In CO+nversation: Phoenix Roebuck

When Phoenix Roebuck played the 2017 O+ Festival, they weren’t quite sure what to expect. At the time, they were playing upright bass as part of the folk/Americana duo Roebuck with their then-partner Phil and had been introduced to the festival through a friend and longtime Kingston resident Brandy Walters.

“She said, ‘You know, it’s free healthcare,” Phoenix recalls. “And I remember thinking that we could definitely use some free healthcare.”

Back then, Phoenix says they were overdue to have their wisdom teeth removed but had delayed the procedure because they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the dental work. During the festival weekend (and the day before Roebuck played their set) Phoenix went to see Dr. Tom Cingle to get those teeth out.

“It was such an amazing and incredible experience,” Phoenix said, adding with a laugh that they insisted on keeping the teeth afterward. “I kept them in a little jar that I wear on a necklace as a token and a reminder of like, ‘This was my payment for a festival I played in New York!’”

Throughout the three-day festival, Phoenix was able to access some other preventive services at the Artists’ Clinic, like a hearing exam and physical, in addition to complementary care like massage and acupuncture, all of which had previously been out of reach for them as a working musician.

“Being an artist of any kind is an incredibly challenging thing in our society here. It’s something that everybody wants to have – they want art, they want music, they want performance – but they don’t want to compensate people for [it], or help take care of them,” they said.

“O+ was one of the first spaces where I felt that it was really possible to have a world, this community of artists and society really co-existing and supporting each other…Everybody that was there to pitch in and help out was so compassionate and kind and thoughtful and helpful. I had so many things done for me while I was there and I just felt like I was home. I didn’t wanna leave. It was such a magical time. O+ is a very magical time and space. I believe every artist deserves that experience.”

After many years of touring and playing shows across the U.S., Phoenix says that one of the things that really stood out about O+ was the community-oriented atmosphere and commitment to health and well-being beyond just the Artists’ Clinic. They noted that while so many music festivals tend to be centered around booze, they were pleasantly surprised to see vendors selling things like kombucha and green tea. “It was refreshing to be somewhere that wasn’t pushing people to get hammered and [instead] actually have healthy substances to put into their body,” they said.

Phoenix shared that they also felt inspired by the diversity of artists and creators at that year’s festival, remembering one particular performance piece that involved the artist hugging a tree for several hours a day. “There’s a lot of imposter syndrome that comes with being an artist, no matter what your artistry is, and when I went to O+ they embraced every and all kinds of artists…And I thought that was so validating, and beautiful and inspiring and it was like, yes, all artistry matters and counts and is valid here.”

These days, their life looks a lot different than it did back in 2017. When the pandemic hit and playing live music was no longer an option, Phoenix had to pivot to other work to make income. That led them back to another passion focusing on wildlife conservation and protection, and they’re currently based in Louisiana working with sea turtle populations. In the meantime, Phoenix also separated from their long-term partner and bandmate and quietly put Roebuck, the duo, on the back burner.

“O+ is a very magical time and space. I believe every artist deserves that experience.”

They’re still making music and even working on a solo album, but it’s been a slow process – emotionally, creatively, and physically.

Like many O+ alumni, Phoenix understands first-hand just how access to healthcare (or lack thereof) can have a life-changing impact on artists and musicians. Last year, an accident at home left them unable to use their right hand – or play upright bass. They were changing a light bulb when it shattered, cutting into their right index finger and damaging the tendon.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh no, what have I done?’” Phoenix says. “I don’t have health insurance. Am I ever going to play again?”

Some friends encouraged them to go to an urgent care center nearby after the finger started swelling and showing signs of infection. Though they were able to get an X-ray and confirm the extent of the injury, Phoenix says the care they received overall wasn’t very helpful. They were bandaged and sent home, told to keep the finger immobilized for a little while but that it should heal up fine on its own.

In reality, the healing process took a lot longer. Phoenix says it was more than a year before they could touch their index finger to their thumb, or put any pressure on the finger without severe pain.

Musician Phoenix Roebuck holds an animal skull

Without the use of that finger, they weren’t able to play their instrument. It felt like a devastating setback after several years of difficult change.

After the pandemic, and the end of touring, and splitting from their bandmate and spouse, Phoenix had focused their energy on music as a way to come to terms with all of these changes. “Music is so cathartic to be able to sit and play. I’ve had so many sessions where I’ve sat with my instruments and just wept playing through them because it’s a different language that your body is speaking when you play an instrument,” Phoenix says.

Without the ability to play, they felt lost.

“It put me into a spiral of depression, I’m not gonna lie,” they say. “This [injury] was such a huge blow because then I felt like all my power and ability to do what I knew how to do musically was just taken away from me because I didn’t have access to healthcare. I couldn’t afford what it was gonna cost to tend to my hand and I just had to hope that it was gonna get better.”

More than just hoping for recovery, Phoenix got to work, determined to get back to making music. They bought finger braces and scoured the Internet for physical therapy tutorials, slowly and painfully practicing finger exercises every day. It took six months of dedicated work just to bend their finger, and several months more before they had full articulation.

“I’m so incredibly grateful that I have the use of my finger back today and that I can play my bass again,” Phoenix says. “Healthcare is so necessary for musicians. It’s that easy for it to be taken away from you. It’s so, so easy.”

Reflecting on the injury and the arduous path to recovery, Phoenix wonders out loud how different their experience would have been if they’d been able to get the care they needed, both for their mental and physical health and well-being.

“The lack of accessibility of healthcare for artists and musicians is absolutely detrimental to our health and wellbeing and our ability to move forward,” they say. “It even takes away our ability to take risks as artists because we’re worried about what could happen…And O+ gives that back to artists, it gives them that peace of mind, that comfort.”

To find a sense of grounding and catharsis during their recovery, Phoenix says they sought out other instruments that didn’t require as much use of their right index finger to try and force some creativity. They learned ukulele and kalimba and dabbled a bit with cello and accordion.

“Anything to get some musical movement in me and through me,” they said. “I think music is such a divine gift to be a part of and participate in and is something I never wanna lose touch with or take for granted. That’s why I insisted on pushing myself to try and play something, anything through this injury because I didn’t want to lose touch with that divinity.”

“To play music is something that I wish for anyone and everyone who wants to do it. Music is life to me.”

Today, Phoenix is still making music and thankfully, still playing their upright bass. They’re working on their first album as a solo artist, and taking their time to develop and create their own sound. There’s still a lot to work through, and Phoenix still has to take breaks from playing – though much improved, they’re still regaining strength in that right hand. But they’re doing it, little by little, day by day.

“When I have my collection of songs ready to perform then I’ll feel like I’ve made it. Like, I’ve made it to the other side of this injury, I made it to the other side of all of this,” they say.

“It’s almost there. I’m almost at the top of the hill.”

Submissions Close June 30 for Chicago, Kingston O+ Festivals

The O+ Festival art and music curatorial teams in Chicago and Kingston, N.Y., are now accepting submissions for the 2015 festival weekends. Make history as part of the inaugural festival in the art-rich Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, which takes place Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 3-5, or join the ranks of both high-profile and emerging musicians and artists who have gifted the Hudson River city of Kingston, N.Y. with concerts, murals and performance art Friday-Sunday, Oct. 9-11, 2015. This year’s festival theme is: “The Other”. Submissions will be accepted through June 30.

Selected 2015 O+ Festival artists and musicians will have access to complimentary health and wellness care from doctors, dentists, chiropractors, homeopaths, massage therapists, psychotherapists and many more outstanding providers during the September and October weekends.

Apply here for the first Chicago festival. Apply here for the sixth Kingston, N.Y. festival.

Submissions for our November festival in Petaluma, Calif., will be announced soon.

Interested in volunteering for one of this year’s three festivals, becoming a sponsor, and/or hosting an artist or musician in your home? Please e-mail:, or

​About the O+ Festival: The non-profit O+ Festival connects musicians, artists, and health & wellness providers for weekend-long celebrations featuring concerts and performances, art making, and wellness offerings for the entire community.

On the Road Again! O+ Festival Goes Couchtrippin’ with Lagunitas to Austin

Couchtrippin to AustinThe O+ Festival is once again crashing on the couch of national sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Company during its winter CouchTrippin’ tour to Austin. The city-to-city party, which features O+ artists doing live painting, launches Feb. 21 in Philadelphia in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Additional stops take place in Los Angeles, Seattle and Minneapolis before ending in Austin on March 18.

Hear music from some killer bands, enjoy some “freaktacular” entertainment from the Lagunitas Beer Circus, taste Lagunitas brews, and mug for the camera in the CouchTrippin’ VideoBooth. The tour will also feature O+ Festival information, cO+ol merchandise and opportunities to make donations to the non-profit organization.

“Lagunitas has once again invited O+ to crash on their couches, and this time we are bringing along for the ride visual artists from our festivals in Kingston, NY; Petaluma, Calif; and Chicago,” said Joe Concra, executive director of the O+ Festival. “We lO+ve the opportunity to spread the word about our art, music and wellness celebrations that enhance entire communities.”

Parties are 21+ over only. First come first served. Learn more and find out how to RSVP here. See you on the road!

Saturday, Feb. 21 — Skybox Events Center in Philadelphia. — Music by Heartless Bastards and Son Little — Live art by Nils Westergard in collaboration with O+ and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Friday, Feb. 27 — Mark Sennett Studios in Los Angeles — Music by King Tuff with Sonny and the Sunsets — Live art by Raudiel Sañudo

Friday, March 6 — Emerald City Trapeze in Seattle — Music by Charles Bradley and The Tontons — Live art by Ethan Harrington

Thursday, March 12 — Aria in Minneapolis — Music by Delta Spirit and Hippo Campus — Live art by Josh Reisz

Wednesday, March 18 — Container Bar in Austin — Music by Charles Bradley, Delta Spirit, King Tuff, Heartless Bastards, the winner of the NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest, and Tony Magee — Live painting by Sorne

Online Art Auction Benefits O+ Festival in Petaluma

Maxfield Bala made "Grade A Chicken" during the 2014 O+ Festival in Petaluma, Calif.
Maxfield Bala made “Grade A Chicken” during the 2014 O+ Festival in Petaluma, Calif.

The works of the street artists who donated their time and talent during the 2014 O+ Festival in Petaluma, Calif., will be auctioned online to benefit the Bay Area festival. View the works and bid here beginning 9 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 until 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015.

Artworks were made during live painting events on materials donated by Heritage Salvage and Crown Trophy. Participating artists include Maxfield Bala, Raudiel Sañudo, Xavi Panneton, Nell Hernandez, Tobias Johnson, Ryan Petersen and Rhett Johnston/Graham Nelson.

A reception, which presents an opportunity to view the art in person, takes place Jan. 23 from 7-10 p.m. at Prince Gallery, 122 American Alley in Petaluma. Complimentary beer from national festival sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Company will be served.

Visionary artist Xavi Panneton participated in the 2014 O+ Festival in Petaluma, Calif.
Visionary artist Xavi Panneton participated in the 2014 O+ Festival in Petaluma, Calif.

“We have a lot to celebrate,” says Aimee Gardner, who oversees the Bay Area festivals. “Our 2014 weekend clinic welcomed 22 artists, 106 musicians and 78 volunteers, who received more than 400 visits with dentists, doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other wellness practitioners. Help make this happen again through your purchase of art.”

Auction organizers will extend the auction if the reserve is not met. To stay informed about the auction and reception, please “like” O+ Festival — Petaluma’s Facebook page.

The O+ Festival is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing community well-being by connecting musicians, artists and health & wellness providers in weekend-long celebrations.

The 2015 festivals will take place in Chicago in September, Kingston, N.Y. in October, and Petaluma, Calif., in November.

O+ Festival’s Year in Review: 2014 Characterized by Expansion

Festival earns non-profit status while adding mO+re cities, mO+re programming, mO+re care

Kingston, N.Y.-based artist Micah Blumenthal brought his "109 Lines of Communication" to the O+ Festival in Petaluma, Calif.
Kingston, N.Y.-based artist Micah Blumenthal brought his “109 Lines of Communication” to the O+ Festival in Petaluma, Calif.

It’s finally time to exhale. 2014 was an extraordinary year for the non-profit O+ Festival, which is dedicated to enhancing community well-being by connecting musicians, artists and health & wellness providers in weekend-long celebrations.

“O+ had a amazing year and so many compelling stories of wellness and connection have been told and will continue to be told,” says Executive Director Joe Concra. “We are all volunteers in this experiment in the gifting of art and music for wellness services.

In late spring, the IRS granted non-profit 501(c)(3) status to the organization, thanks to the work of Pro Bono Partnership. The designation means donations are now tax deductible and will provide the foundation for the Festival’s future growth and expansion. And 2014 was a year of tremendous growth for O+, which celebrated its fifth year in Kingston, N.Y., and second year in the Bay Area, this time in Petaluma, Calif.

“We have had thousands of clinic visits since we began 5 years ago, but beyond that we have made real human connections between artists, musicians, providers, neighbors and businesses, and we look forward to creating a space for that to happen across the country in 2015,” Concra says. “O+ is everyone’s festival and we are honored to help guide it and help it grO+w!”

Kingston during its Festival hosted a team of artists and musicians from Chicago, who will be launching an O+ Festival in their city (around 18th Street and Ashland) in September of 2015.

“I saw Joe’s TEDxTalk and was extremely inspired,” says O+ Chicago co-founder artist Amy Jo Arndt. To stay up-to-date and volunteer with the planning of O+ Chicago, please Like its Facebook page.

The 2014 Kingston O+ Festival hosted artists and musicians from Chicago, who launch a Festival there in 2015: Amy Jo Arndt, Cheryl Casden, Jody Casden & Josh Reisz.
The 2014 Kingston O+ Festival hosted Chicago-based artists Amy Jo Arndt, Cheryl Casden, Jody Casden & Josh Reisz, who will launch a Festival in the Windy City in 2015.

O+ volunteer Micah Blumenthal, a Kingston-based artist, graphic designer, percussionist and yoga instructor, participated in both Kingston and Petaluma festivals with his “109 Lines of Communication” public art.

“There were plenty of differences, but it’s the similarities that say more — both are strong communities committed to solving their problems,” Blumenthal says. “My work was about communication, about fun and exploration, and this seemed to matter to any who were willing to take the time. It was amazing to see so many interact so positively with my work, and the occasional destruction was cool to see too.”

Blumenthal last year received much-needed and long overdue dental care during O+.

“This year I saw a doctor and got a physical for the first time in 17 years and my first massage ever,” he says. “It (O+) not only provided me with care, but there is a presence surrounding the Festival and all of those who give, that made me take the opportunity and the care I have ignored for years.”

This year 20 artists and 55 musicians as well as 44 volunteers received health and wellness care at the O+ clinic in Kingston over the 3-day festival, which drew a crowd of about 2,200. Among the practitioners were nurses, primary care doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, energy workers, a psychiatrist, a naturopath as well as a team from the Institute for Family Health.

Visionary artist Xavi Panneton participated in the 2014 O+ Festival in Petaluma, Calif.
Visionary artist Xavi Panneton participated in the 2014 O+ Festival in Petaluma, Calif.

Eli Morales, ND, was among those who donated time and talent Oct. 10-13.

“This is a great opportunity to give back and to help artists be healthy,” Morales says. “It’s kind of my mission as a naturopathic doctor is to help people feel free and achieve a sense of wholeness again. Singers are often on the road; it’s hard for them to be healthy, and so I’m doing my best to support them on their journeys.”

Sarah Tae L.Ac., C.M.T., who provided acupuncture services to artists and musicians at the 2014 festival in Petaluma, came away from the weekend with a true feeling of kinship.

“It helps us to connect deeper with ourselves when we learn to connect with others,” Tae says. “Everybody is a mirror and we remind each other of our own humanity.”

Tae was among the providers who donated their time and expertise to the 22 artists, 106 musicians and 78 volunteers at the Petaluma festival. Nearly 400 clinic visits took place during the Nov. 7-9 weekend, which drew about 600 visitors and participants. Services offered included massage, energy work, primary care, acupuncture, podiatry, chiropractic care, dental, optometry, mental health, audiology, light therapy and nutrition. An additional 16 vouchers for dental care were distributed to artists based in nearby San Francisco and Oakland.

Dental hygienist Katie Schiller treated O+ Festival volunteer Elissa Jane Mastel during the 2014 Festival in Kingston, N.Y.
Dental hygienist Katie Schiller treated O+ Festival volunteer Elissa Jane Mastel during the 2014 Festival in Kingston, N.Y.

Petaluma headliner musician and performer Morgan Sorne received wellness care at this year’s Bay Area Festival.

“To have these practitioners appreciate what I do and offer their services, it makes you feel like what you’re doing has value,” he says.

Petaluma is the home of national sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Company, which continues to increase its financial and marketing support for the Festival’s mission. During the fall, O+ Festival went CouchTrippin’ with Lagunitas to New Orleans.

“There was O+ presence everywhere,” says David Green, who heads up national marketing and events for the Festival. “I think we created some awesome connections along the way.”

O+ Festival in 2014 received excellent national media coverage, including a Details piece and a Hartford Courant profile of Richard Buckner. Leonard Nevarez, in his review of this year’s Kingston festival, said the “concept is, in a word, genius.” And the Christian Science Monitor named the non-profit one of “7 Groups Making Communities More Compassionate.”

To make a financial contribution to the mission and work of the non-profit O+ Festival, please visit our DO+nation page.

O+ Festival Video Highlights Wellness, Spirit of Caring for Each Other

KINGSTON, N.Y.–A new video produced during the fifth annual O+ Festival in Kingston focuses on the health and wellness care that is donated by art-loving providers.

“I can’t think of any better way to trade services than to play music for medical care,” says musician Burnell Pines, whose concert at Keegan Ales is featured throughout the video. “Massages, Reiki, acupuncture, dental work … it’s a real pleasure.”

Videographer Liz Paradise of Topricin, which donated “care packages” of Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream to 2014 festival participants, interviewed a number of wellness clinic volunteers as well as artists and musicians. Click here to watch the video.

Eli Morales, ND, was among those who donated time and talent Oct. 10-13.

“This is a great opportunity to give back and to help artists be healthy,” Morales says. “It’s kind of my mission as a naturopathic doctor is to help people feel free and achieve a sense of wholeness again. Singers are often on the road; it’s hard for them to be healthy, and so I’m doing my best to support them on their journeys.”

It’s the spirit of community caring for itself that makes the festival stand out, says Billy Murphy, MD, who describes his participation as “one of the coolest things I do all year.”

“You have people there when you need them, and that’s really what O+ is all about,” he says.

Brittany Gavin, RN, who has volunteered for three festivals, says the weekend gives her an opportunity to work with patients she doesn’t often get to see — the uninsured or underinsured.

“A lot of artists and musicians are working so much and they’re so rough on their bodies, but then there’s nobody there to take care of them,” she says.

Artist Geddes Jones, who made a mural during the festival, sums up the spirit of the festival in this way: “I think it’s great for artists – people giving to people and helping out.”

Want to see more of O+ Festival in action? Subscribe to the festival’s YouTube channel.

Oct. 12 RecO+very Ride Demonstrates Cycling’s Impact on Community Wellness

KINGSTON–The 2014 O+ FESTIVAL on Sunday, Oct. 12 adds four cycling events to the weekend-long celebration of art, music and wellness. The mural-to-mural RecO+very Ride and three longer rides take place in partnership with Recovery Ride founder Tour de Kingston as well as YMCA of Kingston & Ulster County, HealthAlliance Foundation, Kingston Greenline, Revolution Bicycles, Famous Bike Brothers, Overlook Mountain Bikes, Kingston Land Trust and Nace Promotions.

“These four different events put cycling front and center as a vital part of the wellness of this community we live in,” said cycling enthusiast Joe Concra, co-founder and executive director of O+ Festival.

The fitness and fun kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with 18- and 28-mile rail trail rides, and a 50-mile road ride. Meet at the parking lot facing Schwenk Drive and corner of Fair Street, where one of this year’s artists, Kevin Freligh, has created a fantastic mural.

At noon, the whole family is invited to get on their bikes, trikes or Big Wheels for a guided 4.5 mile Mural-to-Mural RecO+very Ride that begins at the parking lot and stops at murals throughout Uptown Kingston as well as the YMCA in Midtown. Many O+ artists will be on hand to give talks in front of their murals. At the YMCA, riders are encouraged to stop and visit the recovering artists exhibit in the YMCA lobby.

At 1 p.m., as an optional 6-mile extension of the mural-to-mural ride, the Kingston Land Trust will lead a tour of the future Kingston Greenline. The tour route, which follows the planned system of trails, bike lanes and complete streets, will stop at the Trolley Museum of New York, on the Rondout Creek, and in Midtown near the hub of Ulster County’s once-vital railroad system. Tour guides will be on hand to share recent progress updates on the design and construction of the Kingston Greenline.

A map of the planned Mural-to-Mural and Kingston Greenline tour routes is available here. Note that these rides are guided, with volunteers serving as leaders and sweepers for the duration of the ride. Routes are subject to change.

Helmets are mandatory for all four rides.

The celebration continues with a complimentary barbecue at Keegan Ales from 1-3 p.m.

Participating adults should obtain all-access O+ Festival wristbands for $35 and are encouraged to check out all of the concerts, parties and classes taking place Friday-Sunday evening.

O+ Festival Goes CouchTrippin’ With National Sponsor Lagunitas

Couchtrippin posterThe O+ Festival is crashing on the couch of national sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Company during this fall’s CouchTrippin’ tour to New Orleans. The city-to-city party begins Friday, Sept. 19 at Doug Fir in Portland, Ore. with additional stops in Boston, San Diego, New York, Detroit and Asheville, N.C., before ending in New Orleans on Oct. 12.

Hear music from some killer local bands, enjoy some “freaktacular” entertainment from the Lagunitas Beer Circus, and sample CouchTrippin Fusion Ale, along with a lineup of Lagunitas on draft. CouchTrippin’ will also feature O+ Festival information, cO+ol merchandise and opportunities to make donations to the non-profit organization.

“We are elated that Lagunitas is helping us spread the word about our art, music and wellness celebrations that enhance entire communities,” said Joe Concra, executive director of the O+ Festival. “We will crash on their couch anytime.”

Parties are 21+ over only. First come first served. Learn more and find out how to RSVP here. See you on the road!

Friday, Sept. 19 — Doug Fir in Portland, Ore. — Music by Possessed by Paul James and Little Hurricane

Tuesday, Sept. 23 — Middle East in Cambridge, Mass. — Music by Low Cut Connie and Black Joe Lewis

Thursday, Sept. 25 — Silo in San Diego — Music by Jamestown Revival and Houndmouth

Sunday, Sept. 28 — Le Poisson Rouge in New York City — Music by Saint Rich and Man Man

Saturday, Oct. 4 — Magic Stick in Detroit — Music by You, Me, and Apollo and White Denim

Thursday, Oct. 9 — The Orange Peel in Asheville, N.C. — Music by Matrimony and Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

Sunday, Oct. 12 — Republic in New Orleans — Music by Little Hurricane, Houndmouth, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down and Man Man

O+ Festival Returns to Bay Area 7th-9th November With Expansion to Petaluma

Same Amazing Festival, New Host City; plus Q & A with Dave Green from Lagunitas

With a lot of time and thought, O+ San Francisco has decided to expand out to the rest of the Bay Area with the desire to leave a solid impression of community assurance, urban renewal, and wellness celebration on a series of smaller, up-and-coming cities.

We feel that the nature of O+ is a grassroots movement designed to be grasped by the hands of its hosting community, and adopted to fit that city’s specific needs – to nurture the foundation of community while also inspiring new and ongoing relationships between care providers and the creative community. Our aims are to infuse each community with more art, music, and patronage to local businesses, and ultimately establish a year-round O+ headquarters in each hosting city to continue the innovation and community unity through the donation of wellness and art.

O+ San Francisco was an exceptionally powerful and successful event, as we raised more than $50,000 worth of impact of arts and wellness in just three days, providing dozens of artists and musicians access to free care, and gifting the city’s participants with a full weekend roster of music concerts, live art performances, healthcare events, workshops, and a community-run, volunteer-staffed pop-up clinic. We are proud of our positive effect on San Francisco, gracious of our past participants and volunteers who made it all happen, and incredibly excited to spawn a new O+ experience in this year’s chosen neighboring city.

With that being said, we are humbled and pleased to announce that this year’s festival will be O+ Petaluma, which takes place Nov. 7-9, 2014. Petaluma is a gorgeous river city and tight-knit community in Sonoma County, California, just one hour north of San Francisco. It is also the home of the Lagunitas Brewing Company, O Positive’s first national sponsor. Since coming aboard last summer, Lagunitas has demonstrated considerable support for the festival’s core mission, and has become a large part of the heart and soul behind the operation.

Now that the festival is taking place on Lagunitas’ home base, we are delighted to be working more closely with the real working, living, breathing people behind this incredible company, and wanted to get a little more insight into its connection with the festival, and its leadership’s thoughts and visions about O+ Petaluma.

David Green of Lagunitas Brewing Co. (Photo by Joyce Manalo)
Dave Green of Lagunitas Brewing Co. (Photo by Joyce Manalo)

We interviewed Dave Green, Lagunitas’ National Sponsorships and Events Director, and loved his answers so much that we decided to just post the whole interview:

O+: How did Lagunitas become involved with O Positive? You mentioned before of the founder of Lagunitas being an artist himself, and having a love for “eclectic” or “freakshow” art?

Dave Green: There is a weird, awkward, but so perfectly balanced connection that has been made. You speak of Tony, and his love for music, for the eclectic, for the oddities and for the bizarre, and truth be told, this is, in a way, how we happened across O+. We have some friends here on the West Coast, in said bizarre industry—The Vau de Vire Society—who helps in a major way to produce our infamous annual Beer Circus that we throw at the brewery here in Petaluma, and now for the first time this year out at our new facilities in Chicago. They help source the talent that Tony (Magee) loves. The contortionists, the sword swallowers, the weirdos that we all love to gawk at! Tony drives to see things that you cannot un-see, the things that push the norms. One of the people on their roster is Deb Gatiss. She was our connection. She had been working on O+SF with Joe Concra and reached out to us July 2013. The deed was done.

What happened next was typical of a brewery like ours during that time of year. It was brushed aside, to be handled after our “bigger fish” were fried. After a series of upward bounds I found myself with the O Positive connection dumped on me, and I was just learning the ropes of Lagunitas. I had started in June! We arranged a call with Joe and Liz Harrington, who coordinates their sponsorships … by this point, it was early October. But I was sold! I made quick work of getting a pallet of beer out to Kingston, and booked my flights. The local brewery, and O Positive sponsor, Keegan Ales, was kind enough to let us use some of his cold storage space to store our beer. Tommy Keegan, the owner, actually has some history in the Bay Area, and told me a great story of a visit to our brewery in the ’90s that made me laugh! I will let him tell that story though… So the whole weekend I ran around meeting all of the wonderful people behind this operation, getting that pallet of beer everywhere, and doing what we do! The entire community was so welcoming. I actually stayed at one of the care provider’s house, John McKinney. This house is probably one of the most beautiful, and one of the oldest houses I had ever been in, and damn does he keep it nice. I felt like I was sleeping in a museum, short of the red velvet ropes. At the end of the festival, I had been bitten. I knew that this was going to turn into something more than what it already was, and really had no ceiling to its success! From that weekend forth, I have spread the gospel that is O Positive.

O+: Do you have a special or personal story in connection to O Positive and/or what is the reason that you are personally involved?

Dave: Benevolence. There is nothing like this—that is so true to the roots of why humanity exists. To see the love that the community of Kingston glows with in person was seriously a life-altering occasion. It is hard to put into words what this means to me personally without getting a little emotional. Two of our biggest drivers for a company are community and music. O Positive is just that. Understanding it over the phone when I first talked with Joe and Liz was one thing, but seeing it in action was a whole new thing entirely. O Positive is so much more than just being about the music and the giving back to the community and the artists. It perfectly demonstrates things that have been in many ways forgotten in our modern society. No money, no greed, no “dog and pony” show—just benevolence. Just kindness. Just doing what is right. Something not religious unless you want it to be, but something that draws spirit. Like a cosmic infrastructure of altruistic ideals. Something more than just surface. Something deeper. Something that to some may be the unconscious.

One of my favorite memories is that of the first night I was in town. It hit me in two stages. We had set up a promotion at the Santa Fe restaurant in Kingston, where we would have a view of the opening celebration parade from the patio. The first was that the folks at the establishment were nothing but welcoming. Just gave and gave and gave, and asked nothing in return, all for the “greater good” that O Positive influences.

The second was something else. A gentleman showed up, searched me out, and handed me a large cardboard box full of T-shirts. The T-shirts were custom-printed with our logo, the logo of the restaurant, and of course the O Positive logo. He just gave them to me, and said that hopefully these would help! This man was having dinner at the restaurant just the night before the event, which is where he learned about O Positive, and the party we were having. This man also owned a print shop, and he told me that he was so touched by the story, that he went to his shop and worked throughout the night to create those T-shirts so that he could deliver them to us in time for the gathering.

I don’t cry at movies, I don’t cry when I am in pain, I don’t cry at funerals, but this—this made me shed a tear or two. Corny, maybe, that a man with my crying reputation was brought down by a box of T-shirts. Cardboard, cotton, ink. But what else was in that box was this man’s selflessness. Was his passion. Was his kindness. Was benevolence.

O+: What are your intentions for O+ Petaluma? And what are your hopes for the effects of O+ on the town of Petaluma? How do you think that O+ Petaluma will differ from O+ San Francisco and O+ Kingston?

Dave: Our intentions are simply to see this be successful. The beauty of the O+ Festival structure is that it tightens the bonds within the community. This is proven in the success of Kingston. The once barren, “wastelandish” town surrounding the hollow IBM building is now, a bustling, artsy community that has desire. I want to live there! Petaluma is a great West Coast counterpart to Kingston. An artsy, almost bedroom community to the SF metropolis, as Kingston reflects to NYC. Born from farmland, grown with music and once again, desire. Packed full of great food, great music, and great people.  O+ will have the same effect here. There is a good web here, good bones, and the festival will serve as the glue, the fastener. O Positive will leave an impression by design that will strengthen this Petaluma web, and project beyond into further reaches of the West Coast, and/or further.

This is first and foremost about O+ and not about Lagunitas—down to the branding, the advertisement, everything. We are not in the spotlight. We work with a lot of great music and art festivals, and they all ask us what we want to do as far as Internet logo placement, radio ads, banner space. My answer is always, “Is this a festival about music, or is this a festival about banners?” I’ll sometimes hang my banners upside down to prove that it doesn’t matter. The feeling we get from watching the festival succeed is all we need to stay involved.

O+: Do you see a volunteer-run exchange service/clinic as a system that could work in the long run in the town of Petaluma?

Dave: I think Petaluma is the perfect place to establish a year round O Positive system. With the influx of great art, food, music, and some of the best holistic medicine within a stone’s throw, the community of Petaluma and the surrounding communities will have that soul, that passion, and that benevolence.

O+: What is Lagunitas as a company most excited about in terms of the festival?

Dave: To show our hometown of Petaluma what we have been doing on the East Coast! To introduce them to this new structure, to guide, to give insight, and to improve the community.

O+: Are there any other comments that you have?

Dave: The people that are involved with and have curated O Positive are of a special breed—not like the Westminster Kennel Club. I compare it a lot to the likes of the people I work with here at the brewery. We aren’t for show; we are for do. There are certain things that just should be. I leave you with a quote from Einstein…yes, I’m quoting Einstein:

“Knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be.”

O Positive is what should be.

O+: Thank you Dave.

The 2014 Petaluma website will be available soon and we will be starting the art and music submissions then. We are also looking for interested Healthcare and Wellness Practitioners, as well as festival Volunteers. For more information on how you can get involved please contact

Micro-Documentary Shows O+ Festival in Action

From left to right. Gaia, Simone Felice, Tom Cingel & Jason Russo.

We are pleased to release a short video featuring three “story bites” from the O+ community, shot by incredible documentarians, Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein, two of the leading chroniclers of post-9/11 America, and internationally accredited most recently for their latest documentary, Flag.

In this micro-documentary you will go on a trip to the local dentist with Jason Russo of Common Prayer, hear Simone Felice’s harrowing tale of emergency open-heart surgery, and talk community development with the insurmountable street artist, Gaia. You will hear first-hand stories of O+’s national movement beyond each individual festival, and its impact on urban renewal in developing cities and communities.

“Over the last four years, it’s been incredible to see the impact of O+ on a community,” said Michael Tucker. “What started as a simple idea among friends—bartering art and music for care—has completely transformed Kingston and established a model for other communities to heal themselves.” Michael, Petra, and their daughter Matilda participated as artists in the first O+, and have been attending the festival in Kingston ever since, before working together to film last year’s event. Both filmmakers are thrilled to see the seed of O+ spread across the country to new cities like San Francisco last year.

In a combined celebration of the release Simon Felice’s new full-length album, Strangers, Jason Russo’s recent return from recording his next album, as well as Gaia’s return from creating new art in Australia, O+ 2014 invites YOU to join us in uniting our mission of cultivating cO+mmunity assurance, resilience, and downright lO+ve in people and cities across the continent.

Watch the micro-documentary here.