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Lobo Marino talks to The Deli about Richmond, politics, and music

Recently I had a chance to ask some questions to Laney of Lobo Marino to learn a little bit more about what their music is all about.  Here's what I found out.

1. Lobo Marino seems like a group that could only exist in a city like Richmond that is so well known for creativity and the arts.  How has Richmond helped you grow as a band?

Richmond has been essential for us. First, in the sheer inspiration of being in a place surrounded by artist and activists.  Jameson and I met in Richmond working at a Vegetarian Restaurant called Harrison Street Cafe.  We both played in different bands, I was in an old time band called "Arise Sweet Donkey" and Jameson was in an experimental Hard Core band called "Our Stable Violent Star".  After Living together for a year in Richmond we decided to sell our things and spend a year traveling and working on farms in South America.  That year turned into multiple years of traveling.... But Richmond, full of friends and forever faithful would always welcome us back on whims.  Dozens of members of our Richmond Community took turns hosting us when we would come home for a month or two.  Our old job at Harrison Street would even take us back for temp work whenever we were in town. 

There is the amazing quality in Richmond... So many people come and go and come back again.  You can be gone for a year and when you come back you are welcomed home like you never left.  Someone might say "Hey! I haven't see you for a while" and you are like "well yea, I was just traveling cross country for six months" and they just shrug and you pick up right where you left off.  Once part of the community, you are always part of the community. 

2. I've read that you guys have opened up your home to serve as a meeting space for political action.  Could you talk a little bit about what kind of events you guys host and the types of political action are you trying to encourage through your activities?

We run a space called the Earth Folk Collective.  It is a 200-Year- old farmhouse that we are restoring on an acre of land in the city.  We grow a lot of our own food at the space and offer donation based workshops to the community on topics like composting, seed saving, mushroom cultivation, yoga, poetry, know your rights, collective living, basket weaving, self care.... All kinds of things.  The Richmond Herbalism guild uses our space for workshops and trade posts.  We have hosted many concerts and and community gatherings as well as art builds for protests. 

Because Richmond is the capital of the state of Virginia, we are a hub for protests.  In our garage we have a collection of drums that we use for our pop-up drum line which we bring out to actions and protests. Those drums lay beside a giant puppet that is also used for street actions and political parades. We are members of a political puppet troupe called "All the Saints Theater Company.  It is inspired by Bread and Puppet up in Vermont. There are so many amazing political organizations holding it down in Richmond these days and collaboration in art and action is a core characteristic of the scene. 

Richmond is also the hub of the company Dominion Power who holds the monopoly on Virginia's electrical infrastructure.  At the moment we are busy organizing statewide with grassroots groups to stop the massive network of natural Gas Pipelines that Dominion Power is trying to build across our state. 

Another issue related to Dominion and the environment is the concern for our water.  The James River runs through Richmond.  It is the heart of our city and the source of our drinking water.  Dominion power has huge power plants on the banks of the James.  For years these facilities have been burning coal and currently have hundreds of acres of land which are covered with coal ash ponds, areas where the left over coal fly ash is contained in water.  Many of these ponds are unlined and are leaking toxic heavy metals through the water table into our river. The EPA has required that the coal ash be contained in a safer way, but the technology for such a large scale project is not yet fully realized.  Last year Dominion was given a permit by the Department of Environmental Quality  to toxify the James river upstream from Richmond.  The people of our city freaked out and thousands marched to say that we would not allow this company to destroy the eco system of our sacred river. During this time our home was used to house art supplies for an awareness action.  I remember once our friend from Chesapeake Climate Action Network was painting a banner on our porch and the paint bled through the sheet and we ended up having the Governor's name "McAuliffe" painted on our porch.

3. Your new album is impressive, what's next for Lobo Marino and how do you guys see the project progressing in the coming months and years?

We have always wanted Lobo Marino to be grassroots. As we learn from the earth by growing our own food, we have learned a new type of patience. Lobo Marino is not a flash in the pan pop band.  We have been building this project for 7 years touring around the world playing DIYspaces,  intentional communities and spiritual communities. Our music is an expression of our life journey and right now it's all about sowing seeds and watching them grow.  We didn't feel like we needed a big promotional machine to birth our new album "The Mulberry House"... We look at it as though we have prepared the soil and sowed the seed and now we just have to wait and water every now and then. 

We continue to tour nationally and are planning an international tour next year. We are on the road playing music about 6 months out of the year. 


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