Psychedemia Benefit: Kenn Kweder, Discorporate, Michael Morrow Band
Words by Autumn Walden
What: Psychedemia Benefit Concert
When: Saturday, August 18th, 2012, 6pm-10pm
Where: Torrent Collective, 938 S. 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA
Suggested Donation: $10
It looks like the West Coast isn’t the only place where you can go to learn about mind expansion, psychedelics, and feeding your head. This Saturday, the organizers of the upcoming Psychedemia Conference at the University of Pennsylvania are hosting a benefit concert. For a suggested $10 donation, you’ll get to see Kenn Kweder—a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Discorporate—a punk, jazz, alt-rock band, and the Michael Morrow Band—a Jerry Garcia Band tribute. The latter of which Yours Truly is a backup singer.
I first learned of Psychedemia through a colleague at the University of Pennsylvania. From there, I learned about the research of Neşe Lisa Şenol, co-organizer of Psychedemia, and about the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies or MAPS. I had a chance to meet with Neşe, as well as Rebecca Lee, Arthur Auerbach, and Matthew Young, to discuss this weekend’s benefit concert and the Psychedemia conference, being held September 27-30, 2012.
TSI: How much do you hope to raise from the benefit?
Psychedemia: We’re hoping to draw about 200 people with a suggested donation of $10. The venue will take 50% of ticket sales, minus a $75 fee, so we’re looking at a little less than $1,000. We’re using it towards travel for our guest speakers who are scientists, academics, and artists, as well as for an art gallery, and filming. The Perelman School of Medicine has been our primary supporter and sponsor for this conference.
TSI: Why did you pick the Torrent Collective?
Psychedemia: It seemed very grassroots—a community of ideas. They were open to hosting progressive-type events and I think they’re trying to become a holistic school with art, music, yoga, and other classes.
TSI: How big is the team that’s organizing the event? Do you have any lessons learned or things you would have done differently in planning?
Psychedemia: There are about 7 core people, plus a bunch of peripheral support from volunteers. We started planning back in June 2011. If we could’ve started earlier, that would have helped. A lot of time has gone into corresponding with all the different people and groups involved—especially because everyone needs something from someone else to make things happen and everyone is so spread out. It would have helped to have some promoters who could dedicate themselves full-time. We’re all graduate students so we’re doing this in addition to school. That said, there’s been a lot of buzz about the conference—we’ve had people mention it at the Boom Festival in Portugal as well as out on the coast of California. It’s also been covered by the Philadelphia Daily News and Psychology Today.
TSI: How did you find the other* bands?
Psychedemia: Kenn Kweder plays every Thursday at Smokey Joe’s on Penn’s campus. We saw him there—he’s kind of a local celebrity and he’s from West Philly. After the show, we sent an email asking if he’d play our concert. He’s got a song about the poet/author Jack Kerouac. He’ll probably play some 60′s psychedelic music for the show. Discorporate is Neşe’s husband’s band and is their coming out show. They play an eclectic mix of music. In a way, it fits with the Academic/Psychedelic hybrid at the heart of the conference.
*Writer’s Note: I had just joined the Michael Morrow Band when I found out about the conference. Luckily, Neşe and Rebecca were in the beginning stages of booking so we got the gig. We play the music of the Jerry Garcia Band and many of Jerry’s songs from the Grateful Dead.
TSI: Who does the artwork?
Psychedemia: Ryan Moore did the concert poster—he’s also a part of the band, Discorporate. Ryan also has an art show at LaPelle Gallery in Olde City. Amanda Sage did our website. Justin Bonnet did the art for the conference flyer.
TSI: What music/bands do you like?
Psychedemia: Kenn Kweder—he’s so different! Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Shpongle, EOTO, AHEE, My Bloody Valentine, Heyoka, The Cure, The Magnetic Fields, The Black Angels, Man Man, Dr. Dog. Music is the quintessential way of reaching people at a live event. If you look up how the Grateful Dead got their name—it was during a form of divination called Bibliomancy. Jerry Garcia just opened up a dictionary and his fingers found the words.
Find out more about the Psychedemia Conference at psychedemia.org, You can join them on facebook at www.facebook.com/psychedemia and twitter @psychedemia, and find out when their group meets by joining the Theorizing Psychedelics facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/psychedelics.