Colors From Rothbury

Colors From Rothbury

For the second year in a row more than 30,000 people descended into the Rothbury Music Festival set against the scenic backdrop of Michigan's west coast and hidden amongst the forest on the land of Double JJ Ranch. Besides music, Rothbury invites a number of found object artists and runs a series of panel discussions with leading entrepreneurs and scientists. Together, they transform the grounds with natural mandalas and epic shrines, all made from found objects collected from the grounds and around Michigan, and create a thoughtful dialog about sustainability. Bringing these two sides to the festival together is the "passion based" organization Our Future Now, which sets to spread environmental and social awareness by combining art, science and community.

Art Installations

Emerald Installations is made up of Scott O'Keefe, Christopher Reitmaier and Nateure (a person), and, well, nature (actual nature) as well, since they only use found and donated objects, many of which are given by the trees and plants.

The group, lead by Scott, has been invited to Coachella, UofC Berkley, Joshua Tree Festival and other institutions and festivals to reshape the natural environment, inspiring attendees to take a moment and realize their surroundings and themselves, for that matter.

Emerald_Installation bottle_cap_shaman

Shrine (website under construction), with the help of his team of many, is the man behind the major installations and one of the stage designs at this, and last, year's Rothbury Festival.

Traveling from his home in California, Shrine arrived in Michigan weeks before the festival's start with only a screw gun and a paint brush. Collecting waste from northern points of Michigan and making his way down through the state, gathering forgotten relics of human behavior all the while, he arrives at Double JJ Ranch to erect works of epic proportions and begin a dialog that echos throughout the festival.

Shrine has been a freelance artist for over twenty years.



Ben Stonberg was another one of the artists whose work help define the environment of this year's Rothbury Festival. His sculptures were a prominent feature of Reincarnation, an area off the main path where you could find many of the natural found object installations amongst a maze of landscaped trails and hidden gathering areas. Ben's Boot, Bell and Buddha were some of the highlights of his work on display, proving that as long as the subject of his sculptures start with the same letter as his first name, it will be good.

More Installations



Rothbury was not short when it came to what is traditionally the biggest draw to such a festival, music. The festival brought in not only Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Les Claypool and the classic jam bands The String Cheese Incident and The Dead, but newer acts like Man Man, Broken Social Scene and Chromeo to compliment the line-up.

While only in its second year Rothbury might not yet have the clout of other festival such as Bonnaroo and Coachella, but the beauty of the grounds, the thoughtful discussions and interactions, along with smaller crowds and plenty of shade made Rothbury a great festival experience.

willies_bus bob_dylan-rothbury

man_man drum

Scenes from the Grounds Of Rothbury

"Make small changes now, or be forced to make large sacrifices later." - Speaker at Rothbury's Think Tank.

Speaking with Michael Kang, co-founder of Our Future now and member of The String Cheese Incident, he calls the organization "passion based," and tells me that what they hope to accomplish through their events (Rothbury being one), off-site installations (Solar School), and artists (musicians and visual artists), is self empowerment, awareness and knowledge of small tangible steps that can be taken now to help create a healthier environment.

The manifestation of those ideals at Rothbury: the festival's commitment of zero waste, a requirement of all festival vendors to use only compostable cups, plates, and utensils, and encouraged recycling by matching every “landfill (trash) can” with a recycle can & compost can.

HammockInTheForest rothbury_green


Sherwood Forest

It's as if Tim Burton is curating your weekend.

The light installations in Sherwood forest completely transform the surroundings, saturating every tree in color and revealing unwordly objects that glow as if they have a power source of their own. At each entrance to the forest you are welcomed by giant inflatable objects with bold stripes and points that remind me of the sets of Beetle Juice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. And just when you've completely lost your sense of visual expectations and all your senses are overwhelmed, you arrive at the main stage holding a crowd of 30,000 people watching The String Cheese Incident; a barrage of glow sticks shooting through the air as a stream of inflatable balls rolls from each side of the stage and makes their way through the crowd masked in patterns and palettes of light.




Photos by Gwen Harley & David Sommers unless noted otherwise.

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Showing 1 - 7 of 7 Comments
wow, very dreamy! :)
Great! I want to go there!
maaaan this is cool! do want!
Very attractive place, Rothbury seems fabulous enjoyable place, thanks for sharing
Very cool! Do want too!!

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