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Culture Shock

Lotus Festival Recap 2021

After a year of isolation, Bloomington inhabitants and artists from around the world emerged in full bloom at this year’s Lotus World Music and Arts Festival.


Lotus Festival, which was established in 1994, draws its name from both Indiana musician Quinten “Lotus” Dickey as well as from the Lotus flower, which grows throughout the world. The annual festival celebrated both local musicians and different cultures on September 23-26, 2021 by hosting performances in different venues around Bloomington. The festival featured a mix of ticketed and free workshops and performances over its four-day span.


Saturday afternoon’s array of performances occurred at Switchyard Park and were free to attendees. One group that performed was Blato Zlato, a New Orleans-based Balkan band. Their name, which means “Swamp Gold” in Bulgarian, pays homage to marshy Louisiana. In their original songs, they sang of the water that feeds but also destroys New Orleans, which particularly resonates following the recent destruction caused by Hurricane Ida. The dark nature of their songs, which featured three-part harmonies and jilting rhythms, contrasted greatly to the sunny park and dancing audience they performed to.


On the other end of the park, groups gave musical lectures on the side stage. One such group called Nohe & Sus Santos covered traditional Latinx songs but also put their own spin on classics like Prince’s “Purple Rain.” The band plays music in the style of Huapango, a Mexican genre known for its complicated rhythms. Honduran vocalist Nohelia Sosa’s soulful voice beautifully offset the grooves created by the electric guitar, bass, and percussion.


Sunday’s closing performance featured Tuvergen Band at Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The Chicago-based group, which plays Mongolian-fusion music, impressed the audience with its wide array of handmade instruments. Singer Tamir Hargana manipulated his voice to sing multiple tones at the same time, in a practice commonly known as Mongolian throat singing. Alongside Hargana was percussionist Brent Roman who simultaneously played the didgeridoo, cymbals, drums, and bells and Naizal Hargana who played the Morin Khurr, a horse head fiddle with two strings.


After a year devoid of live music and community, the Lotus Festival brought together the two in a glorious display of talent. Through the free-spirited dancing of the attendees and the smiles on the musicians faces, it was easy to tell that everyone was happy to be there.


For more information on the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival visit:





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