On June 18, 19, & 20, 2010 Mendocino county welcomes the 17th annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival produced by Epiphany Artists. Created as an annual summer solstice and world peace celebration, the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival takes place for the fifth consecutive year at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville. Its name originates from its original festival location in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
This year’s Sierra Nevada World Music Festival lineup features some of music’s greats in world, roots, vintage, dancehall, modern reggae and ska artists and sound system DJ’s. Bands are scheduled in tandem on the two stages, and conclude with a fire dance performance on what is known as the Valley stage, a site that is built from the ground up in the Grandstand area of the fairgrounds. The show’s varied offerings for children including music performers a parade, and opportunities for participation in free drum, dance, and yoga sessions throughout the weekend make it possible to for cultural exploration on many levels.
The Village stage and Kidz Zone host educational and multi-cultural entertainment. Sageman Drums workshops take place throughout the weekend and are open to all ages in the Drum Temple. There is a full program of activities designated for the younger generation with kid performers, Arts & Crafts projects and a daily Kids Parade that will be led by the wonderful Samba Stilt Circus, a troupe of stilt performers. Asheba returns to the Village stage Kidz Zone this year performing his unique blend of high energy reggae and calypso-tinged music for the younger generation with tones from his native Trinidad.
The festival hosts several non-profit organizations and a diverse of ethnic food vendors from Indian to Ethiopian as well as vegetarian and sustainable raw food vendors. Crafts in the international bazaar in the village area are curated to present a unique array of items from around the world and a zero waste initiative is vigorously pursued to manage the impact of the festival on the environment.
About the Artists:
Baaba Maal, the great Senegalese World music superstar will make a rare West Coast appearance on Sierra Nevada World Music Festival ’10 as the Friday night headliner. Baaba Maal has had a long and varied career and his latest recording is entitled Television. In December 2009, Baaba attended the Climate Change summit in Copenhagen as the climate change ambassador for the Africa Talks Climate initiative.
Don Carlos is a reggae artist whose uplifting reggae music and countenance have inspired crowds for over a quarter century. Don was born and raised in one of the most deprived regions of Western Kingston, Jamaica, in a district notoriously known as Waterhouse, launching his singing career back in 1973 as one of the original members of the roots vocal group Black Uhuru. Since that time, he has been in demand as a solo artist on stages around the world. Don’s latest release is entitled, Changes.
Barrington Levy is a driving force in reggae music and remains a perennial favorite and one of the most recognizable vocalists in reggae music history. His latest single, “Watch Dem” is a collaboration with rap legend Snoop Dogg and recent rap sensation Mims and it is a version of his song “Murderer” a classic tune with a strong warning against violence.
Alborosie, born Alberto D’Ascola is a reggae artist from Italy, who has resided in Kingston, Jamaica for the past decade. He moved to Jamaica to be close to reggae music’s roots and Rastafari culture. There, he started working as a sound engineer and producer and collaborating with legendary Specialist. Sierra Nevada marks his first summer reggae U.S. festival appearance. Alborosie is touring in celebration of his current release – Escape From Babylon to the Kingdom of Zion.
Presenting world music in its varied forms from bands that span the globe is a tradition the festival upholds each year, distinguishing it from any other outdoor festival in North America. As drummer and musical director of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s band, Africa 70 from 1968 to 1979, Tony Allen was one of the primary co-founders of the genre of Afrobeat music. Fela once stated that, “without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat.”
This year the festival is also pleased to present Fat Freddy’s Drop, a seven-piece band from New Zealand whose musical style has been characterized as any combination of dub, reggae, soul, jazz, rhythm and blues, and techno.
Also on the bill are Toubab Krewe, an American instrumental band which fuses the music of Mali with American musical styles (particularly those of the Southern United States). Their new album is entitled: Live at the Orange Peel. From Northern California come Sambadá who preserve the authentic flavor of Brazil’s samba tradition, mixing it with funk music, and from Senegal is Youssoupha Sidibe, a master kora player and mystic Sufi chanter.
And of Rubblebucket, someone once said that if “Brooklyn and New Orleans had a love child it would be conceived while listening to Rubblebucket.” With female lead vocals and hard hitting grooves, festival-goers will hear why this group received the 2009 Boston Music Award for Live Act of the Year.
Adding to the hybrid mix is Rey Fresco, a group from Ventura, California that performs an eclectic mix of rock, reggae, world, soul and Latin music and features a 36 string arpa jarocha Veracruz harp as one of their lead instruments.
Each year the vintage reggae portion of the Sierra Nevada lineup is like another chapter in a “reggae hall of fame” presentation. This year, Soul Syndicate reunites as a group who were one of the ’70’s most in demand touring and recording groups. The festival will feature original members renowned bassist George “Fully” Fullwood, Tony Chin, original “flyers” style rhythm guitarist and Santa Davis, one of the world’s most remarkable drummers.
Jamaica’s Max Romeo rose to fame with “Wet Dream”, a massive hit song that remained on the British top ten for nearly six months in the late sixties. He subsequently became one of the first Rastaman singers to record a series of deeply spiritual and socially conscious roots songs. His 1976 album “War Ina Babylon” has stood the test of time and remains as one of reggae’s seminal releases. Max will be making his first appearance in California in some twenty years at this year’s festival.
The Skatalites, one of Jamaica’s original ska bands, comes to Sierra Nevada World Music Festival with close to forty years of instrumental firepower. Ken Boothe, another classic vintage vocalist whose energy evokes the soul singers of the ’60’s returns to Boonville once again to this year.
Representing the deejay style is Big Youth whose MC-style chanting over classic rhythms set the stage for what is modern hip-hop.
Reggae’s reigning queen Marcia Griffiths was part of the I-Three’s, the harmony trio that supported Bob Marley. She has had an extensive career in her own right with the standard “Electric Boogie” as part of her repertoire as well as several other standard reggae chart-toppers. Hailing from Trinidad is Queen Omega the roots empress whose outstanding albums and riveting performances have made her one of reggae’s leading ladies of the 21st Century.
Johnny Clarke was the new life-blood of the Rockers reggae era, becoming one of Jamaica’s biggest artists, inspiring his contemporaries and promoting the message of Rasta both with cultural messages and lovers refrains. His music fortified what is possibly the most crucial era of reggae, bringing songs like “Move out of Babylon,” “Roots Natty Congo,” “Rock With Me Baby,” & “Get Up And Fight For Your Rights” to the massive.
As part of his group The Maytones, Vernon Maytone had his biggest hit with “Money Worries” that was featured on the film soundtrack: Rockers.
A consistent principle of Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is the emphasis on the promotion of positive messages. This year the festival presents Playing For Change who’ve engaged audiences on screen via a PBS special and in the live setting in promotion of their non-profit foundation’s release that features global matchings of street musicians and their mainstream counterparts. Playing For Change traveled around the world to places such as New Orleans, Barcelona, South Africa, India, Nepal, the Middle East and Ireland, and, using a mobile recording studio, had local musicians perform the same song, interpreted into their own style that and included contributions from artists such as Keb’ Mo’, Bono & Manu Chao.
Making their second appearance on the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival stage are Rootz Underground, Jamaica’s next generation of musicians whose star continues to rise and are on tour in celebration of their second studio album, Gravity. The group released a full length live recording as a free download that over 60,000 fans have received to date. The group employ a dynamic combination of a contemporary roots/rock sound, universal messages and energetic and compelling stage shows to go beyond a niche definition – reaching across reggae boundaries into pop music realms.
Also appearing are Ooklah the Moc from Hawaii, an American band with a huge following that play quality roots-reggae originals. And from Kansas City, comes Queen Makedah whose smoky vocals and roots stylings represent the healing properties of reggae music.
The culture of the soundsystem and the vibrant, prolific nature of Jamaica’s reggae industry and music movement are explored each year at the festival through a wide array of recordings. This year, when the sun goes down and the music on the two stages concludes, the fairgrounds’ exhibition hall will be filled with the sounds of two of the world’s greatest DJ sound systems including perennial Sierra Nevada World Music Festival selector, Rory Gilligan of Kingston’s Stone Love Movement and David Rodigan (SKY FM, BBC Radio) of the United Kingdom. Also mixing in the dancehall will be DJ Ras Kush representing the New York City soundsystem scene, and Comanche High Power.
The event takes place at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds, 14480 Highway 128, Boonville, California, 95415, just 35 minutes West of Ukiah. An advance 3 day music ticket is $145 and may be purchased Online, via Mail Order, and out numerous Independent Ticket Outlets throughout the West Coast. Single-Day Tickets are $55.00 for Friday or Sunday and $65.00 for Saturday. Camping is for 3 day music ticket holders only and is not included in the 3 day ticket price. Sierra Nevada World Music Festival offers Family Camp and Alter-abled camp areas located close to the venue gates.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.