Ask a bunch of musicians about their experiences with record companies, and you’re liable to hear sordid tales of thuggery and theft, of being used and abused and treated a little like lunch meat. Many huge labels have deserved that reputation over the decades, with commonplace antics like embezzling royalties, restricting creative exploration and generally undermining the artist’s self-worth.
Jumpsuit Records, created by musicians for musicians, takes a different approach. Far from viewing its artists as mere cash-producing commodities, Jumpsuit considers them as family. This week, the label is throwing a “Jumpsuit Family Gathering,” and everyone’s invited.
The event begins today (Sept. 28) and continues through Sunday (Oct. 1) at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. Jumpsuit artists, anchored by the label’s founder, The Polish Ambassador (David Sugalski), will be performing on multiple stages. The all-ages gathering will also feature an array of workshops, films, dances, tea-and-elixir lounges, lawn games, yoga, a kids’ village and more.
The Polish Ambassador has performed in Taos before, combining his music with opportunities for environmental activism. “It’s something we’ve been talking about for years,” he said about the gathering. “Festivals have a huge opportunity to facilitate action. They are the curators of these massive human gatherings. The artists can help get people there, but the festival organizers are the ones shepherding people through various experiences. There’s huge opportunity to create meaningful, impactful experiences.”
Jumpsuit’s label manager, musician Ryan Herr, has been involved in running the label over the past year, as well as producing and co-producing albums. He tours, performs and records with The Polish Ambassador and Wildlight.
“Jumpsuit Records is a grassroots, family-style label where all the artists know each other and co-create on many of each other’s albums, shows and tours,” Herr said. “We are honored to be able to bring all our artists to one place! The Polish Ambassador will headline two nights. On the second night, he will perform a ‘throwback’ set where he will revisit many of his older tracks that brought in his original fan base.”
Jumpsuit’s roster features a variety of musical styles. “Wildlight is a project between The Polish Ambassador and his friend and sweetheart, Ayla Nereo,” said Herr. “When they hit the stage, it is a beautiful partnering of the love they have for music, as well as the love they have for each other. SaQi delivers a diverse blend of sultry world beats with cutting-edge production and tops it off by playing live trumpet over his unique productions. Isaac Chambers comes all the way from Australia to offer his blend of dub, reggae, hip-hop and soul for his first live show in New Mexico. Scott Nice is making his second appearance in Taos. He and The Polish Ambassador performed at Taos Mesa Brewing together last year and loved it so much that it was one of the driving inspirations to return with our festival.”
Also on the bill, according to Herr, are “soft, inspiring folk melodies from Grandfather Gold; Ultimate Fantastic’s West Coast hip-hop; and our newest addition of Afro-funk hip-hop from the Dogon Lights.”
Herr offered highlights of the festival’s extra-musical events, which include “yoga, ecstatic dance, blues dance classes, bodywork classes, permaculture and natural building workshops – and partnering for our first time with the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. They curated a film program for us that has emphasis on activism, community, permaculture, environment, indigenous perspectives and nature/adventure. We are also extremely honored to have some of the Taos Pueblo community coming to offer opening and closing ceremonies, prayers, stories, song and dance.”
Many of the headlining acts will also be leading workshops. “SaQi will be teaching yoga, Scott Nice will be teaching breema. I’ll be leading ecstatic dance – and Ayla Nereo leading a vocal workshop. We highly recommend people to come for the entire weekend, as many of the workshops and experiences will be curated over the course of three days and we encourage everyone to participate in as much as possible.”
One such participatory experience, ongoing daily from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., will be the “Earth Bag Action Days Workshop,” with Taos locals Kenny Quinn (founder of Earth & Sun Builders) and Chandra Helton exploring fundamentals of natural building.
“We’re looking forward to listening to some great music while getting our hands dirty,” Helton said. “We plan on creating an ‘Earth Bag’ bench from start to finish. Hopefully we get enough happy, helpful bodies to make that happen. You fill polypropylene bags with earth and sometimes a mixture of clay. Then you tamp the bags until solid and firm. We use barbed wire between each layer of bags as we go for tensile strength.”
Helton shared a quote from Iranian-born Nader Khalili, a pioneer in innovative architecture: “This construction method allows us to use elements of war – sandbags and barbed wire – and transform them into elements of peace.”
Taos Mesa Brewing co-founder Dan Iron said he is looking forward to a fun event. “Ryan Herr approached me about hosting a celebration for Jumpsuit Records last year after one of the label’s featured artists played a concert here. Of all the promoters I have worked with, Ryan has been the most creative and visionary to date. His vision for this weekend is grand in scope and will create a truly unique experience.”
“My hope and my dream,” the Polish Ambassador said, “is that there are a lot of festival organizers out here that really love this planet, love humanity, community and love seeing things thrive. I hope that they’re going to start to weave regenerative practices into their experience. There is an opportunity to show people that we can go to these places to celebrate, but also to contribute and co-create something bigger than ourselves.”
Here’s the lowdown on tickets: Single-day passes are Thursday $25, Friday and Saturday $49, Sunday $39. Camping and whole-event pricing can be found online. Workshops and yoga start at 10 a.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday.
Music starts at 4 p.m. and goes to 2 a.m. Friday (Sept. 29), 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 30) and 3:30-10:30 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 1).
For more information, visit jumpsuitrecords.com/jfg-schedule.