A Rejuvenating Retreat

SHERMAN – Area residents are invited to the Great Blue Heron grounds in Sherman for an event which aims to help guests revive themselves.

The fourth annual Great Rhythm Revival retreat, hosted by founding Rusted Root member Jim Donovan, is set for Friday through Sunday.

According to Donovan, the retreat, which has traditionally been held at the end of August during Labor Day weekend, was moved to an earlier date because of scheduling issues for Donovan, who is also a college professor, and also to see if it would work better for the attendees.

“We’re always trying to make sure that there is room enough between The Great Blue Heron Music Festival and our retreat – it seemed like trying it at a different time might be a good thing,” Donovan said.

Being that the retreat is heading into its fourth year, Donovan said he feels strongly about getting the opportunity to continue the event, especially since one more year will bring it to a half-decade milestone.

“When I put myself out there, my finances and people’s schedule, it’s always a bit of pressure to make sure we do well,” Donovan said. “But, we’ve been doing well every year, and it keeps growing. It’s something I look forward to, and the design of it was to make something that I could simultaneously enjoy as well as provide for people.”

This year’s retreat will feature a variety of workshops such as: drumming, African dancing, chanting, yoga, Native American Earth medicine, a Zen kitchen, energy medicine, shamanic journeying and others.

“We have several folks coming back from last year, and we have a couple new things too,” Donovan said. “We’ll be offering a brand-new workshop on Afro-Cuban drumming, which is a whole lot of fun. I’ll be teaching a section of traditional West African djembe, which is something I haven’t done up there before. What’s nice is the experience gets formed around the people who show up. So, we provide opportunities, but so much of what happens is a connection between people – it’s intimate. The whole idea is that it’s not so much of a festival as it is a retreat.”

Attendees can opt to purchase a weekend meal plan, which is not included in the admission price, for $89. The plan provides attendees with freshly prepared meals made with as many local ingredients as possible, some of which come straight from Julie and Steve Rockcastle’s Green Heron Growers organic farm, www.greenherongrowers.com. Meal plans for each day are also available at varying prices.

According to Julie Rockcastle, a founding partner of the Great Blue Heron Music Festival, the Heron has a new mission statement and tag line this year: “Hosting Events, Growing Food And Enriching Lives,” www.theheron.org.

“The Rhythm Revival fits all three of these goals because our organic farm, Green Heron Growers, will be providing beef, chicken, shiitake, eggs and veggies for the meals. Probably not all of it, of course, but it’s important at this kind of event to eat delicious, healthy food,” Rockcastle said. “Plus, Jim Donovan has been coming here as a teacher and performer since the very first Blue Heron in 1992, and we love what he has to offer as his career takes a more spiritual path. We are so very pleased to create this amazing event with Jim.

“We all need inspiration in our lives and a deeper connection to spirit, no matter where we call home – this event provides that,” Rockcastle continued. “The attendees come from all over the place. Many know Jim Donovan, or his work, and others know the other presenters, most of whom are from out of state. And, some are Blue Heron fans looking for another way to enjoy this place and its energy.”

An option for those who have never been to the event before is to attend only the 9:30 p.m. concerts at the revival tent for $15. Friday evening’s concert will feature Spiral Rhythms Ecstatic Dance Experience and Saturday’s will feature Donovan’s band Sun King Warriors. Both of the evenings, which are open to people of all ages, also include admission to Night Lights At The Heron, which is a 1-mile forest trail illuminated by lights. For more information visit www.heronnightlights.com.

Tickets for the weekend are $189, and are $89 per day. Volunteer opportunities, of which 15-20 hours will cover the entry fee, are also available.

The retreat will be located at 2361 Waits Corners Road in Sherman. For more information call 761-7190 or visit www.greatrhythmrevival.com.