Free World Music Concerts Included at Stern Grove Festival’s 72nd Season

Totó la Momposina
Totó la Momposina
San Francisco’s Stern Grove Festival features a stellar line-up of world-class performers, including the “Queen of Cumbia” Totó La Momposina, salsa-reggae king Sergent (Sargento) Garcia, Curumin’s Brazilian funk, R&B songstress Roberta Flack, folk music legend Joan Baez, Bollywood star Kailash Kher’s Kailasa, French soul group Les Nubians, Bay Area cultural icons the San Francisco Symphony, and much more.

 The 10 admission-free concerts will be held Sundays at 2:00 p.m. from June 21 through August 23, 2009 at Sigmund Stern Grove, located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco. Every summer, Stern Grove Festival presents world-class performing arts in one of the country’s most beautiful natural settings, completely free of admission.
 About the Performers:

June 21 – Roberta Flack and Davell Crawford

Stern Grove Festival’s 72nd Season kicks off with R&B songbird Roberta Flack, whose sultry voice and poignant lyrics have won over audiences and critics alike for over forty years. In 1973 and 1974, Flack became the first artist to win back to back Grammys for Record of the Year for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly.” She continues to create relevant and influential music, regularly recording with popular young artists, including Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys, and is currently working on her fifteenth album.

The Prince of New Orleans, Davell Crawford has spent his twenty-two years introducing venues around the world to the vibrancy and energy of his hometown’s piano traditions, incorporating the best of Jazz, Gospel and R&B. Grandson of jazz legend “Sugar Boy” Crawford, Davell keeps American roots music alive and kicking.

Today’s performance is dedicated to the memory of Rosalie M. Stern, donor of Stern Grove to San Francisco and founder of the Stern Grove Festival Association. Concert radio sponsor is KBLX 102.9 FM.

June 28 – Les Nubians and Asa

Sisters Helene and Celia Faussart are responsible for the rich harmonies of French duo, Les Nubians. Their smooth R&B influenced jazz has gained them recognition as Best New Artist, Group, or Duo at the 1999 Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards and two NAACP Image Award nominations. The single “Makeda” from their second album, One Step Forward, introduced audiences in the States to the sisters as a Billboard R&B Top Ten Single.

Paris-born, Nigeria-raised Asa spent most of her childhood searching for her voice, and has found it in a blend of Yuruba, Lagos urban beats, and classic soul. Asa’s deep pitches and infectious melodies have hooked fans all over the world, spreading her messages of tolerance and hope.

July 5 – San Francisco Symphony and Inouye Jazz

Stern Grove Festival presents an annual favorite, the celebrated San Francisco Symphony, with conductor James Gaffigan. The afternoon kicks off at 2:00 p.m. with an opening performance by “Inouye Jazz” featuring principal trumpet player Mark Inouye accompanied by members of the San Francisco Symphony. At 3:00 p.m., the San Francisco Symphony will perform excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Opus 23 with pianist Inon Barnatan, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, and music by Leonard Bernstein from the movie On the Waterfront.

July 12 – Joan Baez and Blame Sally

For over fifty years, guitar and folk legend Joan Baez has been making music as a means of drawing social consciousness to both the ills and joys of the human condition. In the 1960’s and 70’s, she stood alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, and performed at benefit festivals with powerhouses, including Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, around the world. Baez continues to create soulful pieces dedicated to the art form she drastically influenced, releasing the Grammy-nominated album Day After Tomorrow in 2008.

San Francisco based folk-pop group Blame Sally represents what is possible when four talented females collaborate to tell stories through powerful lyrics, eclectic instrument choices, and unique melodies. They have been featured on Neil Young’s website Living with War, performed at festivals nationwide, and are celebrating the release of their fourth album this spring.

Today’s performance is made possible with support from the Rhoda H. Goldman Memorial Fund and is dedicated to the memory of Rhoda H. Goldman, Festival Chair from 1968 to 1996.

July 19 – Sergent Garcia and Curumin

As the French King of Salsa-reggae, Bruno “Sergent” Garcia is pioneering a movement in the blending of diverse musical styles, from reggae to cumbia and salsa, and taking cues from urban cultures around the world. Garcia, formerly the guitarist for cult punk rock group Ludwig Von 88, recently released his fifth album, Mascaras, continuing to push the boundaries of cultural divides.

Luciano Nakata Albuquerque, a.k.a. Curumin, has spearheaded the rebirth of classic funk in Brazil, fusing the sound with samba, reggae, and hip-hop. The electronic beats of his hit single “Guerreiro” have been featured in Nike commercials, beverage ads, and video games worldwide.

July 26 – The Lyrics Born Revue, The Mighty Underdogs, and more

Stern Grove Festival presents an afternoon of the Bay Area’s hip-hop heroes, featuring The Lyrics Born Revue, The Mighty Underdogs and special guests.

Lyrics Born is the epitome of the Bay Area hip-hop scene—driven, talented, and a tad silly. Hit singles “Callin’ Out” and “I Like It, I Love It” have been featured in advertisements for Nokia, Diet Coke, and Vans and in hit television shows like Entourage and Gossip Girl, as well as the 2009 movie remake of Friday the 13th. Everywhere at Once, his eighth album, was released in 2008 on Epitaph Records to critical acclaim, proving Lyrics Born’s unique brand of lyricism is true artistry.

Heavyweights Lateef the Truth Speaker, Gift of Gab, and Headnodic teamed up in 2007 to break up preconceived notions of hip-hop as Bay-Area based super group The Mighty Underdogs. Dropping Science Fiction, their 2008 debut album, speaks to love, revenge, and alternate reality set to hypnotizing rhythms.

August 2 – Kailash Kher’s Kailasa and Delhi 2 Dublin

Bollywood star Kailash Kher has known since childhood the power of tradition and culture. As a boy he emulated his father’s Sufi folk songs and began to craft his own dynamic versions of classic Indian styles. Kher’s earthy and raw voice enlivens the rock influenced works by brothers and band mates Naresh and Paresh Kamath, creating a unique and soulful melding of old and new. From singing jingles to judging Indian Idol and starring in films, Kher has become an international sensation.

The distinct traditional sounds of Ireland and India collide with drum and bass in Dehli 2 Dublin’s crowd moving performances. The five-piece group from Vancouver, Canada features a sitar, fiddle, dohl, and tabla harmonized over dance inducing beats.

August 9 – Toto La Momposina y Sus Tambores and Nation Beat

Totó La Momposina, born Sonia Banzanta Vides in Mompox, Colombia, keeps her culture alive by bringing traditional cumbia, a blend of African, Spanish, and South American influences, to audiences around the globe. Her dynamic stage presence is the culmination of four generations of performers, combining dance, storytelling, song, and rhythm.

The Brazilian rhythms of maracatu meet the soul of Southern country rock in the tunes of Nation Beat. The Brooklyn based group’s eclectic grooves have brought the band meteoric success and they recently partnered with Willie Nelson at the 2008 Farm Aid Festival.

August 16 – San Francisco Ballet
Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director

San Francisco Ballet returns to Stern Grove Festival with artists of the Company performing a selection of works from their current repertory. San Francisco Ballet is America’s oldest professional ballet company, renowned for its incomparable level of innovation and exuberance that has sustained its standing as one of the premier ballet companies in America.

August 23 – San Francisco Opera

Stern Grove Festival’s 72nd Season finale features the renowned San Francisco Opera Orchestra with tenor Marco Berti. Heralding the arrival of San Francisco Opera’s new Music Director Nicola Luisotti, the afternoon focuses on great Italian opera, including selections from Un Ballo in Maschera, Cavalleria Rusticana, Tosca, Turandot, La Wally, Adrianna Lecouvreur, and more.

Berti, who stars as Manrico in San Francisco Opera’s 2009 season-opening production of Il Trovatore, is one of the opera world’s greatest tenors for the dramatic Italian repertoire singing regularly in San Francisco, La Scala, the MET, Vienna, Munich, Chicago, Verona, and London. Adler Fellows Leah Crocetto, Daveda Karanas, Heidi Melton, and Tamara Wapinsky will also perform and Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi will conduct.

Today’s performance is dedicated to the memory of Elise S. Haas, Festival Chair from 1956 to 1968.

Stern Grove Festival’s 72nd Season is made possible with support from Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Wells Fargo, and media sponsors KPIX – CBS 5, KBCW – The CW 44 Cable 12,, 7×7 Magazine, and SF Weekly.

Admission and Access

All concerts begin at 2:00 p.m. at Sigmund Stern Grove, located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard (in San Francisco’s Sunset/Parkside district).

All Stern Grove Festival events are Admission-free; no tickets are required. Concertgoers are encouraged to arrive early for the best lawn seating and may bring picnics, low beach chairs, and ground covers. Tall chairs, beach umbrellas, and pets are prohibited in Stern Grove during concerts. Patrons may be required to restrict the size of blankets or tarps due to space limitations. Unoccupied blankets are subject to removal. Designated benches are reserved for seniors over the age of 65 and disabled persons with one guest until 30 minutes prior to concert time. To ensure the safety and comfort of patrons at each performance, the concert meadow will be closed to further entry if capacity is reached. Patrons are not guaranteed seating in the meadow.

Stern Grove is accessible by MUNI bus and metro lines and concert-goers are encouraged to use public transportation. A free bike valet service is provided at Stern Grove. There is no parking provided at Stern Grove Festival and if patrons must drive, they are encouraged to use a new online rideshare service, PickUpPal. Visit for more details.

Free shuttle service within the Grove is provided to seniors and disabled patrons and a drop-off area is located at the entrance to the park at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. A limited number of handicapped parking spaces are available at the 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard entrance to the park, as well.

Households can enter to receive six picnic table seats at one concert per season. Entries will be chosen at random and notified the week before the concert by Stern Grove Festival. Entries will be accepted online at or by mail. To mail in an entry, provide the following REQUIRED information on a postcard: full name, dates of the concerts patrons would like to attend, complete mailing address and phone number. Households may submit one entry per concert or indicate multiple concert dates on one entry. Entries must be received by the Monday before the concert patrons want to attend. Entries should be mailed to: Stern Grove Festival Picnic Table Seating, 44 Page Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Picnics are welcome and food and drinks are available from the Grove Café. Festival merchandise and artist CDs are for sale at the Festival Shop.

Sigmund Stern Grove is a 33-acre recreation area with meadows, picnic facilities, hiking trails, and a lake. The audience is advised to come prepared for both sun and fog.

Visit the Stern Grove Festival website at or call (415) 252-6252.

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central


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