This June, summer solstice weekend, June 20, 21, & 22, 2008 marks the 15th Anniversary of the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival (SNWMF), an annual world peace and summer solstice celebration. The event takes place at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds, located 30 minutes west of Ukiah in Boonville, California. The organizer, Epiphany Artists has announced the preliminary lineup of artists with many to be added over the coming weeks. Some of the world’s greatest world, conscious roots, vintage, dancehall, modern reggae, ska artists and sound system DJ’s have made their appearances on the Sierra Nevada stages over the years, many of whom make their West Coast festival debut at this hallmark event.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Buju Banton will make a rare West Coast appearance on SNWMF ’08 as one of reggae’s most dynamic performers and top-selling recording artists. Michael Franti & Spearhead bring the Bay Area roots to Sierra Nevada with their unique mix of socially-relevant root rock, hip-hop and reggae. Since their formation in Kingston’s Trenchtown area in 1969, The Mighty Diamonds have represented the pinnacle of Jamaica’s socially-conscious harmony groups. And the Waterhouse area of Kingston is represented by another chart-topping vocal group: The Wailing Souls. These are groups that have made appearances on the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival stages throughout the years and return this year in celebration of the Festival tradition of representing the broad spectrum of reggae talent.
Reggae music from the Virgin Islands has become a feature of the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival lineup. Returning this year is the prolific Midnite from St. Croix, who have made numerous appearances at the festival and have become a highly-sought after group on stages worldwide with their mix of deep roots and relevant Rasta chants. Presenting reggae and world music in their varied forms is a tradition the festival upholds each year. This year SNWMF welcomes Maldita Vecindad from Mexico, a band whose blend of ska and Mexican folk sounds have earned them household name status in the "rock en-espanol" genre.
Sister Carol has a multi-faceted career as a recording and touring artist in the cultural reggae dance hall genre and as an actress, she tours regularly with the Yellow Wall Dub Squad. Also performing with the Bay Area-based Yellow Wall is conscious reggae artist Yami Bolo whose distinctive vocals carry the message of freedom for the world’s less fortunate.
Each year the vintage reggae portion of the Sierra Nevada schedule reads like a who’s who of performers and this year is no exception. Considered one of Jamaica’s first rap stars, U-Roy helped start a style known as “toasting” or rapping over the rhythm versions of popular songs remixed by dub pioneer King Tubby which carried to New York and formed the genesis of modern hip-hop.
Returning to the 2008 festival is Cornel Campbell whose sweet falsetto ruled the charts beginning in the 1960’s with Studio One and Duke Reid labels. Sunday afternoon features the "Return of the Legends" segment featuring Roy Shirley (responsible for the first Rocksteady-era song "Hold Them") soul man Pat Kelly and Stranger Cole (whose hit song "Bangarang" is emblematic of the urge for peace Jamaican society) all backed by the Los Angeles-based band, The Expanders.
Tosh Meets Marley is a an all-star grouping of musicians and singers some of whom originally recorded and toured with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. They include George "Fully" Fullwood an original bassist with Peter Tosh, Junior Marvin, lead guitarist with Bob Marley & the Wailers, Tony Chin, original "flyers" style rhythm guitarist who has played on several hit songs including those by Johnny Clarke and Dennis Brown. The group performs originals from these two legendary artists on stages worldwide.
A consistent principle of Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is the emphasis on the promotion of positive messages. Since his debut in 1988, Jamaica’s Prezident Brown has remained one of the most interesting cultural performers because of this emphasis found in his inspiring baritone-chanted lyrics.
Making his second appearance at SNWMF is Markus James whose group blends Blues with West African-stringed music in a collaboration with musicians from West Africa to explore the ancient roots of Blues music.
Each year some of the freshest and most versatile groups in the industry are welcomed from these two genres, gaining exposure to fans throughout the West Coast. This year these groups include: Rootz Underground who hail from Jamaica and employ the 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. And Extra Golden, who blend traditional Kenyan Benga music with rock and assorted African guitar stylings as an international collaboration between Benga artists Opiyo Bilongo and Onyango Wuod Omari, and Ian Eagleson and Alex Minoff of the Washington D.C. based rock band Golden. Rounding out this grouping of new talent are Taj Weekes & Adowa from St. Lucia whose vivid stories in song are presented with stirring vocals that sing assuredly for the voiceless and the oppressed.
From Argentina is Alika who makes her second SNWMF appearance mingling hip-hop and reggae chants delivered in Spanish that address issues of justice and Rastafarian ideals. Alika will be backed by the Los Angeles-based Quinto Sol who will also perform a set of their own brand of potent reggae which has garnered the group a large West Coast following. Quinto Sol weaves Latin sounds of cumbia, rumba and son with messages of urban reality and the struggles of indigenous communities world wide.
The culture of the sound system and the vibrant, prolific nature of Jamaica’s reggae industry and music movement are explored each year at SNWMF by the wide array of performers from the genre. 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 SNWMF selector, Rory Gilligan of Kingston’s Stone Love Movement and David Rodigan (SKY FM, BBC Radio) of the United Kingdom.
The dance hall hosts artists who perform encore performances over their song’s original (or sometimes alternate) rhythm tracks known as the "version" and this year with so many artists on the lineup that perform in this tradition, fans can expect very active nights in the dance hall on Friday and Saturday with the addition of these encore performances with the selectors.
The 15th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is honored to host special guests Clayton Duncan of the Pomo Native American Nation and Namkha Rinpoche a Tibetan Buddhist rinpoche (precious teacher). Mr. Duncan will deliver a prayer and a traditional song and promote the Lucy Moore Foundation, an organization founded in honor of his great-grandmother who survived an 1850 massacre in Lake County and whose message of the power forgiveness is a feature of the organization’s efforts to recover sacred ancestral burial lands. And Namkha Rinpoche, a great spiritual master of Tantric Buddhism, will present prayers and blessings for world peace and harmony throughout the weekend as well as at the closing ceremonies. The Rinpoche is committed to the promotion of human values such as compassion, forgiveness and tolerance and in so doing the promotion of religious harmony. His work with His Holiness the Dalai Lama leads him to spread the word of Tibetans in their struggle for justice.
There are approximately thirty acts to be presented in total with more acts to be added in the coming weeks. Sound samples, artist bios, and other information can be found at www.snwmf.com and myspace.com/snwmf.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL:
The Festival supports artists in whatever form, and freedom of expression as a way toward world peace and the promotion of a sense of community. Reggae, World, and conscious music with a rhythmic essence that promotes movement have provided the foundation to present some of the premier recording artists and touring acts in music today. The event unfolds over three days on two stages and in the dance hall.
The Valley Stage on the fairgrounds is encircled at its perimeter by an array of arts and craft vendors and a covered a bandstand area. The Village Stage, a pine covered area provides another dimension of sight and sound, hosts children’s programming throughout the weekend.
The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival has been called "life changing" for many of its regular attendees the majority of which come as campers, committing to a three-day bonanza for the senses that begins with yoga and a Pomo Native American Indian blessing and concludes with fire dancing and an authentic Jamaican-style reggae dancehall session.
Part of a larger community of reggae and world music enthusiasts, the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival hosts an active message board on the www.snwmf.com website. It acts as a lively forum that provides news not only about the annual event, but acts as a resource for all manner of music and event information.
Organizers Gretchen Frantz and Warren Smith mobilize hundreds of volunteers to make this event happen annually. The duo’s tireless commitment to the festival dovetails with their commitment to issues related to social justice, world peace and the environment. The event was created as a summer solstice and world peace celebration, and each year it hosts over two dozen non-profit organizations.
Over the years, the festival location may have moved (from its origins in the Sierra Nevada mountain region) but the essence of the event has remained compelling for thousands of festival goers. The 15th annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival takes place for the third year at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds which has proved to be a great match for the festival-goers and the organizers.
KIDS and "NOT JUST FOR KIDS" ACTIVITIES:
The Village stage and Kidz Zone host Children’s educational and multi-cultural entertainment and this year Putumayo recording artist Asheba returns to Sierra Nevada with his unique brand of reggae and world-influenced children’s music. Also performing material suited for the younger generation is Lisa Monet whose Spanish and English bi-lingual songs blend sign language, movement and audience participation.
Holistic Hooping provides a play environment for all to learn the art of skill toy spinning. Holistic Hooping will host ongoing playtime instruction and will perform 5 distinct shows throughout the weekend, including midnight Fire Dancing at the Valley Stage on Friday and Saturday nights. Their 17 foot high rainbow chakra hoop sculpture is part of an exciting interactive experience. Bounces, Jumps & More will provide bounce houses open throughout the weekend.
Sageman Drums workshops will take place throughout the weekend and are open to all ages. Africa Al Story Telling features Africa Al who graces the Kidz Zone with his imagination and stories from around the world.
The Big Tadoo presents puppetry and an ecological midway of carnival games with an environmental focus. Mystic Toyz brings the fun with spin toys of all types to share with all ages. Arts & Crafts projects are featured throughout the weekend as well as a daily Kids Parade.
Early morning in the SNWMF community reaches out to stretch the night’s dancing muscles out with yoga and movement in the pine-shaded Village area. The festival hosts dozens of non-profit organizations in the Village and a diverse array of ethnic food vendors from Indian to Ethiopian as well as vegetarian and sustainable raw food vendors. The art and crafts, clothing and jewelery, incense and essences sold in the village area provide something for everyone.
The event takes place at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds, 14480 Highway 128, Boonville, California, 95415, just 35 minutes West of Ukiah. Three day tickets are available now for $135 through mail order at: http://www.snwmf.com/tickets.html and at independent ticket outlets. Camping passes are available by mail order and at select ticket outlets for $50, with one ticket per vehicle. Single day tickets will be made available in the weeks closer to the event. (Note: a small service charge may be applied at the ticket outlets.)
Gates open 5pm 6/20 music from 6pm to 2:30am
Gates open 10am 6/21 music from 11am-2:30am
Gates open 10 am 6/22 music from 11am-10pm
The following is the lineup as of April 23, 2008. The schedule by day to be announced in the coming weeks.
Michael Franti & Spearhead
The English Beat
The Mighty Diamonds
The Wailing Souls
Tosh Meets Marley
Taj Weekes & Adowa
Namkha Rinpoche of Tibet
Clayton Duncan of the Pomo Native American Nation