The months of Fall are widely anticipated and greatly welcomed by those of us here in the desert southwest, as the days get a little cooler and the nights a little longer. Folks emerge from hibernation mode, and by the time we reach October, the social activity around town is shifting into high gear.
As we enter into the Season of the Dead, a large part of our collective energy and attention in those early fall weeks flows toward manifesting the All Souls Procession. Whether someone is getting down to work making creative memorial, hosting a fundraiser in support of the event, arranging for their families to come stay for the occasion, or piecing together their costuming, such things have become a definitive part of our cultural tradition here over all these many years, with such compelling power that they draw in others from afar to join us.
This year in particular though marks a very special milestone in Procession history, as well as Tucson history: we have arrived at the silver anniversary of the All Souls Procession! Who would have imagined that the seed planted by Susan Johnson in 1990 would have blossomed from a ragtag handful of costumed art enthusiasts filing down the sidewalks with their creations into the 100,000 strong, community-driven phenomenon of spectacle and spirit that fills the streets to the brim today? It is truly an incredible testament to the community willpower and to love that we are still here bringing it into being each year!
Coinciding with this quarter-century mark in the life of the All Souls Procession, we’re also seeing a watershed flourishing of the grassroots support needed to sustain it: from individuals, from local businesses, and from the City itself. Momentum has been building over these past few years, but we’re now crossing a definite threshold into the phase of total community ownership, with greater and greater numbers of contributors with every passing year.
Now, on to the fall news:
• First, we want to offer HUGE GRATITUDE to all of you for the upwelling of financial support you’ve offered in this and recent years! The debt on last year’s All Souls Procession was paid in full in record time, not long after New Year’s, and we are so much further along toward paying for this year’s event to come than ever before at this juncture.
Typically the monies raised from our Tucson Circus Arts summer Circus Camp sessions have been used to square away the final several thousand dollars of debt remaining on the previous year. Instead, this year the Circus Camp tuition money was freed up for other needs for the first time ever, and was used to provide a much-needed upgrade on server capacity for all our websites.
Here are a few examples of people in the community stepping up to help with the fundraising effort:
The Cardboard Ball fundraiser for the All Souls Procession workshops, hosted by workshop facilitator Mykl Wells and held at Maker House on September 27th, was not only a smashing success culturally with so many amazing costume creations and such enthusiasm, but also raised (roughly, after event expenses) something in the neighborhood of $2,000 for this year’s on-the-road workshop series around town.
Though the workshops are nominally free to attend, they do of course cost money to produce. If you intend to participate in this year’s workshops or have in the past and appreciate the value they bring to the people of Tucson, consider offering a few dollars toward their production, that more materials are made available for community creativity. Contributions are gratefully accepted at the workshops themselves, and online or snail-mail donations can be earmarked specifically for workshop production!
And don’t miss this interview here on The Mouth with workshop facilitator Mykl Wells, talking about just what kind of value these experiences have to offer us, as individuals and as a community.
Our friends at Cirque Roots and Sky Bar recently held a benefit hour on a Friday night for the All Souls Procession! Performers spun fire and mixed beats for tips from the crowd, while 20% of bar sales during showtime were earmarked for the Procession. $238 in tips and $145 from the bar totaled up to $383!
On Saturday, October 18, the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association is producing a day-long fundraiser on the Ave called “Fourth 4 All Souls”. Participating businesses will raise and contribute monies for the Procession through direct merchant support: look for donation boxes at select merchants, special products with percentage donation going toward All Souls Procession, events benefiting the Procession, and more! Hungry Ghost, the official busker and street donation troupe for the All Souls Procession, will be in attendance to amaze and amuse for your alms! A complete list of participating Fourth Avenue businesses will be made available in the coming weeks.
And the “Fourth 4 All Souls” fundraiser will culminate in Pop Cycle and The Surly Wench‘s annual Silent Art Auction and Burlesque Show for the All Souls Procession, from 4 pm until Midnight. The auction will feature art from some of Tucson’s most talented artists and goodies from some of the best shops in Tucson. Items will be available for bidding from 4-8pm at the Surly Wench Pub, and the announcement of winners will be followed by performances by the lovely Black Cherry Burlesque. Many thanks to these allies for their continued hard work to bring this benefit about year after year!
Our intention is to have the All Souls Procession Weekend fully funded by the end of Procession night, November 9, with street donations collected by Hungry Ghost finishing off whatever may remain. We can do this. Onward!
• Let there be Night of the Living Fest! Saturday November 8 at La Cocina, a day-long concert to benefit the All Souls Procession featuring much loved local bands and more! Details to be announced as they develop, so stay tuned.
• Some details for you about the All Souls Procession grand finale rite:
This year we welcome back Tucson taiko treasure Odaiko Sonora as our finale musicians, featuring many, many guests from here, there and everywhere! The ceremony will be modeled after elements of the Japanese Obon ancestor’s festival, and musicians will perform from a five-layered, 50 foot tall ziggurat constructed from 13 cargo containers.
Tiffany Tamarabuchi (founder of Sacramento Taiko Dan), Shoji Kameda (founder of the experimental taiko group On Ensemble), Aki Takahashi (member of Nagata Shachu and founder of Ten Ten), and Kyle Abbot will join Odaiko Sonora’s Nicole Stansbury, Rome Hamner, Tracy Baynes and Karen Falkenstrom as the Sky Drummers at the ziggurat’s topmost level.
Below at the base of the ziggurat will be 21 Earth Drummers, hailing from Washington, D.C., Vancouver, B.C., Minneapolis, Moab, Denver, Phoenix and all over California.
The main feature of this piece will be a chant, commissioned from Takahashi for the occasion, and the ceremony will close out in this way with participation from all who wish to join in. In addition to the Obon dance that Odaiko Sonora traditionally offers at this time of year in workshop for those who’d like to participate with them in Procession, practice of the chant will also be offered there as well as the making of toro-nagashi lanterns.
We will feature Odaiko Sonora in an interview for The Mouth in coming weeks where we’ll expand on all of this in greater detail….coming soon!
• Additionally, we would like to alert you to two new opportunities to place your prayer slips and memorial objects into the Urn. Once the Spirit Group has arrived with the Urn at the Mercado San Agustin finale grounds, the Urn will be moved into a Columbarium/Urn House until it moves backstage to be prepared for burning. The Columbarium structure will be sacred space at the center of the finale grounds, where people may come for connection with the Urn, themselves, each other, and those who have passed on. Aztral Folk will be offering songs nearby, and images submitted to the Ancestors Project will be projected onto its exterior surfaces.
Also, the Urn will be present at the Procession of Little Angels at Armory Park on Saturday, November 8 from 3 to 7 pm, where it may be accessed very easily and leisurely. We invite you to come place your offerings there at that time.
• We want you all to know about our official street donation busker troupe, Hungry Ghost. You will find them engaging the crowds with their antics in the stree and on stage at the 6th and 6th gathering location on Procession evening, in Procession itself, and at the Mercado San Agustin and Finale site.
Hungry Ghost is an outreach effort of Many Mouths One Stomach to help cast a much broader net for Procession financial support than we’re able to garner with our online presence alone. It’s an opportunity to reach those participants who we don’t have contact with at any other time of the year aside from at All Souls Procession, as well as a chance for those who haven’t yet contributed their support for the year’s event to do so. Every year from here on down the timeline we hope to have all outstanding expenses for that year paid for by the end of each All Souls Procession Weekend, and Hungry Ghost will aid in that effort.
Keep a lookout for the street performers that accompany University Pedi-Cabs carrying the large donation barrels, bearing red MMOS (Many Mouths One Stomach) armbands and Hungry Ghost/Feed The All Souls Procession signage! In theory, if everyone in attendance that night gave a mere dollar or two (and if we could possibly collect it all!), that alone would be enough to pay the expense of the entire event weekend.
So let your friends and family know, and please pitch in a few dollars if you can to the Hungry Ghost crew to help us reach our goal of total solvency by November 10!
As always, we thank you greatly for your support of this precious community tradition that brings so many of us together in a spirit of unity and love. It couldn’t be done without you.
• And lastly, we proudly wish to announce this year’s Dance of the Dead headlining performers at the Rialto Theatre: the Itchy-O Marching Band from Denver, CO, along with local gypsy-rock openers from Tempe, the Dry River Yacht Club! Itchy-O –a 32-piece ensemble of musicians, dancers, and Chinese Lion handlers (!)– will bring us their brand of amplified electro-drumline mania in a performer/audience-blurring event that promises to rouse even the most foot-weary Processionite into action! Not to be missed!!! Join us down at the Rialto immediately following the Grand Finale Urn burning ceremony for the official after-party and revel in the sounds offered up for us by these two incredible groups.
Stay tuned to our social media, website and email newsletters for more information as things develop throughout the season. We’ll see you all on the weekend of November 8 and 9 at the Procession of Little Angels and the All Souls Procession!
Much love always,
Many Mouths One Stomach