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8th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

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Photography and Story by Diane Adam ã 2001

Fans join Maxi Priest on stage at the 8th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

 

The sweet sound of Classic Reggae and World Music once again lifted the spirits at the 8th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival held June 22-24, 2001. Organized and produced by husband and wife team, Warren & Gretchen Smith of San Rafael-based Epiphany Artists, this yearís show moved to its brand new venue located in the blazing and dusty hills of Calaveras Countyís historic gold country in Frogtown (Angeles Camp), California.

Festivities took place on two stages and a Dancehall hot spot (featuring Mr. Vegas) starting on Friday, June 22, with headline performances by the eccentric madman of sound Lee "Scratch" Perry, Reggae Cowboy, Eek-A-Mouse and New Yorkís Rocker T. Returning sound engineer Mad Professor (Neil Fraser) kept the sounds fresh once more at this yearís festival.

The Valley Stage pulsed on Saturday, June 23rd with an eclectic offering highlighted by brilliant performances by Jamaican legends The Pioneers, Linval Thompson, Abyssinians, Don Carlos, Gregory Isaacs, Sister Carol and Israel Vibration with the Roots Radics Band. Closing the Saturday, June 23 show was Buju Banton. Keeping the Village Stage jumping was The Revelations, Ricardo Lemvo, Bayanga, Vivendo de Pao, Alma Melodioso, Ricardo Lemvo, Makina Loca, Bayanga, Vivendo De Pao, Alma Melodioso, Twilight Circus Dub, Brazil Beat Sound System and the dance troupe Group Petit la Croix.

Sunday, June 24th brought the talents of Maxi Priest, Ozomatli, Olodum, Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited, Bushman, Excentric Sound System, The Ethiopians, Junior Murvin, Bernard Collins (original member of the Abyssinians), Carlton and The Shoes, Tchiya Amet, Dub Mission and Ancient Future.

 

Fans gather around the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival's Valley Stage

 

Highlights from the 8th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

On Saturday, June 23rd, from the roots of Reggae came a rare performance by Linval Thompson who mashed it up in a "King Tubby" style with the song, "Baby Mother."

Don Carlos Linval Thompson Sister Carol Skelly of Israel Vibration Buju Banton

Don Carlos (ex-Black Uhuru lead singer) glided on stage with a parcel of hits including "On The Front Line", Younger Girl In Love With A Knotty Dread" (which set off an audience sing along) and the song "Holiday" from his latest CD release, Seven Days a Week on RAS Records. A round of applause and cheers coaxed Don Carlos back on stage to sing the song "Living In The City" and "Passing Glance."

 

Abyssinians

 

Always giving us a spiritually moving performance was the Abyssinians with Carlton Manning, Donald Manning and David Morrison who opened their set giving reverence to The Most High Jah! Rastafari - with the songs "Good Lord" (sent me from Zion), "Send Us Home To Zion", "Let Him Be Praised", "Abendigo" and the beautiful equal rights and justice hymn, "Declaration of Rights."

 

Gregory Isaacs Leonard "Sparrow" Dillon Nana Dadzie of Ex-Centric Sound System Olodum

The consummate "Cool Ruler" Gregory Isaacs enjoyed welcoming cheers from his fans as he crooned out his well-seasoned hits, "Leaving Out Of Babylon" "Thank You" (skankiní on the "I Want A Love I Can Feel" rhythm), "Night Nurse" and "Rumors" (laced to Bob Marleyís "Kinky Reggae" rhythm). Later during his show, Isaacs proudly invited his son Kevin Isaacs on stage to join him in song.

Still "The Voice of Jamaica" Buju Banton demonstrated his extraordinary talents when he performed with ease though he lacked backup vocalists (due to issues out of his control). Seemingly tireless, Buju Banton shocked out on the songs, "Want to Be Loved", "Champion" and "Not An Easy Road" all from his mega-hit CD, Til Shiloh (1995). He also amazed the crowd with the songs "Love Sponge", his dancehall favorite, "Pull It Up" and ohhh whata "Mighty Dread" from his latest CD release, Unchained Spirit on Anti Records. Banton smoothly closed the Saturday show with his consciously smooth performance of the Bob Marley song "Rastaman Vibration."

Performing on The Valley Stage on Sunday, June 24, was the multi-cultural Israeli/Ghanaian group Ex-Centric Sound System who gave the audience a new twist on world music with their unique blend of African Dub laced to a riveting Hip Hop beat. Enhancing the blueprint of ancient African sounds was an electrifying performance by Nana Dadzie (son of a Fanti Tribe Chief from Ghana) on flute/kalimba/traditional drums/vocals. Also performing was Adevo Favor (Accra, Ghana) on Kpanlogo drum/vocals, founder of Ex-Centric Sound System Yossi Fine (France) on bass and Michael Avgil (Morocco/Israeli) on drums. To experience more of Ex-Centric Sound System look for their latest CD, "Electric Voodooland" on Loud Record. Donít miss Ex-Centric Sound System performance on August 4th at the 2001 Reggae On The River.

 

Junior Murvin David Morrison Carlton Manning Mad Professor

Other notable performances came from Olodum (from the word "Olodumare" a Yoruba name for God) a Brazilian brew of Reggae and Samba-laced rhythms and highflying acrobatic drumming that provided a real Carnival atmosphere. Olodum has gained international recognition for its extraordinary street performances that unites over 300 drummers every year to perform at Brazilís world famous Carnival. The group has also gained recognition for recording with Paul Simon on his album, "Rhythm of the Saints". Also giving fine performances on the Valley Stage was Ozomatli (the Aztec god of dance) and sister Tchiya Amet, who is also scheduled to perform on August 3rd at 2001 Reggae On The River.

 

Ozomatli

 

Some extraordinary Classic Reggae took place on the smaller Village Stage on Sunday, June 24th. Most notably was a rare performance by The Ethiopiansí founding member, Leonard "Sparrow" Dillon. Dillon opened his show giving thanks, "In the Name of the omnipotent One, Alpha and Omega, Father and Mother of Creation, Beginning without end Jah! Rastafari. Ever living, ever faithful, always sure." Journeying back in time the audience was sweetly caressed by Dillonís tender gospel-based songs including "What A Fire", "You A Pirate", "In De Mi Deh" and "Ethiopia Land". This was Dillonís first appearance in California and if weíre blessed it wonít be the last because music like this will always call out to the people. The Ethiopians originally formed in 1966 in Kingston Jamaica as a trio that included Stephen Taylor (passed on in 1975) and Aston Morris (many of you remember the "Ethiopian National Anthem" that was recorded with Ninety The Observer and which Dillon adamantly states he never received one dime in royalties). If you need another sweet Reggae treatment, get the Ethiopiansí latest CD release, Tougher Than Stone on the Roots and Culture label (1999).

The ultimate loverís rock came from Abyssinian lead man, Carlton Manning performing as Carlton and The Shoes with the song "Life Would Be A Dream". Manning reminded the crowd that "This is music for lovers" and hitting those "high love notes" appeared effortless for Manning as he crooned out many of his old time favorites, including the beautiful Studio One hit, "This Feeling".

Delivering a fine solo performance on the Village Stage was Bernard Collins (original member of the Abyssinians who still performs in Jamaica under the Abyssinian name). Performing for the first time in the United States was Junior Murvin who rocked the crowd with his soulful R&B song "Police and Thieves".

 

Bushman

Selassie I solider, Bushman dispensed some strong spiritual medicine to a highly appreciative audience when he performed his songs "Give Some More To The Poor" and the title track from his latest CD release, "Higher Ground". Bushman gave a touching tribute to his inspiration Dennis Emanuel Brown, singing "Joy". He also covered the Bob Marley song, "Hypocrites" which smoothly transitioned into his song, "Fire Pon A Weak Heart". Bushman continued to deliver when he performed the song, "Truly Great" which he humbly acknowledged was produced by Morgan Heritage. Also performing on the Village Stage Saturday was Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited, Amet, Ancient Future and Dub Mission.

 

Maxi Priest bring a dazzling close to the 8th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

 

Bringing a dazzling close to the 8th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festivalís Valley Stage on Sunday, June 24th was a crowd-pleasing performance by international Reggae star, Maxi Priest. Maxi harvested a truckload of applause when he opened his show with the song "Do You Want To Dance." He serenaded fans with many of his well-know favorites including, "Just A Little Bit Longer", "Wild World", "Close To You" and from his 1996 Virgin Records release, he performed the title track Man With The Fun and "That Girl". Joining Maxi Priest on stage was Dancehall DJ Red Fox who truly knew how to "wind de girls up proper" with his Shaggy-like vocals and suggestive dance moves. A real entertainer, Maxi Priest showed his appreciation to his fans by inviting the ladies on stage to take part in some pure dancehall fever bringing a dramatic close to the 8th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival.

I would like to "give special thanks" to the many musicians, vocalists and performers that I have not mentioned by name. The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is a tremendously large event and though I wish I could mention every one of you that sang, played an instrument or performed, it is inevitable that many names are not mentioned. I want to say that without the invaluable talent the "singers and players of instruments" make in holding the rhythm tight for each artist, "things would not be right!" O.K! You know who you are! So to you I say, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all that you do for Reggae music! Thanks also goes out to the many volunteers, vendors and fans who continue to make the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival one of the best festival in the world! I would also like to give thanks to the townspeople of Angels Camp and Frogtown for their kind hospitality in welcoming and making comfortable the Reggae and World Music visitors to their town.

 

More Highlights in Pictures from the 8th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

(from Left to Right) Rasta Reunion with good friends Leonard "Sparrow" Dillon of the Ethiopians and MC Rock Allen Bailey

 

Master of Ceremonies

Earl Chin Tony Moses

 

 

 

(from Left to Right) San Francisco Bay Area Musicians Fazel Pendergast, Wadi Gad and Amlak Tafari backing up the great Don Carlos

 

 

Fans enjoy the music at 8th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

See you next year at the 9th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. For more information contact: http://www.snwmf.com

Article and Photography by Diane Adam ã 2001. All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy, televise, digitally scan or otherwise publish this work or any part thereof is strictly prohibited without prior permission obtained from Diane Adam or Adam Photography of Berkeley, California. For more information email: rastacome@hotmail.com

Hail to the King, Haile Selassie I, His Imperial Majesty


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