New OHIOAN album Coming Soon

Test pressings for the new LP, EMPTY / EVERY MT are in the mail.

Sneak peaks over at the bandcamp page.

For now you can read these kind words by our friend and rebel author Adam Gnade.

mt lemmon




America was built on blood and hunger and dissent. On greed and evasive action. This has been a theme repeated across the landscape of this country’s short history—endless, slogging, grotesque variations from the first day of colonization to statehood to whatever time it is as you’re reading this, and each generation takes its turn at protesting that narrative. In a time of fracking, strip-mining, and murderous cops, American folk and country music has been largely devoid of protest. Decades after Dylan both deepened and destroyed folk music, the genre seems trapped in amber once again, a feedback loop of trains and whiskey and old-timey heartache. While folk music is dusting off its fedoras and waxing its ‘stache, country finds itself lurching awkwardly into a future of third-eye-blind party jams—beers by the lake, $1,500 Luchese boots, romancing farm equipment. With notable exceptions (see Sturgill’s essential “Voices”), both genres seem bound and determined to speak no evil.

Ohioan’s new album, EMPTY / EVERY MT, is a record of protest songs but this is nothing like protest music you’ve heard before. This is a new form of country music. It’s Appalachian mountain music mashed-up with African desert music played by a dude raised in the shadow of Appalachia who now lives in the desert. (Read that twice if you need to; it’s important to the story.) American music has always been about the dialog between cultures and the place where they overlap. Like any ecosystem, evolution and diversity are paramount.

EMPTY / EVERY MT is an album about the “Appalachian Desert,” a concept created by Ohioan band-leader Ryne Warner. He posits that one day mountaintop removal and mining will level the forests of Appalachia, turning once lush land into an arid desert-scape not unlike parts of the American West and North Africa. The music here was made using the sounds associated with those places–banjo, dobro, jaw harp, dulcimer, African scales, the electric guitar, modal tunings. The result is an image of Warner’s Appalachian Desert rendered in sound.

The songs on EMPTY / EVERY MT (read “mountain”) are about strip mining, fear, new wastelands, police control, about kids drinking poison water, about uranium, and the death of the land. It’s a record that says wake the fuck up, we are destroying the earth which means we are destroying everything.

Musically, EMPTY / EVERY MT is a banjo-lead pulsating trance, a full-band record that moves confident through six tracks (more like movements of music, but that sounds snooty as hell, and we’re talking about country music here, so no). Warner has been eyes-deep in the creation of this hybrid form for the past few years.

That’s where we are now. Here’s where it started: Warner was raised near coal country in rural Ohio; hunting, fishing, drinking from streams, experiencing a life that sounds like a downright throwback these days. It was here in the deep woods and among the burial mounds that Warner learned what it was to be wild but also to have that trust for land, for a natural community, to feel a part of this system that works for itself. Then everything changed. The family broke apart. The land was sold and became a Christmas tree farm with a Wal-Mart looming above it. America. Fuck yeah.

“That idealistic past … there’s no going back to it. Specifically, there is no bringing back mountaintops that are removed, no repopulating species or cultures that are made extinct. No control+Z undo option here.”

After leaving Ohio, Warner worked odd jobs, traveled on foot, recorded friends’ albums on cassette tapes, founded the collective label Infinite Front, and played in groups like Castanets and Ghost to Falco. He toured. (He toured like a man possessed, endlessly crisscrossing the highways and byways of his country, cutting his teeth in sticky-floor honky-tonks, punk clubs, and barrooms across the vast continent.) He fell in love a lot. Washed dishes. Did construction. He studied fingerpicking with the brilliant Americana guitarist Marisa Anderson and learned a lot about a lot from Jef Brown of the Evolutionary Jass Band and Jackie-O Motherfucker. But it wasn’t until his move to the desert that Ohioan’s new voice began to emerge. Having relocated to southern Arizona, he saw remnants of the copper industry everywhere. In a land where water is already a precious element, springs and wells were going dry as the water-table was drained for the slurries. It was during this early time in the desert, as he began to see the tragic similarity between lands, that the Appalachian/African hybrid (and the story behind the lyrics) was born.

But EMPTY / EVERY MT is no solo effort: along with a crew of local Tucsonans, it features the legendary pedal steel of Susan Alcorn, the jaw-harp of visual artist Arrington de Dionyso, and the much-beloved voice of Tara Jane O’Neil. Portions were recorded at campgrounds, inside a mine near the Tohono O’odham reservation, and in a cave out in Organ Pipe National Monument, a unique expanse of cactus and mountains recently reopened after narcos killed U.S. Park Ranger Kristopher Eggle. All of the band tracking was done live, next to the train tracks in an old adobe compound that used to be an anarchist infoshop and before that a slaughterhouse. Recorded live to 2″ 16-track tape, the songs were honed playing out at Keeylocko, a semi-lawless outpost run by Ed Keeylocko, a notorious local character and black cowboy who, when faced with racist idiots who wouldn’t buy his cattle, just up and built his own town.

The 41-minute record begins with a sparse banjo line, wiry and lone and laid bare. It’s an American sound and it brings with it a panoramic backlog of imagery; it has the feel of sitting in the passenger seat of a shitty old pickup as it passes over the river bridge, out through green rolling farmland, then up in to the hills, further, further up, past mountain streams, the trees reaching up and blocking out the sunlight which comes through in slanted rays—the road tiger-striped with sun-—and then the band kicks in, propulsive, droning, cinematic. The track shifts into an African rhythm, with the banjo playing Appalachian scales on top, but cycling and looping. It is the rawest song of the record. Like the rest of the album, “Bad Altitude” feels like a documented performance in the manner of Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps, a live album with studio overdubs, all flaws and snarls of feedback and fissures intact.

“all I need is two canteens / and mountain peaks / working / on my brain / with a slow / scrub.” 

It’s a song about communing with the mountains, about the therapeutic nature of staring out across the vastness. But this is no hippy-dippy-accentuation-of-positivity or denial-of-the-evils trip. It is about climbing that mountain only to see the rest are gone. The electric guitars and banjo are mean, sharp. It’s a rhythmic, churning, sensual song, a visceral slab of resistance and ascent. At nearly eight minutes “Bad Altitude” is a fine example of Warner’s desert/mountain hybrid sound.

Then comes the sound of car keys and crushed aluminum and we’re into “Pissing at Will,” a building, driving epic about the policing of the body—and fuck that—inspired by the Baltimore uprisings of 2015. Like a lot of Warner’s recent work, this is a fight song, and it delivers one of the best lines on the record,

“so stay true human / don’t stray / keep moving / disallow to swine.” 

It’s the kind of lyric you write on your arm or on your school binder to help you hang on in those dark and sick-gnawing moments when all your hope is crashing and you need something to hold onto.

The song starts stripped-down and raw, the drums churning circular patterns low in the mix behind the guitar, before being slowly taken over by synths while the beat morphs into some kind of cyborg methlab EDM groove. Somehow it’s all still very human, damaged even. “I wanted this song to limp a little, to have a black eye, to get knocked down but get back up, like a stubborn boxer, or an insurgent resisting interrogation.”

“they come for you / eventually / gloved pigs / endlessly / reaching into your ass”

It ends with a desperate and mournful dobro, fading out, allowing the next song to begin as a tapestry of lap steel wandering together with bass and guitar; like a lot of Ohioan’s early noise and folk experimentations, it’s a free and derailed piece of music, blowing around like an old beer can and changing direction like wind before a thunderstorm, but it’s not without purpose or path. The storm doesn’t come; instead, the clouds part and it’s a hazy, early morning. Thus begins “Like Survival Like.”

With standard chord changes and a repeated vocal melody this is the most traditional song on the record. This is something Warner has always done well on past records (see Balls Deep in Babylon)—a classic country song that feels like it could’ve been covered by Jerry Jeff Walker 30 years ago.

“blind / like survival / like a mothers love / for an ugly child”

“I left it in the lineup for contrast, almost as incidental music. Like film, there’s the score with all the orchestra and the foley design throughout and then there’s the scene where someone is driving around listening to the radio.”

The second half of EMPTY / EVERY MT is a 3-part suite, beginning with “Workmans Comp.” First, a fiddle—beautiful and plaintive and solitary—before the band bears down on the arrangement. From that fiddle on in to the clawhammer sway, the pentatonic melody and miner’s prayer, it is nearly a traditional high-lonesome tune in the vein of “Omie Wise”—if you made two Ringos bash reggaeton beats while giving James Burton only one note to play. It’s hypnotic, mesmeric—the rare type of song that takes American roots music a step further. And the point here is to evolve, right? To take what’s old, combine it with what you love, and move the craft forward.

In keeping with the traditional nod of the music, the lyrics acknowledge the linage of work songs in mountain music, but dressed up in new 10-dollar words to describe the same old existential dread.

“tired of temporal loss / my time aint much / but its enough

the boss aint always right / but he’s always the boss”

And then the music crashes into a pit of squeals and shrieks, the sound of a coal mine collapsing, trapping and killing the worker inside. When they bury his pine box, held together with duct tape, it’s purely symbolic: his body was never found.

“then trim my casket / with alabama chrome / and paint my shades / with Rust-Oleum”

The harsh tones simmer then end with an abrupt edit: the sound of a tape machine starting up mid-take, into “Birth Control,” the middle section of the suite.

“First light /down from the mountain / switchback, aspen to pine / past cacti and stone / salt cedar and stone / smoke / open pit / of the mine.”

The words unfurl and focus on the effects of refineries on children, illegally placed next to schools and homes, poisoning the drinking fountains.

“gored earth and old ore / upstream from the school / and the dull, looming / flap of Old Glory”

Sonically, this is probably the song most likely to win over your psyche-loving Deadhead friends: the guitar notes flick up like a fishhook, span out with a serpent’s wave, snarl tight and Eastern, and breathe out sunrays of psilocybin. If you wanted to shoot a remake of Easy Rider with a heavy, patient-plotting dark Americana track that both references “Born to be Wild” and beats “The End” at its own game you’ve got ragged gold glory here.

The final track on EMPTY / EVERY MT is “Whats Not Blood,” a quiet, restrained duet with Tara Jane O’Neil—quiet, yes, but lyrically heartbreaking, as Susan Alcorn’s lovely pedal steel moves around (and over and through) the song like water around (and over and through) stone while Warner paraphrases Oppenheimer,

“young bones, brittle / bend to my whim / death, I am become / destroyer of worlds / all sons of bitches, now / let it be sung again,”

These words are followed by him and O’Neil coo-ing sweetly together, driving home the meanness of the message with their warmth and calm together. You can see them face to face in front of the mic, eyes closed, locked-in but never rigid.

“Whats Not Blood” ends heavy. Heavy and real. A stand has been made but maybe it’s too late,

“let it be said / I stood against / I did what I thought I could / though I hid my face / raised my voice too late / knowing only words / not language / not blood.”

The track is a gentle but devastating end to a tumultuous piece of music, a record full of beautiful resistance and wild defiance, painful ache and half-hidden pep-talks. EMPTY / EVERY MT is protest music in the way Woody Guthrie was protest music. You could go as far as to say this is the kind of record Woody might’ve written about the shit-awfulness of the times if he were alive and young today. But this sounds nothing like Guthrie’s music. What it sounds like is coming up rural and punkrock with red-hot indignation, years of making a plan and the struggle of breathing life into its form. It is living music, forward motion and evolution, progress and communication. It sounds like clean rivers and indomitable mountains, poisoned waters and gutted peaks. It is a record that sounds like burial mounds, family land, time spent in bands and endless tours, and nights out in the desert playing as a bar band. It sounds like now and it sounds like the end of an empire and it sounds like the terror of knowing what the world is about. EMPTY / EVERY MT is America, the bloody. America, the hungry. But here in the midst of cruelness and toxicity, we find the urgent sound of two ideas coming together, an embrace or a handshake rather than a clash. It sounds like America in its darkness and it sounds like America in its light.

-Adam Gnade, somewhere in Kansas


OHIOAN “Feral Hostility” TOUR


The bands back on the road with a new crew and new tunes:


11 – Tucson, AZ – The Boxing Gym

12 – Phoenix, AZ – TrunkSpace

13 – Prescott, AZ – The Den

14 – Prescott, AZ – Superstition Meadery

15 – Flagstaff, AZ – Firecreek Cafe

16 – Albuquerque, NM – Iron Haus

17 – Madrid, NM – The Hollar (early show)

17 – Santa Fe, NM – Ghost (late show)

18 – Colorado Springs, CO – Flux Capacitor (early show)

18 – Denver, CO – The Meadowlark (late show)

19 – Boulder, CO – Paradime

20 – Denver, CO – Sidewinder (early show)

20 – Denver, CO – Lonely House (late show)

21 – Fort Collins, CO – The Downtown Artery

22 – Laramie, WY – Coal Creek

23 – Lander, WY – Lander Bake Shop

24 – Bozeman, MT – Haufbrau

25 – Missoula, MT – The VFW

26 – Boise, ID – TreeHouse

27 – Boise, ID – The Watercooler w/ LITTLE WINGS!

28 – Boise, ID – parking lot performance, part of “Band Dialog” series curated by Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family, Cy Dune).   A unique event involving multiple bands performing simultaneously, all conducted by Seth,  Starts at 5pm.  On Grove St. just west of 11th.

29 – Portland, OR – The Liquor Store

30 – Seattle, WA – the LoFi

31 – Olympia, WA – Obsidian


1 – Portland, OR – Holocene

2 – Bellingham, WA – The Shakedown

3 – Ashland, OR – Oberon’s

4 – Oakland, CA – warehouse show

5 – Sebastopol, CA – 755 After Dark

6 – TBA

7 – San Francisco, CA – Amnesia

8 – Los Angeles, CA – Ham & Eggs

9 – Costa Mesa, CA – The Wayfarer

10 – TBA

11 – TBA

12 – San Diego, CA – Soda Bar

13 – Prescott, AZ – The Den

14 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress

OHIOAN interview w/ YabYumMusic

by Robert Hanshaw

For the second time in a year, a half dozen of Tucson’s most interesting bands took the trek to Cowtown Keeylocko this past Saturday – an hour southwest of town, near Three Points, taking the Ajo Highway down to a maze of pitted dirt roads that ends at a small circle of shambled buildings. 3 MPH is the posted speed limit; you may not drink any beer that you might have brought “YORE SELF” There is no spitting or “Reckless eye bawling” allowed.

A hundred or so dedicated listeners squeezed themselves into the Blue Dog Saloon at the center of the complex, the bands squeezed themselves into the Blue Dog’s tiny, dusty stage, and a strange magic was made there. Everyone still and attentive – almost reverently so. The stars brighter than they ever are in the city. Quiet conversations around the trashcan fires outside the saloon, between sets. The scene getting to know itself a little better, looking a little deeper. Music, transformed into a sort of thrumming joy: bigger than a party, but less obtrusive, more inclusive.

Ryne Warner was the architect of all this. Along with John Melillo (Algae & Tentacles), Warner made it his mission to get out here and force people to listen to music stripped of the jaded, insubstantial feeling of the bars in town.

He is something of a drifter – he’s lived in Ohio, Florida, Oregon, New Mexico, Prescott, Tucson, and is already contemplating what might cause him to leave. But his search is for permanence, for that in music which is eternal. Even if that means zigging and zagging endlessly to uncover it where it is.


“I’m from Ohio, southern Ohio. Right where Appalachia meets the Midwest and Amish country… If you went straight from our front yard, it was all flat, all cornfields. And our backyard was all caves and hollers. So we were right on the line where the geography changed.” Geography means a lot to Warner, how it relates to people’s sense of place. Perhaps it’s not insignificant that he grew up in a place of transition.

Warner’s mother, though not a musician herself, had a guitar around. “She grew up in the ‘70s, I don’t know, she probably played a Cat Stevens song on it once… I just remember grabbing it out from under her bed and messing around with it.” He wrote rudimentary songs on it as a kid, and that excited him. But it wasn’t quite the time for guitar just yet: Early ‘90s hiphop was his first love. Illmatic came out, “and I just got swept up in it, I was in love with it.” It was the production that hit him the hardest. “Dark, drony old jazz samples. I was obsessed.”

It did end up being just another transition point for him. “I would write rhymes . But I was the only white kid at my school who was into hiphop… so I ended up hanging out with the punk rock kids, and transitioned into going to hardcore shows.” He had to drive 45 minutes to get to shows from his rural town – “My high school was right in the middle of a cornfield. Children of the Corn” – and that isolation, that effort, fostered a sense of purposefulness in music-making that has stuck with him ever since.


Warner ended up in Portland, Oregon around the time he was 21. “I was so green,” he says, smiling. But Portland has a good public library, and from the beginning he was surrounded by a community of musicians who “had extensive knowledge of very esoteric music” for him to dive into. He did.

All that came to fruition when Warner started the first group incarnation of Ohioan at 24. “It started as a quartet with accordion, clarinet, cornet and tenor sax. Just me and my girlfriend and our two buddies… We had one song, a 30-minute song, and we practiced that one song for a year and would only perform that one song. And then we finally recorded it, and [the rest of the band] said ‘You should write some other songs, please.’”

He did that, too, and eventually Ohioan had spun out into a 13-piece jazz band, who worked on a full-length record. “[We] went into this warehouse attic above a mechanic shop and drank a bunch of wine and did it in a night, mostly improvised.” And then Ohioan became a sextet, a “spacey country band,” making liberal use of the steel guitar after Warner became enamored with the music of steel player Susan Alcorn.

Warner didn’t play the pedal steel, “but I found this one guy who played and was down to let me be his Captain Beefheart, and boot-camp him with my vision of what this pedal steel-centered record would be” He continues: “That was the most obsessive I ever got with a record and a sound. I did that for 2 years, burning money, remixing entire songs, doing 7 more tracks of guitar… I think everybody makes that record at some point, learns that lesson about how deep to stare into the void.”

It’s clear that Ohioan is simply Ryne Warner with various configurations of friends around him. “I have no problem acknowledging that it’s my band,” he says, “and so I don’t expect people to have commitments to it. You know, if they have another band that they want to focus on, or a tour, a husband, or a child, or anything else that should take priority in their life, they should do it, and I’ll find a way to keep doing this.”

The sometimes bizarre and right-angled stylistic turns that Ohioan has taken do make sense, over time. At least they do for Warner himself. “It was just an outlet to learn… I can look back on it now and see the cohesive whole, what sounds have stayed the same through the years.”

The current version of Ohioan, still very fluid, plays a unique kind of music in Tucson – something that draws from minimalism, repetition, improvisation and groove, yet easily fits into the kind of structure that holds the ear. It’s filled with smoky timbrel tropes, but the musical content is beautifully organic, and in that way, also sort of alien. It’s very difficult to describe accurately.


The previous event at Cowtown Keeylocko has been briefly discussed in this series before.  Then, as now, John Melillo and Warner set it up together; that time, as a way to support their mutual friend Seth Olinsky of Lightning Records and Akron/Family. Warner clicked with Olinsky early on:

“I met Seth at a festival in Portland that we both played. After Ohioan’s set, he invited me onstage with Akron/Family to play percussion.” They both ended up in Tucson around the same time, about 3 years ago. Olinsky was just beginning to conceive of Lightning Records with his partner Ali Belectic, and asked Warner if he wanted to release a tape for their first compilation. “I had some home recordings that were lying around. I was going through a pretty gnarly divorce, I didn’t want to be around other people because I was such a mess… so I was doing singer-songwriter stuff at home, just to stay busy. I warned him, ‘This is all I’ve got right now’… but he liked it, and he put it out.”

Olinsky didn’t really have a part in the Keeylocko concerts. He planned the release of the first Lightning quarterly in Joshua Tree, around the same time Melillo and Warner were setting up the Cowtown show. “[John and I] thought it would be a good solidarity move for the crew, you know… make it seem like this big multi-state happening.” But it really happened because of Melillo and Warner’s shared love of transcending the normal context, and limits, of music.

“[We] both pursue and demand the same things from music, and so just end up wanting to work together.” What are these demands? “We’re intrigued by the context of how people experience music. And finding ways to remove the elements that we don’t feel are necessary.” Such as, for example, the “weird ways that you get dirty, interacting with commerce, playing bars, just feeling like an incidental element in the way they make money.”

Keeylocko was meant to be an antidote. The parallels to Warner’s early experiences with hardcore shows are striking. For those shows, “everyone was there for the music, and it was a very cathartic music that brought people together in a really beautiful way. This sense of community that was there, it always felt like an intentional thing.” And indeed, when people get out to Keeylocko, it’s an intentional isolation: “It’s not just a stop in their night. Kind of trap them out there… So they’re committed to the experience and engaged in it.”


This series is oriented toward giving people a sense of the best music, and the best musicians, that Tucson has to offer. It’s directed as much outward as inward, as much to show people what the city is all about as to help the Tucson music community know itself.

But Warner, unlike any other profiled artist so far, gave me a sense of the risks in our collective headlong rush to make Tucson better. He came from Portland, after all.

“I obviously bring my baggage of what I went through… it was my home, and when I go back it doesn’t even look like my home anymore. I had that taken away.” Portland experienced its economic and cultural boom during the near-decade Warned lived there, and “this one little aesthetic of it, this one lifestyle, got magnified and thrust upon the whole city, whitewashed the entirety.”

One reason Warner came down here was to escape, to “step it down a notch to a smaller city. And I suppose my bigger plan is to keep doing that, to keep stepping it down.”

Tucson’s cultural renaissance is, perhaps, inevitably accompanied by gentrification. “Why is World Of Beer just the perfect example?” he laughs wryly. When the money comes in, the rent goes up, and the best things and people get forced out. “There’s a lot that stands to be lost… Money doesn’t give a fuck about your family or your community.”

On the other hand: “I think the way geography plays out here, in resources and weather and all that, you’re confronting your limitations and dealing with harsh truths a lot more… I think it’s built into Tucson to be a little scrappier and a little more self-reliant, a little more resilient” than Portland proved itself to be. “And hopefully, people will keep their wagons circled, ride this one out and enjoy it for what it is, and then – when and if it does pass – be able to just keep keepin’ on and doing what [they were] doing before.”


“I think that the majority of people in America only engage with joy through escapism… whether through inebriation, through trivializing or trying to lighten the load, to ignore things.” For Warner, more satisfaction is to be had through “confronting the hard truths… and transcending into joy.”

Part of his personal expression of that has been playing places like Keeylocko. But “if people like it, if people are inspired by it… They can do more of this.” Warner claims no exclusive rights to the place. He’d even prefer to come to an event someone else organized there, and just “howl at the moon.”

But he’s no less committed to his chosen role in the broader realm of music. As we lose more and more reverence for this world, we must remind people that music is not just a consumable, it is not just an aesthetic.  It is a truly sacred thing that has existed since we have been human beings.  It is our job, as musicians, to keep it sacred.  We are guardians of the grail.”

 (additional edits by O Ryne Warner)

Dreams Come True

OHIOAN with honorable guests Susan Alcorn (pedal steel), Jef Brown (tenor sax) and Hanna Choi (fiddle).  Featuring the unfuckwithable Andrew Joseph Weaver as the entire rhythm section.



Cowtown Keeylocko, located 40 miles southwest of Tucson near the Coyote Mountain WIlderness, is Ed Keeylocko’s Old West dream: a working ranch, a wooden saloon with sawdust floor, cows and horses, old-timers and rascals in the open air. Come out for good food and good music, and sleep under the stars with friends new and old.



OHIOAN (record release!)

SLOW MOSES (members of Califone, formerly known as Wooden Indian)






All are welcome and invited to camp overnight. Starts Saturday MAY 7 at 5pm, goes until Sunday MAY 8 at high noon.

From I-19, Go West on Ajo Highway 86, Turn left at Hayhook Ranch Road/Mile Marker 146 and go approx 4 miles to 1st Cowtown sign. Turn right & continue following the signs – Total of 4 “Cowtown Keeylocko” signs!

OHIO Sanctuary

Sanctity of Sanctuary: Paul Strauss and The Equinox Farm Trailer from Blis DeVault on Vimeo.


Rutland, Ohio, would seem an unlikely place for someone born in the heart of New York City, but at nineteen, disenchanted with consumerism, the Vietnam War, and a year of college, Paul Strauss left NYC to travel out west and landed in Taos, New Mexico. While in Taos, Paul was adopted by a Native American family and learned the value that a life connected to nature could provide. After hitching his way out of Taos, Paul stopped to help two men change a flat tire, and that accidental meeting set his path in life. Paul joined the two men headed for Hocking Hills, Ohio, to find the inexpensive land that they told him awaited. Once in Ohio, Paul bought his first 80 acres.
With over forty years of sound farming practices and knowledge of indigenous herbal plants, Paul has taken tracts of poorly farmed land, including strip mines, and turned them into his farm, a business, a school, and a sanctuary. As his sixtieth birthday approached, Paul became the first person to donate a parcel of his land, to the United Plant Savers organization.  United Plant Savers has dedicated the land as a Botanical Sanctuary with the purpose of preserving and studying endangered indigenous plants in Ohio.

Polyamory and the Privatization of Marriage



Group Of Friends Enjoying Beach Holiday

Polyamorists engage in “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.”
Photo by Mark Bowden/Thinkstock

Twelve years ago, Richard Gilmore walked into a party and laid eyes on Vicki for the first time. It was like a scene from a 1940s Hollywood romance.

“If you were to film it, it would be so sappy and saccharine, you wouldn’t believe it,” recalled Richard, now 60. “There was a crowd of people, but all I could see was her.” Vicki, now 63, noticed Richard too, and began to stare back. The chemistry between them was immediate and irresistible. They say it was love at first sight.

“Oh my God,” Richard thought at the time. “It really happens.”

But this is where the old Hollywood romance ends and another kind of love story begins. A few weeks later, after her magical first date with Richard, Vicki went home—to Jim, her husband of almost 20 years. “Why didn’t you want to come with us tonight?” Vicki asked Jim, after she told him all about the date. “I wanted you to have a chance to get to know Richard one-on-one,” Jim told her.

“Wasn’t that cool of him?” Richard recalled.

So as Richard and Vicki started dating, Jim and Vicki happily continued their marriage. Nine months later, Jim met a woman named Maria. Jim and Maria began to date, and then Richard and Maria started dating, too. Finally, in 2002, as the group of four piled on coats and scarves to go out one chilly evening, Richard stopped at the door and looked back at everyone.

“We’re really a family now, aren’t we?” he asked. They were—and they have been ever since.

Richard, Vicki, Jim, and Maria are polyamorists: people who engage in what has been described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.” Unlike polygyny, where one man is married to multiple women, most polyamorists aren’t motived by religion. Instead, they describe their relationships in language that should be familiar to anyone: It’s just what feels healthy, happy, and natural for them.

And despite the stereotype of polyamorists as sexual anarchists who wouldn’t be interested in legal marriage anyway, Robyn Trask, the executive director of polyamory support organization Loving More, said the group’s forthcoming survey found that 65 percent of poly families would choose to legalize their unions if they could, and an additional 20 percent would at least consider the option if it were available.

But seriously—is legal recognition of plural marriage just too complicated to ever be realistic? After all, government marriage comes with a whole list of associated burdens and benefits. Marriage laws influence alimony, health care, Social Security, hospital visitation, inheritance, criminal testimony, taxation, immigration, and more. Monogamous marriages are already vulnerable to marriage fraud, and polyamorous marriages could, in theory, open the door to even more radical forms of fraud—hundreds of people “marrying” for immigration purposes, for example, or criminal groups “marrying” to take advantage of spousal testimonial privilege. Maybe the pursuit of genuinely inclusive marriage equality isn’t worth the headache it would take to re-evaluate our tax, immigration, and criminal justice systems.

So let’s start with the fundamental question: What is marriage—and what do we want it to be? Is marriage a government program, meant to incentivize certain social goods? Is it a religious institution that should be separated from the state entirely? Is it a personal romantic choice?

In response to these questions, an alternative suggestion has emerged from an unlikely alliance between the far right and far left: Why not take the government out of marriage entirely? The list of people who have called for marriage privatization is long: libertarians David Boaz and Larry Elder, feminist Wendy McElroy, legal scholars Alan Dershowitz and Colin P.A. Jones, and leaders from Catholic, Orthodox Jewish, and other religious streams.

And they make a compelling case. Private marriage contracts, like private business contracts, could be established according to each family’s orientation and preference: heterosexual, homosexual, monogamous, polyamorous, or whatever. Religious marriage contracts could be established by the various religions—Catholic contracts, for example, might prohibit divorce, while fundamentalist Mormon and Islamic contracts could permit polygyny. (“Polygamy,” by the way, is technically a gender-neutral term that includes all plural marriages, regardless of the gender breakdown.)

Progressive and secular organizations could embrace a more inclusive definition of marriage without needing to campaign for government approval first. (And just to be totally clear, Twitterverse: Children, animals, and objects cannot sign any contracts and therefore could not sign private marriage contracts, either. OK?) Private marriage contracts, like business contracts, would be registered, recognized, and arbitrated by the state, but the families and nongovernmental organizations involved would be the only ones to set the specific contractual terms. Love, commitment, and family would define “marriage”—not the government.

To be fair, private marriage has its disadvantages. Many people argue that monogamous marriage is a social good, which the government should promote and incentivize with benefits. And there is a fair case that government marriage, albeit imperfect, is actually more egalitarian than private marriage would be, since a private system would empower religious and secular organizations, including ones that choose to discriminate. Finally, the legal institution of marriage arguably protects children (although government laws, such as child support, also protect nonmarital children) and it would be nearly impossible to fully privatize acrimonious divorce.

The privatization of marriage is especially controversial insofar as it relates to children. Government recognition of certain marriages is one of the ways the government endorses and promotes the monogamous (and, in some states, heterosexual) family structure it believes is best for children. But studies have found that diverse parenting environments, including polyamorous ones, aren’t necessarily better or worse for the children involved. In fact, children in some plural families can actually benefit from the increased resources, care, and flexibility that additional adults provide. From a global and historical perspective, the phenomenon of the two-parent nuclear family is relatively new, and not the only environment that can be healthy for children. The happiness and well-being of kids in all kinds of families (monogamous, polyamorous, heterosexual, homosexual, or single-parent) depend far more on things like stability, boundaries, support, and love—not on the private, responsibly conducted sex lives of the adults involved.

“I’m not his dad, I’m his Artie,” said Arthur, a 32-year-old polyamorist who has lived with his girlfriend, her husband, and their son for the past eight years. “But from the outside, you wouldn’t see a difference. When he was born, all three of us were there. When he cries in the middle of the night, all three of us are there. We’re as much of a family as anyone, just without the legal status.”

In either a public or private marital system, extending marriage access to plural families would obviously be very complicated. Why should we even care? Polyamorists are a minority, and they, unlike same-sex couples, arguably choose their lifestyle. It’s easy to ignore or marginalize them. But their families raise fundamental questions about how our government interacts with our sexual and romantic lives. Is marital status the best standard by which to determine access to government benefits, or could we find a better way through marriage privatization? If not, should we wrestle with the implications of government marriage until we find a public solution that is fair to everyone? Whatever the answer, conversations about widespread marriage equality are worth the legal, emotional, and intellectual work it takes to have them.

“Our lifestyle isn’t for everybody, but this is what works for us,” said Vicki. “We consider ourselves married. We consider ourselves a family. Sometimes love catches you by surprise. Why do we want to put boundaries around that?”



Three Censored TED Talks:

1. Graham Hancock – The War on Consciousness

Hancock’s TED Talk, “The War on Consciousness”, was deliberately removed from YouTube: “Graham Hancock’s talk, again, shares a compelling and unorthodox worldview, but one that strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science. While attempting to critique the scientific worldview, he misrepresents what scientists actually think…” Chris Anderson, [TED]. After some debate, this presentation was not fully re-posted to TED’s site, but rather subjugated to a new, unseen basement corner on TED’s site, limiting its future visibility.

Graham Hankcock is the author of major international bestsellers, his books have sold more than five million copies worldwide and have been translated into 27 languages. His works present the nature of consciousness, Ayahuasca, and altered states of consciousness and offer an essential examination of our culture.


2. Rupert Sheldrake – The Science of Delusion

TED also removed the recent talk by author and bio-chemist Rupert Sheldrake. In the bold debate about the nature of human consciousness, Rupert Sheldrake stands out for questioning the standing dogmas of modern science and for bringing us his fascinating theory of Morphic Resonance regarding the collective memory and the habits of nature.


3. Rick Hanauer – Rich People Don’t Create Jobs

Entrepreneur Rick Hanauer’s presentation is surrounded by controversy because after it was recorded, it was passed over for publication by TED. Stating that allegations of censorship are false, and that TED merely favored better presentations over Hanauer’s when deciding what to publish to their hugely popular website, TED publicly released the talk after suspicions were raised.
– See more at:

Sedgwick, Maine is first town to declare total food sovereignty, opposing state and federal laws



There is a food revolution taking hold all over America, whether it is in the form of demanding labeling of GM foods, the right to produce and sell raw milk and other commodities, or – in the case of Sedgwick, Maine – declaring all local food transactions of any kind free and legal.

According to the website, Sedgwick is the first city in the U.S. to free itself from the constraints of federal and state food regulation. Published reports say the town has passed an ordinance that gives its citizens the right “to produce, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing,” regulations be damned. The ordinance includes raw milk, meats that are slaughtered locally, all produce and just about anything else you might imagine.

And what’s more, three additional towns in Maine are expected to take up similar ordinances soon, said the

Gee – good, ol’ fashioned buyer-seller agreements?

Observers of the Sedgwick ordinance say it is much more than just “statement” legislation. Writes blogger David Grumpert, at

This isn’t just a declaration of preference. The proposed warrant added, “It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.” In other words, no state licensing requirements prohibiting certain farms from selling dairy products or producing their own chickens for sale to other citizens in the town.

What about potential legal liability and state or federal inspections? It’s all up to the seller and buyer to negotiate. “Patrons purchasing food for home consumption may enter into private agreements with those producers or processors of local foods to waive any liability for the consumption of that food. Producers or processors of local foods shall be exempt from licensure and inspection requirements for that food as long as those agreements are in effect.” Imagine that-buyer and seller can agree to cut out the lawyers. That’s almost un-American, isn’t it?

According to Deborah Evans, a Sedgwick citizen, the ordinance further states:

(1) Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home consumption.

(2) Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the products are prepared for, consumed or sold at a community social event.

For those questioning the legality of the ordinance – as in, it obviously circumvents state and federal food laws – she notes:

[W]e the radicals who concocted this mutinous act of infamy believe that according to the Home Rule provisions of our State Constitution, the citizens of Sedgwick have the right to enact an ordinance that is “local and municipal in character.”

‘It’s about time’

Many of the local farmers say the ordinance is just what is needed.

“This ordinance creates favorable conditions for beginning farmers and cottage-scale food processors to try out new products, and to make the most of each season’s bounty,” farmer Bob St. Peter told the website “My family is already working on some ideas we can do from home to help pay the bills and get our farm going.”

“Tears of joy welled in my eyes as my town voted to adopt this ordinance,” said Sedgwick resident and local farm patron Mia Strong. “I am so proud of my community. They made a stand for local food and our fundamental rights as citizens to choose that food.”

St. Peter, who is a board member of the National Family Farm Council, a food freedom advocacy group, notes that small farmers have a much tougher row to hoe, especially in today’s economy, so they need the ability to sell their products more freely.

“It’s tough making a go of it in rural America,” he said. “Rural working people have always had to do a little of this and a little of that to make ends meet. But up until the last couple generations, we didn’t need a special license or new facility each time we wanted to sell something to our neighbors. Small farmers and producers have been getting squeezed out in the name of food safety, yet it’s the industrial food that is causing food borne illness, not us.”


Learn more:


OHIOAN is back from the January West Coast tour. Lots of great memories and love from all peoples.
Highlights: cops broke up the Flagstaff houseshow 2.5 songs in, arrested the tenants. Then the audience helped us carry gear down the street and set up a different house. Rocking recommenced. Played a drone set at a yoga class in Prescott, then brought the yoga folk to our rockshow house party later that night, and everyone got a full-spectrum chakra cleansing. Denied entry into Canada due to criminal records, instead went to Bellingham, WA, crashed a Battle of the Bands, and won the hearts of “The City of Subdued Excitement”. Sam led an “experimental yoga” class at a record store in Portland, leading showgoers through the “Jimi sutra” and “dogward down”. Completely remodeled minds at a basement show in Portland, 2 encores and screams of “fuuuuuuuuuck yessssss!”

Here’s a clip from the homecoming show in Tucson:


Our good friend Adam Gnade over at Microcosm Distro posted this righteous list.

Here’s Adam with the details:

Out here on the Hard Fifty Farm we are pushing every day to live a life unbeholden to corporations, creditors, or general assholes. Removing yourself from the city can be a rough experience and we’ve had our share of disasters, fucked-up mornings, and canyon-deep lows. Here are some books that’ll help you get through…