers… we remain diligent in keeping our eye on DAPL. Although there has been a recent victory, we all are aware that these things can be changed, ignored, or overturned. There is a Titan in the white house and fossil fuel addicts all over Congress. If there is a call for people to return to camp em masse…. we are open to that call. In the meantime, we encourage people to keep a keen eye out on both Standing Rock as well as their own local fracking and extraction industries and developments. In the years to come, its not looking like an easy road for our natural resources. Show up when you are able. Gather in community centers and learn what is going on in your backyards. Resist when it is called for. Complacency is no longer a national pastime.  That couldn’t be more clear.Thank you Chloe, for your passion and leadership, in song, emotion, and direct action. Lyla, please talk about some of your other endeavors and passions. Your poetry, and your music, as you are an emcee. The Nihigaal Bee iina Movement? Lyla: Honestly, poetry and music is something I do on the side, even though it’s what I am most known for. I do not want to limit myself to being a musician because singing the message is only half the battle: we must then live the message and build the message. It is important for me to remember that there are many ways I can change the world in addition to standing on a stage and helping people see the world in a different way.For this reason I have rolled up my sleeves in various ways and pulled in the trenches. For instance, I’m leading a group of about 30 Diné people in New Mexico and Arizona to create a summer school where we teach and learn traditional skills to revitalize our ancestral education systems. I also walked with a movement started by young Diné women called “Nihigaal Bee iina” (Our Journey for Existence). in the year 2015 we walked 1400 miles around our traditional territory as a prayer for our land, our language, our culture and our people.As I write now, I’m on a tour bus across the country playing shows for the #Earth2Trump movement hosted by the Center for Biological Diversity. We are garnering support in 16 cities from west to east until we finally reach the inauguration and ensure there are protectors of environmental stability through the next four years. I enjoy every minute of my service even when it is challenging. I am honored to work on parallel paths with wonderful musicians like Chloe and Leah and Biko. As a fellow MC and extraordinary human being, Wake Self, has said, “Let my soul be a song and my life be an instrument.”Conversation hosted by B.GetzSeventh Generation Medicine Concert video courtesy of Indigenous Rising Media Photos from Standing Rock courtesy of Leah SongPhotos of Lyla June used with her express written permission.last_img read more

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad & Swift Technique To Spread The Dub In NYC

first_imgEnter To Win Tickets Below! Spring is just around the corner, and there’s no better time to enjoy the chill vibes of reggae music. Thankfully, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad has announced that they will hit The Hall at MP in New York City on Thursday, April 27th for a sure-to-be awesome night of full-band improvisational roots, reggae, and dub music. Tickets can be found here.Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad is a force to be reckoned with, consistently turning in impressive live performances over the course of their sixteen-year career. They’ve performed all over the country, winning fans in every city they play, while impressing the masses at festivals like Mountain Jam, Peach Festival, Wakarusa and more. Recently, they’ve been blowing audiences away on tour in support of their album Make It Better, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard reggae chart. Their unique brand of reggae simply can’t be matched.Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad will be joined by special guests Swift Technique for the evening. Swift Technique have been making a name for themselves in the Northeast recently, having headlined American Beauty NYC, opening for The Werks at Brooklyn Bowl, and landing a coveted support slot opening for The Disco Biscuits in their hometown at The Fillmore Philadelphia. They’ll keep the good times rolling with a set of the high-octane power funk that defines their sound.See below for full show info and artwork for Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Swift Technique at The Hall at MP!– SHOW INFO –Artist: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad w/ Special Guest Swift TechniqueVenue: The Hall at MP, 470 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211Price: $15adv / $20dos (purchase tickets here)Time: Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PMlast_img read more

Tedeschi Trucks Band Shares Intimate Dressing-Room Rendition Of “All My Friends”

first_imgAt the end of February and beginning of March, Tedeschi Trucks Band laid out a four-night, two-weekend residency at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. During their time there, the soulful twelve-piece recorded a special tribute to friends who’ve passed away with a beautiful cover of “All My Friends”. Originally penned by Scott Boyer, “All My Friends” first appeared on Cowboy‘s 1971 album, 5’ll Getcha Ten, later gaining even more fame with its appearance on Gregg Allman’s debut solo album, Laid Back, which was released in October of 1973.“All My Friends” was an appropriate choice for Tedeschi Trucks Band, who shared the video noting it was recorded with “memories of Gregg, Scott Boyer, and other dearly departed friends on their minds.” Tedeschi Trucks Band, as a major group within the extended and immediate Allman Brothers Band family, has felt the losses of musical icons heavily in the last few years. Gregg Allman, Col. Bruce Hampton, Butch Trucks all passed away last year, with Scott Boyer leaving this world in February of this year.Up until this February, Tedeschi Trucks Band had rarely played the Scott Boyer original. Following Boyer’s death on February 13th of this year, the group began reworking the song into their touring catalog, first playing it during their Valentine’s Day show at Red Bank, New Jersey’s Count Basie Theatre. The band would go onto play it three more times in February, with their last live performance of the cover falling on February 28th during a performance in Jackson, Mississippi.Tedeschi Trucks Band’s heartfelt and intimate backstage-rendition of “All My Friends” at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium was recorded as part of Shure‘s MOTIV Sessions, which features “Shure Artist Endorsers in unique locations recorded exclusively with MOTIV™ products and iOS devices.” You can take a listen to Tedeschi Trucks Band’s take on “All My Friends” below.last_img read more

WinterWonderGrass Steamboat Annnounces 2019 Lineup With Trampled By Turtles, Railroad, & The Stringdusters

first_imgIn February of 2019, WinterWonderGrass will return to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for its seventh-annual event. Scheduled for February 22nd through 24th, today, the fan-favorite winter bluegrass and roots festival has announced its initial lineup, including headliners Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, and The Infamous Stringdusters.In addition to these three big-name headliners, WinterWonderGrass Steamboat has curated a characteristically strong down bill. The festival will also see performances by The California Honeydrops, Fruition, Billy Strings, The Lil Smokies, Della Mae with Bonnie Paine, Jeff Austin Band, the Shook Twins, Lindsay Lou, Love Canon, River Whyless, Pixie and the Partygrass Boys, Pickin’ on the Dead, Town Mountain, Rapidgrass, Upstate, Wood Belly, The Sweet Lillies, Chain Station, Tenth Mountain Division, The Lonesome Days, Jay Roemer Band, and Buffalo Commons.As Scotty Stoughton, founder of WinterWonderGrass, explained in a statement,Steamboat is now one of my homes, and that has permeated down into my team. The love, support, and appreciation we feel from the community inspires us to make the City proud. We always set out to develop WinterWonderGrass with our host towns as a partnership, relying on each other to deliver an outstanding experience for locals, and the guests that work so hard to make the pilgrimage. It’s beyond an honor to continue to build the legacy of the original WinterWonderGrass in Colorado.Tickets for WinterWonderGrass’ upcoming 2019 edition in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, go on sale today, September 25th. The festival is offering three-day general admission and VIP tickets, as well as packages that contain tickets to the Steamboat festival as well as its other festival locations in Vermont and California. For more information and for ticketing, head to the festival’s website here.last_img read more

Fishing for new medications

first_imgA robust new technique for screening drugs’ effects on zebrafish behavior is pointing Harvard scientists toward unexpected compounds and pathways that may govern sleep and wakefulness in humans.Among their more intriguing findings, described this week in the journal Science: Various anti-inflammatory agents in the immune system, long known to induce sleep during infection, may also shape normal sleep/wake cycles.The new research identifies several compounds with surprising effects on sleep and wakefulness in zebrafish. But it also suggests that despite the evolutionary gap between them, zebrafish and mammals may be strikingly similar in the neurochemistry underlying their rest/wake cycles, meaning these same compounds may prove effective in people.“Many current drug discovery efforts rely on screening conducted outside the body,” says Alexander F. Schier, professor of molecular and cellular biology. “Although such screens can be successful, they cannot recreate the complex neuroscience of entire organisms. These limitations are particularly acute for behavior-altering drugs because brain activity cannot be modeled in a Petri dish or test tube.”Together with postdoctoral fellows Jason Rihel and David Prober, Schier and other collaborators used their automated screening technique to monitor zebrafish sleep and wakefulness for two days following administration of some 5,600 compounds, creating more than 60,000 distinct behavioral profiles. By applying clustering algorithms to organize these molecules, the researchers identified 463 drug candidates that significantly altered rest and wakefulness, many of which had not previously been known to have such effects.“For instance, we found that a diverse set of anti-inflammatory compounds increased wakefulness during the day, with much less effect at night,” Schier says. “Although these compounds have long been known to promote sleep during infection, this is an indication that the molecules that regulate the immune system may also play a role in setting normal daytime activity levels.”Anti-inflammatory agents found to affect sleep/wake cycles included cytokines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and the immunosuppressant cyclosporine. Schier and colleagues also found calcium channel inhibitors that increased rest with minimal effects on waking behavior and a class of potassium channel blockers found in a wide variety of drugs — including antimalarials, antipsychotics, and antihistamines — that selectively increased wakefulness at night without affecting total rest.“Behavioral profiling reveals nuanced relationships between drugs and their targets,” Schier says. “It can characterize large classes of compounds and reveal differences in effectiveness, potential side effects, and combinatorial properties that might not otherwise be detected.”Schier and his colleagues plan to expand their zebrafish screening to include many more uncharacterized compounds and to assay behaviors that, in humans, are associated with psychiatric disorders.Schier’s additional co-authors on the are Anthony Arvanites, Kelvin Lam, Steven Zimmerman, Sumin Jang, and Lee L. Rubin, all at Harvard; Stephen J. Haggerty of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital; David Kokel of Massachusetts General Hospital; and Randall T. Peterson of the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School.The work was funded by the Life Sciences Research Foundation, the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Stanley Medical Research Institute, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience.last_img read more

When to alter cancer screenings

first_imgNot only is it important for physicians to be fully informed about any cancer in their patients’ family histories, but a massive new study led by a Harvard researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and a University of California scientist indicates that it is important to update that history whenever there are contemporaneous changes in it.While it has long been known that family history is among the most important determinants of an individual’s risk of cancer and the details of that history — whether and at what ages close relatives were diagnosed with particular tumors — can affect recommendations for screening examinations such as colonoscopies and mammograms, the results of the study in the July 13 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) show that changes in family history significant enough to alter screening recommendations are common in adults ages 30 to 50.“We wanted to find out whether changes in a person’s family history of cancer, over time, would affect the screening schedule and tests recommended by standard guidelines,” says Dianne Finkelstein, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health who is associated with the MGH Biostatistics Center and a corresponding author of the JAMA report. “The results of our study could guide how often health care providers should update their patients’ family histories.”The study investigators are all members of the National Cancer Institute-funded Cancer Genetics Network (CGN), which involves 14 academic medical centers in the U.S. Established in 1998, the CGN is a registry of thousands of individuals with a personal or family history of cancer. The researchers analyzed both the detailed family history information participants reported upon enrollment in the network — which reflected their cancer risk up until that time — and the updated information they provided on an annual basis over an average of eight years.Analysis focused on colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer, since the established screening guidelines for those common tumors can be affected by family history. For example, a 42-year-old woman with no family history of colorectal cancer would be recommended to have her first colonoscopy at age 50 and a repeat exam every 10 years. But if her 46-year-old brother is diagnosed with that cancer, the guidelines would call for her to have an immediate colonoscopy that should be repeated every five years. Women with a family history of breast cancer may need to add breast MRIs to their routine mammograms.Sufficient data to determine risk of those three tumors were available for more than 11,000 CGN participants. Examining both the retrospective and prospective information reported by participants revealed that, between ages 30 and 50, the percentage of participants whose risk of colorectal cancer increased enough to affect screening recommendations more than tripled. Similarly the percentage of women in that age group with a change in breast cancer risk that would call for breast MRI increased almost 60 percent. A smaller but still significant increase in prostate cancer risk was seen in men ages 30 to 50.The investigators note that, in addition to taking comprehensive family histories of new patients, primary care physicians or other health care providers should update those histories every five to 10 years, particularly for patients between the ages of 30 and 50. “We hope this new information will help educate physicians to more frequently ask patients these important questions,” says Sharon Plon, a professor of both pediatrics and molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine and senior author of the JAMA report. “As most health care systems are moving toward the use of electronic health records, there is tremendous potential to ensure that people at higher risk of cancer are being screened earlier and using the best methods.”Plon notes that patients can also take it upon themselves to inform their providers of significant changes. “Many patients make lists of questions for the doctor before their appointments, and we hope they add changes to their family history to those lists. Our results are relevant for all patients, since anyone may have a change that would affect their cancer screening recommendations.”Finkelstein adds, “Patients should be aware which of their close relatives have had cancer, the location or organ where the cancer started, and the age at which the relative was first diagnosed with cancer.”Co-lead authors of the JAMA report are Argyrios Ziogas of the University of California, Irvine, and Nora Horick of MGH Biostatistics Center.last_img read more

Jasanoff lectures as Sarton Chair

first_imgSheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies and director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Society at the Harvard Kennedy School, is the 2010-11 Sarton Chair in History of Science at Ghent University, Belgium. Jasanoff is the first Harvard scholar to receive this distinction. The chair honors the life and work of the late George Sarton, a pioneer in history of science who served on Harvard’s history of science faculty for many years. As this year’s Sarton chair, Jasanoff gave two lectures in Ghent on Oct. 27 and 28, which will be published in the annual journal Sartoniana.For more information on the Sarton Chair.last_img

On the Cutting Edge of History – Innovation at Harvard

first_imgJeremy Geidt, lecturer on dramatic arts and senior actor at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), recounts a few memorable moments in Harvard’s history. From the first intercollegiate athletic event, to the creation and continued refining of the case method, to the invention of the iron lung, members of the Harvard community have long been at the cutting edge of discoveries in a wide variety of fields.last_img

When skin cancer cells resist drug treatment

first_imgOne of cancer’s most frightening characteristics is its ability to return after treatment. In the case of many forms of cancer, including the skin cancer known as melanoma, tailored drugs can eradicate cancer cells in the lab, but often produce only partial, temporary responses in patients. Thus the burning question in the field of cancer research remains: How does cancer evade drug treatment?New research by a team from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and Harvard affiliates Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) suggests that some of the answers to this question do not lie in cancer cells themselves. To find the answers, scientists are looking beyond tumor cells, studying the interplay between cancer cells and their healthy counterparts. The research team has found that normal cells that reside within the tumor, part of the tumor microenvironment, may supply factors that help cancer cells grow and survive despite the presence of anti-cancer drugs. These findings appear online this week in a paper published in Nature.“Historically, researchers would go to great lengths to pluck out tumor cells from a sample and discard the rest of the tissue,” said senior author Todd Golub, director of the Broad’s Cancer Program and Charles A. Dana Investigator in Human Cancer Genetics at the DFCI. Golub is also a professor at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “But what we’re finding now is that those nontumor cells that make up the microenvironment may be an important source of drug resistance.”To investigate how the tumor microenvironment may contribute to drug resistance, the researchers designed experiments in which cancer cells were grown in the same wells (miniscule test tubes no larger than a pencil eraser) along with normal cells. These co-cultured cells were then treated with anti-cancer drugs. When grown alone, such cancer cells died in the presence of many of these targeted agents, but when grown together with normal cells, cancer cells developed resistance to more than half of the 23 agents tested.These observations reflect what clinicians often see in patients with cancers such as melanoma. In the case of melanoma, targeted therapies have been developed against a specific, common mutation in a gene known as BRAF. While some patients’ tumors show an overwhelming response to BRAF inhibitors and seem to disappear, other patients’ tumors only respond by slightly decreasing in size. The failure to shrink tumors at the outset suggests that those tumors possess some level of innate resistance — the ability to evade drugs from the beginning of treatment.“Even though recent advances in targeted therapy have caused tremendous excitement in melanoma, the fact remains that drug resistance eventually develops in nearly all metastatic melanomas treated with BRAF inhibitors, and in some cases is present at the outset of treatment,” said Levi A. Garraway, a senior associate member of the Broad Institute and an associate professor at DFCI and HMS.“There are many different types of mechanisms that tumors may hijack to circumvent the effects of therapy … no single experimental approach can capture all of these potential mechanisms,” Garraway continued. “Thus, the application of complementary approaches can offer considerable synergy in terms of discovering the full spectrum of clinically relevant resistance mechanisms.”Scientists have uncovered resistance mechanisms that cancer cells develop over time — genetic changes in specific genes that may give cancer the ability to overcome the effects of a drug with time — but these acquired resistance mechanisms do not explain the innate resistance seen in many tumors.“We can take cancer cells out of a melanoma patient, put them on a dish, and most times they will turn out to be extremely sensitive to the targeted agents, but that’s not what we see in patients,” said Ravid Straussman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute and first author of the Nature paper. “Why do we get just a partial response in most patients? We set out to dissect this question, and the next logical step was to think beyond cancer cells.”After completing systematic, high-throughput screens of more than 40 cancer cell lines, the researchers chose to focus on melanoma, looking at whether factors normal cells secrete help cancer cells resist treatment. They measured more than 500 secreted factors and found that the factor most closely linked to BRAF inhibitor drug resistance was hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). HGF interacts with the MET receptor, abnormal activation of which has been tied to tumor growth in previous studies but never to drug resistance in melanoma.In addition to studying cells in the lab, the research team sought to replicate their findings in samples from cancer patients. Keith Flaherty, director of developmental therapeutics at MGH Cancer Center and an associate professor at HMS, and his lab provided 34 patient samples for study. The team measured levels of HGF in these samples and saw a relationship between how much HGF was present and the amount of tumor shrinkage patients experienced. For example, tumors in patients with high levels of HGF shrank less than those in patients with low HGF levels.“To try to explore in patient samples what factors in the microenvironment are not only present but functionally important in drug resistance would have been largely impossible. Coming up with candidates in the lab and then exploring relevance in humans in a targeted way is the only tractable approach,” said Flaherty. “By taking this high-throughput screening, hypothesis-generating approach, we could then follow up by looking at patient samples. In a case like melanoma, where you already have a targeted therapy available, it puts you on good footing to narrow in on specific factors that may be at play in drug resistance.”Several HGF/MET inhibitors are in clinical development or are FDA-approved for other indications, making clinical trials combining these inhibitors with BRAF inhibitors feasible in the future. In addition, researchers could follow the same approach taken by the team to screen other drugs currently in development, identifying mechanisms of resistance and ways to counter them even before treatment begins.“Drug resistance should no longer surprise us,” said Golub. “We’re thinking about how to do this — how to systematically dissect resistance — much earlier in the drug development process so that by the time a new drug enters the clinic, we have a good sense of what the likely mechanisms of resistance will be and have a strategy to combat them.”This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Cancer Institute grants, and a Melanoma Research Alliance Team Science Award.last_img read more