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    Luscious Queer Music Festival: Northern CA’s First LGBTQ Music Fest

    By David O’Steinberg

    Luscious Queer Music Festival will take place at Saratoga Springs Retreat Center in Upper Lake, California. Northern California’s first LGBTQ music festival begins August 22, 2014, and continues through Sunday, August 24, 2014. Saratoga Springs Retreat Center sits among tall hills in a beautiful, secluded valley in Northern California, an easy two and a half hour drive north of San Francisco.

    How did this all come about, you might wonder?


    Chas Nol, Managing Director, Saratoga Springs Retreat Center: “I love going to music festivals and enjoying the sense of community and joy. I’ve always hungered for a music festival that showcases the enormous talents of the Queer community. And I’ve loved being at retreats and events with my Queer family feeling that common bond. It’s been our long-held vision to create a festival of music by and for the Queer community. We think an event with all our friends and family will be rich and luscious.”

    Now co-owner of Saratoga Springs, Nol envisioned a queer music festival inspired partly by East Coast queer music festival, Out In The Woods. He quickly tapped fellow Saratoga Springs co-owner, Ruven Hannah, as festival Executive Producer. Hannah brought in DJ extraordinaire Page Hodel as consultant to help with festival planning, and then added DJ Justin Justime as Assistant Executive Producer. Nol, Hannah and staff have been working for months readying every last detail for the festival.


    Hannah, a solo performance artist for many years, has produced his own shows and other queer events. “My role for Luscious as executive producer has been to coordinate all the elements needed for a fantastic party—a great line-up, a fabulous setting, tasty food and, most importantly, a great audience. We think this talented and eclectic group of musicians will make the festival a fun, exciting event.”

    Luscious features eclectic music by equally eclectic queer performers, including Grammy performer Mary Lambert, the trans-sensational Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, women’s music pioneer Chris Williamson, the funk and soul of Skip The Needle featuring Vicki Randle, Bear community favorite Matt Alber, Joni Ginoli of Pansy Division in a solo set, and others. Throw in fabulous comedian and performer Marga Gomez as the festival’s main MC, great DJs, a Comfort & Joy Afterglow party and what’s not to like?

    Along with a good time with good friends in nature, Luscious will raise funds for, and awareness about, LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers. Think Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, and Iran. A portion of festival proceeds will go to queer asylum groups ORAM (Organization for Refuge, Asylum And Migration), JFCS/East Bay’s LGBTI Refugee and Asylee Program, and Refugee Guardian Group. These organizations provide legal and other assistance to international LGBTQ people seeking asylum. ORAM’s founder and executive director Neil Grungras will speak at the festival about queer asylum.

    festy2Hannah says, “The over-arching goal of our festival is to make an impact on LGBTQ immigration rights, and to help those seeking asylum find safety in other countries where their lives will not be endangered. It’s a bit like the early days of the Holocaust when Jewish refugees tried to flee Nazi Germany. Today, LGBTQ refugees are seeking asylum in the U.S. and other countries and we want to ensure they receive all the assistance they can get.”

    As a final thought, Nol offered, “You occasionally see a queer artist on an awards show, or at a big festival, but their queerness is pushed to the side, as if it doesn’t matter. The thing is, it really does matter.”



    Tickets and Festival Information: