Sweetlife Music + Food Festival: Eat Local. Music Local. Lana del Rey.





party with a purpose

WHAT: Music + Food Festival that celebrates Sustainability + Gives Back. Sweetgreen, a restaurant started in 2007 by 3 college students, thinks sustainability and makes an impact. Locally sourced + organic ingredients from trusted partners + farmers feed Sweetgreen goers and DC, MD, VA, + NYC schools. Proceeds from Sweetlife are donated to FoodCorps, the Sweetgreen partner.

WHERE: Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, MD.

to connect people through food

WHEN: Sweetgreen started in 2007 + Sweetlife began in 2010 behind Sweetgreen’s Dupont location. What started as a 500-person gathering in a parking lot has evolved into a festival to connect people through food + now, through music.

WHY: Community + Education + Farmers + Music + Sustainability + Food. To get why + to see the larger picture, you have to check out the story. Sweetlife Festival + Sweetgreen say it all.

FAVS: Lana Del Rey, Bombay Bicycle Club, Capital Cities, Hozier {Ireland}

#eatlocal #drinklocal #musiclocal #LanadelRey

I cannot contain my excitement. This festival embodies every single last thing I could ever hope for in my entire life. And it’s a celebration of my good friend Katie Regan’s Dirty Thirty. I first met Katie when I was a sophomore in college, visiting SUNY Geneseo for New Year’s Eve. In the near 10 years since I’ve known her, Katie has proven to be the most adventuresome go-getting fun-loving fly-by-the-seat of her smarty-pants fashionista I know. Sweetlife Music Fest + Lana del Rey?? Katie’s idea. Happy Early Birthday Katie. Here’s to the dirty.

I sing the body electric baby

I’m stoked for so many of the acts, even 2 Chainz. But. Let’s face it. #LANA. I love Lana del Rey. I don’t remember the 1st time I heard Lana. I don’t remember the 1st time I fell in love with Lana. Because Lana is entrancing. Lana entrances me. Every single last 1 of Lana’s lyrics on her 2 critically acclaimed albums, Born to Die + Paradise, speak to my soul. I have a snake on my tattoo, and I have the ivy + the ink blue, and I got this Eve tattoo before Paradise even broke. Lana + I are soul mates.

Lana is my National Anthem

Tryin to tell me to wait until Saturday, but I can’t wait to see you, Lana. I hope you like this anthem. For Lana + for Sweetlife.

Sweetlife is the anthem of success, so  I will put on mascara + my party dressThis is what makes us girls, after all. Also, I’ve been out on that open road; I’ve been traveling too long, I’ve been trying too hardI need to sing the Body Electric, baby. I need to hear Lana. We get down [this Saturday] night, dancing + grinding in the pale moonlight. I will pretend I’m not hurt, + go about the world like I’m having fun. Because this weekend, at Sweetlife with Lana, I am. Finally, Katie + Meg + I are the lucky ones. Seeing Lana at Sweetlife,  feels like, feels like, You know it feels like falling in love for the first time.

It’s supposed to thunderstorm this Saturday in Maryland, but I don’t care. I know that I’m a mess with my long hair and my [neon pale skin], [long] dress, bare feet. I don’t care what they say about me. I can handle some rain + mud. Because before Sweetlife, I was in the land of gods + monsters, I was an angel looking to … see Lana. No one’s going to take my soul {or this concert} away. I’m living like Jim Morrison. And I cannot wait!! I cannot wait to feel it in the air. Telephone wires above sizzling like a snare. We’re going to be young, be dope, be proud, Like an American. Like a lover of all things Lana + sustainable + sweet. By the time I leave Sweetlife, I’ll be all: I don’t want to wake up from this tonight. Fact.

Hot summer days. Rock ‘n’ roll. The way you play for me at your show: let’s face it Lana. You are playing for me at this show. You are playing for me at Sweetlife. Will I still love you when you’re no longer young + beautiful, Lana? Yes. Your music + your soul are forever beautiful. Forever wild.

Lana: I would love you ’till the end of time. I would wait a million years. Thankfully, you’re in concert more than once a year. And thankfully, Sweetlife is happening again next year. Feet don’t fail me now. Take me to the finish line Oh my heart breaks every time I get a migraine. The road is long, we carry on Try to have fun in the meantime. Plus, I’m a warrior and have been fighting these migraines off like a champ. If I start to get one, I’ll drink Coca Cola. But Lana sure makes a compelling argument for Pepsi Cola. Lana, you know I got a soul as sweet as blood-red jam + you, Lana, laugh like God, your mind’s like a diamond.

It’s almost like I know you, Lana, like I walked with you once upon a dream. I know you, that look in your eyes is so familiar a gleam. Thank you for singing to me at Sweetlife, Lana. I need this. I need this Sweetlife.



Yayo {pre-intro}

National Anthem

This Is What Makes Us Girls


Body Electric

Lucky Ones


Gods + Monsters

Summertime Sadness


Dark Paradise

Blue Jeans

Young + Beautiful

Born 2 Die


Off To The Races


Once Upon A Dream









Music Local. Liana Gabel and Rest + Heal.

{All Photos taken from Liana’s Website. All energy + soul. See for yourself.}




“I like the challenge of making my feet more percussive.”

tap dancing

Liana tap dancing + using her feet as an instrument.

From: Rochester, NY {Ogden}.

High School: Churchville-Chili.

Grew Up On: Italian songs + arias sung by her Nono Tony.

Muses: Dreams, The Natural World, People.

Pop Corn: Fav snack – home popped pop corn with coconut oil, salt, pepper, + nutritional yeast.

Eco Friendly: 1.5 years living in a cabin without running water, without electric/gas heat, with a composting toilet, and baths in a local stream when warm enough.

Tap Dancing: Classically trained singer who plays guitar and uses her feet as a percussive instrument.

Home: New Paltz.


Liana knows how to move energy because Liana is all the good energy.


4.5.2014 : Bug Jar. I 1st met + watched Liana perform the same night I saw this powerhouse. Liana entranced me. While she sometimes plays with her band who are also members of their own band Los Doggies (heard on her Rest + Heal), when I saw Liana at The Bug Jar on Monroe Ave, she played alone. Center stage. Guitar holding. Feet shuffling. Notes rising + falling. Energy moving.

“I love to move energy when I have the power to with music and performance.”

And move energy she does. She moved me. I meandered to the front. Rooted my feet. I let Liana’s words + timber + tone + notes wash over me. Then I let them move me. The juxtaposition of her obviously well trained voice to the simple, raw, + real humanity of her lyrics to the complexities of her sounds. I had to know more.

playing and grass

I would watch Liana give a concert in the tall + wild grass.

Liana Gabel + her “Rest & Heal” Album is 1st to spotlight a #MusicLocal series. 

What a true honor to write this interview about Liana Gabel and her music. Her experiences, meaningful + talent, so deep: this is why we #MusicLocal. To know + experience artists like Liana and music like “Rest & Heal.”  Truly, I’m tempted to just copy/paste the email Liana sent to answer my interview questions. Her words and story, that rich. But then again, you can just catch a performance + meet her yourself, yes??


Between North Chili and Spencerport, Liana grew up in the town of Ogden {I call everything Rochester, so}, and she graduated from Churchville-Chili high school. After a semester at Monroe Community College, Liana graduated with a degree in Jazz Studies as a vocalist from SUNY New Paltz. Liana explains she became classically trained “more out of necessity than anything.” While “not ever a big fan of” classical training, Debussy and Puccini are Liana’s favorites within the genre. {Girl got class.}

liana + scarf

Classically trained + grew up on Nono Tony’s opera.

Roots. Nono Tony. Before World War II hit, Liana’s grandfather, who immigrated to Rochester in 1965 from Bologna Italy, studied to be an opera singer. Cook, tailor: when the war hit, Nono’s school closed down and he took other odd jobs to support his family. “Although he was never able to make it a career, my grandfather was always singing,” Liana writes. “Neither of my parents were musicians, but my nono sang opera, and would sing me Italian songs and arias as a little girl. Those are some of my first music memories.”

“but my nono sang opera, and would sing me Italian songs and arias as a little girl.”

While her parents worked, Liana sang for Nono Tony and Nona Pasqua. Nono’s favorite? O Sole Mio. “That is the song he first taught me. My Nono Tony was my first true musical inspiration and the only musician in my family.”

“the guys would always play guitars. I thought if they could do it, I could too, so I started taking lessons at Stutsmen’s.”

Musician. Until Liana, that is. Aside from her classical training + writing songs with her “entire range in mind,” Liana also plays guitar and percussion with her feet. “I consider my feet an instrument,” Liana writes me, “although I am still learning to use them as one,”. Inspired to learn guitar by her sister’s boyfriend’s band, Five Mile Line, Liana spent hours alone in her room listening to CDs and–Bob Marley’s Redemption Song–Liana learned songs from her favorite writers. Another reason I dig Liana?? “I also couldn’t stand watching or hearing the television (still can’t),” she explains, “so it was the best way I could tune it out in my family’s home.” {I relate girl. No TV in my apartment.}

guitar palying II

Strumming the heart strings.

“I just write lyrics. I have been writing lyrics for as long as I have had crushes on boys I think.”

Writer. By now, you know that Liana is a storyteller. “Once I got started on guitar, I began writing,” she recalls. As previously admitted, this entire post should  be cut + pasted directly from the email Liana sent, her words and images and experiences, that compelling. And natural. And real. As are Liana’s lyrics in Rest & Heal. Here’s an excerpt from the interview I sent Liana where I totally fangirl hard + break form with the interview questions:

UNIQUE WRITING STYLE – YES. I AM OBSESSED WITH YOUR WRITING STYLE. “Big Sur” is currently my favorite and, from the first syllable, you showcase your story telling/narrative capabilities. And you construct it with the impact of flash fiction. Beginning a song with, “Nearly,” that word alone, frames everything. Compelling. I love it.

Then there’s “Better” where you use the most common everyday interaction that everyone probably purposefully forgets—and so of course you choose this, because we can all relate to it and yet we all neglect it and so you draw attention to it for a) a cause and b) to get our attention—and you turn an entire lifetime into 1 mini-vignette; 1 persons’ “otherness” into needs we all have. I mean. That is genius storytelling. And you do it lyrically. Incredible.

rest and heal

Rest & Heal Album Art. Print by Artist Carla Bartow.

(Print: Artist Carlow Bartow)

Soulful Tune. “Big Sur” + “Better” are just 2 of 10 songs I absolutely love + respect. Liana writes: “‘Big Sur’ is a big favorite on the album. I have heard this from many folks.” Yes. Because “Big Sur” makes listeners feel like we’re at Big Sur, even if only vaguely familiar with its locale {Nor Cal}. The subdued melodies and subtleties softly lull listeners into the throws of our own emotions. I want to listen to “Big Sur” like I want to breathe the air of a “nearly full moon,”. I want to ask all of the questions “Big Sur” poses, with my last dying breathe. I love this song. You do, too.


  1. New Paltz. Anyone down for road trip? A) Liana lives + mostly plays there. B) I love New Paltz. Swear if I’d known more about it, I would have gone to college there. (Sorry Pittsburgh.)
  2. Gabel Fest. August 16, Churchville, NY. “[O]nly the best Rochester music fest ;).” {Direct quote from Liana.}
  3. Lilac Fest. Let’s get Liana in for the line-up next year!!
  4. Jazz Fest. Not yet … but Liana will make it happen. Her music will make it happen.

“I usually describe my music to people as ‘jazzy folky pop rock,’.”

Healing + Restful. I’ve listened to Rest & Heal almost every single day coming back and forth from work. I cannot thank Liana enough. Stories. Lyrics. Notes. Voice. Rhythms. Lessons. Love. Throughout this incredibly trying month in an already very messy year, Rest & Heal has helped me do exactly that. This will be the best $10 you ever spend. Trust me. Trust Liana. This woman, 26, knows life.

“I am ready to go wherever music takes me. I know it will take me to many wild and beautiful places with incredible people.”

Here’s to some “jazzy folky pop rock,” + some of the best Local Music we will see + hear. Here’s to “Rest & Heal,” which, I promise you, we all could use.

guitar playing

Wild + beautiful places. Wild + beautiful Liana.

Thank you Liana!!