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Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2012

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2012

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2012

By on - Photos by Lee Abel - 4 comments

A Breath of Fresh Air.

SNWMF 2012

This summer's Sierra Nevada World Music Festival was truly a blessing. Not only was the line-up epic, so was the weather. Thursday and even Friday saw very brief and light rainfall which threatened to dampen the mood. But as soon as the irie festival vibes started to emanate from the Mendocino County Fairground, the sun shone through. By Friday night it had rained over one and a half inches just miles away, but Jah steered the rainfall away and replaced it with heavenly sunshine.

Food vendors from all over the globe were in attendance, enticing the eyes and nose of all those walking the path from the Valley Stage to the Village Stage. Vegan New York pizza, raw food, afro-Ghanaian cuisine, Jamaican Jerk, you name it and it was there, tantalizing taste buds with hearty soups and ginger-fried plantains.

An opening prayer performed by Clayton Duncan and Pomo tribal members was dedicated to the four directions, to the ancestors of the land on which the festival was taking place, and to Wa Hud Ka (Our Father). Chanting, dancers, and an offering blanket created a genuinely grounding experience. Possibly the best way to start a weekend of conscious vibes, I believe it was a factor in the improving weather.

Friday the Valley Stage was witness to the powerful and melodic contributions of Polynesian artists on the reggae scene. Hot Rain, hailing from Hawai'i opened up the weekend's music. With soulful vocals, groovin riddims, and a very high level of musicianship, they set the vibes perfectly for the weekend. They continued to back both Fiji and J Boog. Fiji's vocal range and song selection was dynamic and on point. The crowd loved the smooth jams of J Boog, a samoan who grew up in Compton, California.

Prince Alla at SNWMF 2012Jamaica was also present keeping the roots vibes with Prince Alla and Earl Zero, Perfect, Lutan Fyah, and Third World performing. It was the first journey to the United States for roots reggae legend Prince Alla, who performed on both the Village Stage on Friday and the Valley Stage on Saturday. He was so ecstatic that after his performance on the more intimate Village Stage he jumped off stage and hugged the entire front row of audience. His love was infectious. When announcing the imminent energetic performance of Lutan on the Village stage, MC Junior Francis warned “If you see literal flames on the stage, do not call the fire department!” Third World closed the night on the Valley stage, with a solid performance and classic hits. In the press tent they acknowledged that California was actually where they launched their United States career, specifically in Berkeley.

The Dancehall was DJ'ed Friday night by David Rodigan, a UK DJ whose set was a history lesson from the Ska and Rocksteady days up to the Dancehall fresh off the wax. On Saturday night Comanche High Power opened the Dancehall up for Stone Love who was expertly blending tune to tune, mesmerizing all who attended until almost 3 in the morning.

Saturday morning saw Indubious and Zion Train with Rocker-T on the Village stage. Both gave very energetic and inspiring performances, a treat to those who managed to get to the stage early enough. One of the hardest working bands in music, iKronic, who backed Prince Alla, Sister Nancy, Romain Virgo, Perfect, Lutan Fyah, Cherine Anderson, and Luciano even had their own set opening up Saturday's music on the Valley Stage. Sister Nancy held down the mic with a performance still ensuring “a lot of MC's won't get no supper tonight”. Romain Virgo who is only 22 and hails from Jamaica, was one of the youngest and freshest faces on the scene. He was both humble and bright, and in his interview made clear that he feels a responsibility in keeping the torch of reggae burning hotta fyah.

Johnny Osbourne was a force to be reckoned with delivering songs like “Ice Cream Love”, one of the all-time reggae classics. Israel Vibration graced the stage after with a thoroughly positive performance. In one of his first US performances in years, dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson gave a highly political performance backed by the funky and well arranged Dennis Bovell Dub Band. He even announced an anti-fascist portion which he wrote in the 70's which was eerily appropriate in the modern context. Jimmy Cliff ended Saturday night with one of his most exuberant performances in decades. In fact many wondered how anyone could follow such an uplifting act from Reggae's first superstar.

SNWMF 2012

Friday and Saturday nights also saw the enticing exhibition of Primordial Spin and Liquid Fire Mantra spinning fire to live hand drums in front of the Valley Stage after the last acts.

Another beautiful day of sunshine and music followed on Sunday. After a morning Yoga session by the Village Stage, Jah Sun and Lion Camp performed a showcase set with a few songs from each artist. Later on the Village Stage Chico Trujillo from Chile set an infectious cumbia groove loose that got the whole crowd dancing. On the Valley Stage two New Zealand bands, House of Shem and Katchafire shared their island's brand of powerful and unique reggae. The Twinkle Brothers, emanated one of the most positive messages and vibrations with songs like “Faith Can Move Mountains”. Cherine Anderson backed by iKronic packed in some hard hitting jams showcasing both her singing and toasting skills. In a heartwarming moment Cherine brought and sang to a couple who was celebrating 40 years together. They were both in tears from the happiness.

Asheba who was born in Trinidad but now resides in the Bay Area was at the Village stage Sunday afternoon teaching and entertaining the youth with his caribbean influenced storytelling and music.

Just as there was an opening prayer, Luciano “the Messenjah” closed the festival Sunday evening with a deeply spiritual performance. Beaming with smiles and charisma his wisdom shone through in the press tent after his performance. When questioned about the different religions of the world he said there is only one god, but he has many names. “It's all about ego that separates... Jah is unto Allah as Allah is unto Jah.” Cherine Anderson, who was also present at the interview expressed her gratitude for all the support she has received, saying “We do what we love because we get the love back from you people.” Luciano echoed the sentiment, “It's a privilege and blessing to be onstage singing for thousands of people.” Truly, the festival weekend was a blessing for all who were able to imbibe the positive and healing vibrations.


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Read comments (4)

Posted by Carson on 07.11.2012
This article is informative and well-written and the pictures are great!

Posted by jbwelda on 07.11.2012
So Third World started their US career at the shattuck down low?

And what year would that be?

Ha ha ha ha

Third World was here long before there was a shattuck down low. maybe your writers could do some fact checking?

Posted by jb welda on 07.11.2012
It has been pointed out to me that in fact that place, the down low, may well have been in operation way back then, the 70s, as the passand lounge. its just much more likely they (third world) would have performed at the greek theatre (on a reggae fest day) or at the keystone or the bsquare or somewhere there were reggae shows being put on in the end of the seventies until the 90s. so i must concede i am not 100% positive that the article is incorrect, i just find it very hard to believe as a long time bay area resident.

And from what i hear one of them said that in the press tent in their late night interview session, which i hear was something in itself.

Regardless of that, this outfit came well into my second tier of artists i wanted to see this year and their candy covered sound didnt do much for me. unlike jimmy cliff the next night who i didnt expect much from but who was astoundingly good and accompanied by an ace outfit.

Posted by Ari Sandoval on 07.13.2012
Hi JB Welda, thanks for that info. Third World said Shattuck in the interview and I accidentally added the Down Low when I was writing the article. Whatever the exact location, I think we can all appreciate that the Bay Area was integral to the launching of Third World's U.S. career!

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