Rock the Earth
» The Mattaponi River and Cohoke Creek...
» Summer Tour Rolls On...
» RtE and the Everyone Orchestra...
» Bioneering Presence in Colorado...
» Upcoming Events...
» Camp Buzz Rocks the Earth...
» Matt Butler Rocks the Earth: Interview
» Rockin' the Earth in Puerto Rico: Photo

The Mattaponi River and Cohoke Creek Need Your Help!

King William Reservoir Project
The City of Newport News, VA is seeking permission from governmental authorities to construct a dam and reservoir (the King William Reservoir) on Cohoke Creek in King William County, VA. In order to fill the reservoir, water will be withdrawn from the Mattaponi River and sent to the reservoir on Cohoke Creek. The City of Newport News will then withdraw the water from the reservoir as needed.

What Does This Mean?

  • The 1526-acre, 12.2 billion-gallon reservoir on Cohoke Creek will represent the single largest loss of Virginia wetlands since the passage of the Clean Water Act.1
  • Studies suggest that the Mattaponi River is the most important shad spawning ground in the state and that removing water to fill and replenish the reservoir is expected to reduce the ability of American Shad to survive, especially in their early life stages.2
  • The Mattaponi Indian Reservation--one of the oldest tribal sovereign governments in the country-- is located along the banks of the Mattaponi River. American shad has always been at the center of the Mattaponi tribe's culture, and reduction in Shad populations could have significant cultural effects.3
  • A threatened fish species (Sensitive Joint Vetch) is located in the vicinity of the proposed project. Water withdrawals from the Mattaponi River may reduce the chances of survival for this already threatened species.4

What Can I Do To Help?

Presently, the State of Virginia Marine Resources Commission has approved its permit for construction of the reservoir project. On July 29, 2005, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) stated its intent to issue its federal Clean Water Act permit to allow for the filling of the wetlands. It appears that the ACE may issue its permit as soon as September 2005.

However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), an agency within the federal Department of the Interior, is vehemently opposed to the reservoir project due to the immense size of wetlands that would be destroyed (about 403 acres). Although ACE has indicated that it will issue a permit, on August 12, 2005, the FWS requested that a review of the project be elevated to the Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and the Assistant Secretary Craig Manson.

Please join Rock the Earth in opposing the King William Reservoir. We must convince Secretary Norton and Assistant Secretary Manson to oppose the ACE's intended action to issue the wetlands-destroying permit.

Please call the following individuals and tell them to:

  • oppose the Army Corps of Engineers' intention to issue the King William Reservoir permit
  • protect wetlands, and
  • Save the Mattaponi.

They need to know that we the public, whom they must answer to, are concerned about wetlands and will not be ignored.

  • Secretary Gale Norton 202-208-7351
  • Asst. Secretary Craig Manson 202-208-4684
  • Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis 202-225-4261
  • Senator George Allen 202-224-4024
  • Senator John Warner 202-224-2023
  • Governor Mark Warner 804-786-2211
  • Brig. General William T. Grisoli, Army Corps of Engineers 718-765-7018

Where Can I Get More Information?

Rock the Earth would like to thank Sugar Hill recording artist Scott Miller for suggesting this project to us.

2 Bilkovic, D.M., J.E. Olney, and C.H. Hershner. 2002a Spawning of American Shad (Alosa sapdissima) and stripped Bass (Morone saxatilis) in the Mattaponi & Pamunkey Rivers, VA. Fisheries Bulletin 11: 632-640 and Bilkovic, D.M., C.H. Hershner, and J.E. Olney. 2002b Macroscale assessment of American Shad Spawning and Nursery habitat in the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers, Virginia. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 22(4): 1176-1192.

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Summer Tour Rolls On and On with Jack Johnson

After successful stints on tours this Summer by Gov't Mule, The String Cheese Incident (on the BIG Summer Classic tour), Ani DiFranco as well as a number of hugely popular festivals such as the All Good and 10,000 Lakes Festivals, Rock the Earth was invited to table the entire tour by Jack Johnson.

Hawaiian born Johnson is one of the most popular artists in the United States, selling out every night this summer in venues as small as the Santa Barbara Bowl and as large as The Gorge and Deer Creek (a/k/ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater). Supporting acts on this tour include our friends ALO and Matt Costa. RtE Staff and Volunteers are out there at nearly every stop on the 32-city tour through August and September educating fans about our organization, important environmental issues and signing up new members. Meanwhile, throughout the tour, Jack has been walking the environmental walk, utilizing biodiesel in all of his tour busses and trucks, organic fabrics for tour merchandise, organic food and biodegradable plastic water bottles for catering, and promoting environmental causes by inviting nonprofits like RtE and Surfrider to table his shows. In addition, Jack has pledged to donate 1% of the proceeds of the tour to organizations certified by One Percent For the Planet.

Along those lines, during the concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl on August 10, Jack surprised us all by announcing from the stage that the proceeds from the performance were going to be awarded to the five environmental groups tabling the show! We are most humbled and moved by Jack's generosity and while the exact amount of the award is uncertain as we go to press, it suffices to say that we are incredibly grateful for the recognition and the kind gesture. For the latest news, reports and photos from the road, visit our online tour journal.

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RtE and the Everyone Orchestra Rock 10,000 Lakes Festival

Over the weekend of July 22-24, Rock the Earth Executive Director, Marc Ross, took the stage at the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota to perform with the Everyone Orchestra. The Everyone Orchestra (EO) is the brainchild of former Jambay percussionist and RtE Advisory Board Member, Matt Butler. Performing as a band of rotating musicians, the EO creates new shows several times a year usually to benefit a particular charity or nonprofit organization. Members of the EO have included members of Phish, the Grateful Dead, the String Cheese Incident, ALO, the Disco Biscuits, and many other bands. On this day at 10K Lakes, the band consisted of Butler, members of ALO and Delta Nove, Jamie Janover (Zilla), Reed Mathis (Jacob Fred Jazz Oddessy), Steve Kimock, Ben Griffin (Signal Path) and Marc Ross (RtE).

Marc took the stage about two-thirds of the way through the improvisational set to perform some spoken word. The following was the poem that Marc added to the performance:

The Earth is Rocking

Water and Air
Water and Air
It's in the water
It's in the air
We can taste it
We can smell it
We know it's there.
The earth is rocking
The earth is rocking
Can you feel it?
Can you feel it?
She is crying out
And we are riding and rolling
Breathing and swimming
In the water and air.
The winds of change blow hard
But can you breathe the air?
The earth is rocking
and you can tell
and you can tell
By the water and the air.

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Rock the Earth: A Bioneering Presence in Colorado

For a second consecutive year, Rock the Earth is proud to be a Co-Producer of the Boulder Bioneers Conference, October 13-16 on the campus of the University of Colorado. Bioneers is the preeminent gathering of leading scientific innovators & environmental visionaries who offer practical solutions to the most pressing environmental and social issues of our time. The Boulder Bioneers Conference will serve as an opportunity for Colorado activists and artists to gather and discuss ideas for creating more sustainable communities, both environmentally and socially.

Rock the Earth and our fellow co-producers have put together an exciting array of sessions on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, ranging from discussions of Art and Activism to Green Business and Renewable Energy. Plenary speakers will be beamed in from the main Bioneers Conference each morning, and a green business marketplace will run throughout the weekend. To register for this exciting conference, visit the Boulder Bioneers website at

The conference kicks off at the Boulder Theatre on Thursday, October 13 with a very special advance screening of "I Know I'm Not Alone", followed by a solo acoustic performance by Michael Franti. The evening will serve as a benefit for Rock the Earth and Bioneers. Details on tickets will be available soon at the Boulder Bioneers website.

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Upcoming Events: Festival Season Rocks On!

Summer may be winding down but RtE is still rockin' on! This weekend in Colorado, August 27th & 28th, is the Nederland Music & Arts Microbrew Festival in beautiful Nederland, CO. Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this two-day festival brings a variety of music, crafts, local microbrews and non-profits into this quiet mountain town for a small family festival to close out the summer. Come see the music of Kan'nal, The Motet, Tony Furtado Band, Fareed Haque Group, Shanti Groove and many more. Don't forget to stop by to say hi to RtE's staff and volunteers or sign up for membership! As always, we have special gifts for new and renewing members at all of our events!

In the Midwest this weekend, August 27th & 28th, you can find our RtE volunteers at the Friends of UV, Nature & Knowledge (aka F.U.N.K.) Festival, held at the Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park & Campground in Bean Blossom, Indiana. This festival brings together the power of music and nature for a weekend of workshops and talks about nature awareness, social and environmental issues, and, of course, music! Drawing inspiration from Victor Wooten's Bass Nature Camp, with performances by Victor Wooten, Keller Williams, Umphrey's McGee and many others, this weekend festival connects our passion for the environment with our love of music. Buy your tickets now - members of RtE can get discounted tickets for only $55! Contact us at for more information.

We're bringing our festival season to a close this weekend in Colorado and Indiana, but will continue heading east on the Jack Johnson Tour for another month of incredible shows at venues such as the Verizon Wireless Music Center (aka Deer Creek), IN, the World's Fair Park in Knoxville, TN, Minzer Park Amphitheatre in Boca Raton, FL, Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, PA and Central Park in NYC. Stay posted on these shows through our website, where you can see a list of upcoming events and read our online tour journal!

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Camp Buzz Rocks the Earth

On September 16 & 17th, 2005, Camp Buzz returns to Camp America in College Corner, Ohio, just 25 miles north of Cincinnati. But Camp Buzz 2005 is unlike previous festivals. This time around Camp Buzz will tie into the "global dance for peace" event, as well as benefit

Camp Buzz will donate 50% of proceeds to Rock the Earth to support the EarthDance mission, which is explained as, "To promote peace by joining participants worldwide in a synchronized prayer for peace and to support humanitarian causes through the global language of music and dance." Rock the Earth is an environmental advocacy group working to ensure the existence of a sustainable and healthy environment for all. The new focus on consciousness reflects the interests of Buzz and his partners in the festival production. "We want to get people involved and interested in two issues that are so important to our future on this planet…peace and our environment," said Ryan "Buzz" Bussey.

For more information, visit the Camp Buzz website. Tickets may be purchased at JamBase Tickets.

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Matt Butler Rocks the Earth

RtE Advisory Board Member Matt Butler, musician/activist/conductor, founded the Everyone Orchestra in 2001 and has continued on an improvisational journey, both in music and in life. Matt is from and currently resides in Eugene, Oregon. While touring the nation relentlessly in the early 90s with jam-scene innovators Jambay, Butler and friends conceived beautiful music, yet Matt eventually retired from the intense touring life to focus on creating more organic music. His critically- acclaimed Redwood Project CD proved his devotion to environmental justice by contributing a portion of the proceeds to protect the coastal forest ecosystems of Northern California.

Expanding creatively into a project called The Everyone Orchestra has allowed Butler to share his environmental and artistic visions with entertainment excellence by sharing the stage with such musicians as Steve Kimock, Bob Weir, Jon Fishman, Billy Nershi, Michael Travis, Col. Bruce Hampton, Derek Trucks, Kai Eckhardt, Fareed Haque, Jessica Lurie and dozens of others all while holding true to Butler’s vision of activism through music. Everyone Orchestra events have raised meaningful funds for a wide variety of non-profit organizations including the Rex Foundation, Sierra Club, The Pangaea Project, Cascadia Forest Alliance, Make A Wish Foundation, Headcount, and more.

In addition to having philanthropic connections, Everyone Orchestra shows are designed to create space for each performer's musical personality to shine, engage the audience as participants in the jam and facilitating a massive celebratory coming together. Butler hardly holds back while performing with Everyone Orchestra as drummer/ conductor/glue with boundless energy and enthusiasm.

RtE: What environmental issue(s) do you consider to be the most critical at this time?

Renewable energy and forest protection. It's obvious that the world is being led down a path of destruction if we continue to embrace fossil fuels as our means of energy. Acknowledging this and actively sourcing solutions is crucial right now. And we need to protect what remains of our forest system and search out alternative ways of producing products that so much forest is consumed to create. Ah, Shade on a summer day. We all like it and so does mother earth.

RtE: What has inspired you to combine environmental activism with your music?

I was partly inspired by what I learned at meditation retreats and dharma talks on Wise Livelihood as described by the Buddha. Then at a crossroads in my career, I was asked to compose music that captures the spirits of the forest for a documentary film about the plight of the ancient redwoods in Northern California. Musically and spiritually this inspired me like I had been never before and then Julia Butterfly Hill and her 2 year tree sit really lit a fire under my butt to do something significant in combining music and activism.

RtE: Where is your favorite place in nature to go to find solace or inspiration?

Old growth redwoods in Humboldt and Mendocino county.

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Rockin' the Earth in Puerto Rico: Photo

Rock The Earth members Dave & Lisa Werber in Culebra, Puerto Rico

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