Peacefest ’07: The Ultimate Garden Party

The Peace Circle in action. Photo: Kloie Picot
Visualize the Peacefest at Kunlun Herb Garden, Taoyuan county”

By Trista di Genova
Special to The China Post

Imagine this, and you’re halfway there: You’re in nature right now. You — and/or friends and family — are enjoying a super-chill party weekend, far, far away from the office. You have a weekend pass to a magical, Eden-like herb garden in Longtan, Taoyuan county, near Shrmen Reservoir.

It has spas; a botanical garden to explore by day; fireflies by night; barflies and intellectuals, vendors and Taichi workshops by morning.

Free yourself and practice fire-dancing, drumming; enjoy free camping, dorm or log cabin accommodation.

You’re at the ultimate garden party.

Founded in the anti-war spirit and run by committee, the Peacefest in Kunlun Gardens has grown to be one of the best-known music and art festivals of the year on Taiwan, drawing a veritable “who’s who” of the Taiwan independent music scene.

Imagine listening to all the greatest bands — local, expat, in-diggin’-us, original people.

This year’s musical offerings include a return visit by aboriginal bluesman and Taiwan music legend Kimbo; Afro-Caribbean drum and dance troupe Pan Africana; Taiwanese fuzz rockers 88 Guava Seeds (八十八顆芭樂籽) and Rabbit is Rich; old-time jug band music from David Chen & the Muddy Basin Ramblers; roots and reggae from festival veterans Scott Cook and The Anglers; The Admissionaries and Uli and the Brood; blues by Boogie Chillin’ and BoPoMoFo; punk from Divebomb and Heavy Smoker; Rockabilly from Tainan’s Full House; groovy folk by Faye & the Slacks; live electronica by Viba.

photo credit: Molmol Kuo
Then, you wouldn’t want to miss world fusion music by Paparazzi and Angyel’s Macedonian Music Band; mountain songs by Sophie and Cemelesai, who are members of popular aboriginal group Totem; big-band funk and soul from Taichung super-group The Money Shot Horns; a trilingual, punk rock musical puppet show by Ren Jian Bao Theatre Company; all stripes of rock and roll by Changhua’s The Idiots; Hualien’s Mister Green and Highway 9; Taichung’s .22; Chiayi’s Ad Hoc, Tainan’s Charlie Swiggs Band, Taipei’s Public Radio; explosively experimental noiseband Rocket Grrrl; To a God Unknown; plus DJs Dragon, Marcus Aurelius, Soundmindset for the wee hours.

Peacefest organizer Scott Cook cooks it up at last year’s Peacefest.
Nearby, you can see the second chillout stage by Kuanyin, with ambient electronica artists like MoShang who samples the streets of Taiwan, and other happenings going on throughout the weekend. A variety of singers, poets, MCs, and speakers on peace topics will be doing 5-minute spots between acts on the main stage. This year, the festival has been timed to coincide with the full moon on Friday; at sunset Saturday there is a peace circle. Finally, admission is free on Sunday, with a host of children’s activities.

Organizers expect to see 600 attending this year’s Peacefest, its fourth year. Last year, they raised NT$100,000 for charity, and are aiming for NT$150,000 this year. Money raised goes to the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association, and Basic Human Aid — a free orphanage, school and clinic for street kids in Varanasi, India.

“I only hope people can come out for the whole weekend and enjoy each other’s company, the food, the art, the nature, and of course the music, keeping in mind the whole point of the thing,” said co-organizer Scott Cook, who’s going on tour in Canada after the fest.

“We want it to be more than a party,” he continued. “We want it to be a meeting of minds, where people can link up, get to know each other better, talk about ways to help out, and work on improving themselves. Which is what every REALLY good festival is.”

“It’s a meeting of minds from all over the island,” says organizer “Peace Dave” Nichols. “Together we really can change the world.”

If you can imagine this, you’re already there.

WHAT: Hoping Peacefest ‘07
WHEN: June 1-3; Friday night until Sunday sunset.
WHERE: Kunlun Herb Garden, Longtan, Taoyuan county.
MORE INFO: For band schedule and directions to Kunlun