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Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2012 - Chapter 2

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2012 - Chapter 2

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2012 - Chapter 2

By on - Photos by Sista Irie - Comment

A festival overflowing with love vibes, embraced in diversity, and organized with thoughtful detail.

“Can’t take the slackness they bring to the business, their madness and badness is all they have to give. What about the roots? Don’t they love them no more? Don’t they have respect for those who paved the way before? Bring back the roots and culture to the dancehall.”
-- Luciano - Rub A Dub Market

Prince Alla

For the past twenty years, reggae music has struggled to self-identify as a cultural phenomenon comprised of lyrical consciousness. To many, reggae is ingrained as a methodology reaching beyond entertainment and serves people through an outspoken movement of truth and rights. Some advocates say reggae music should not be restricted to positive societal guidance, that music serves many purposes including down home party entertainment. No matter where you stand on the primary role of reggae music, the Sierra Nevada Music Festival mirrors a formula of excellence providing musical balance between entertainment and lyrical guidance.

The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival consistently embraces an astounding variety of musical talent. This year exceeded all expectations, blending a supreme mix of  legendary foundation singers and players, roots of dub poetry, consciously motivated dancehall artists, reggae sounds from New Zealand and Polynesia, as well as provocative, infectious bands expertly blending traditional and modern musical roots of global diversity ranging from Latino hip hop reggae to African jazz. AND NOT to be underestimated, impeccable sound systems, such as Stone Love and UK selector, David Rodigan, graciously served late night dancehall appetites starting shortly after the final notes faded from the the beautifully illuminated Valley stage.

Splendid Roots

This year’s foundation singers and players included the legendary Jimmy Cliff, Third WorldIsrael Vibration, The Twinkle Brothers, Della Grant, Luciano, Earl Zero, Prince Alla, Johnny Osbourne, Romain Virgo, and Sister Nancy.

Romain VirgoUK artist, Prince Alla ignited a large contingency of glowing fans with two performances at the Village and Valley stages. Prince Alla’s presence was extra special as this was his first US appearance. The ambitiously receptive audience gravitated to both stages to assure the experience of Prince Alla’s smooth legendary delivery while reminiscing in the dapper dress of early rock steady singers. Romain Virgo sporting a new growth of short dreads gave an emotionally packed set demonstrating his transition from young emerging singer to mature experienced performer. Luciano closed out the Sunday night performance embraced by a massive crowd cheering the return of the Messenjah. There was no doubt, the magic returned as Luciano proved his potency as a crucial reggae messenger stating that some performers are abusers of the music.

“Right now, me see some artists coming up and trying to destroy the music, and I feel very hurt because they are not making music. They are making what? BUSIC! They are making Busic because they are abusing the minds of the people while abusing our heritage. They are not amusing man nor God. They They are only  making Busic.” Luciano from the stage SNWMF

Israel Vibration delivered a deeply spiritual Rastafari revival focusing on a selection of songs from their newest release Reggae Knights including “My Master’s Will” and “Dig Up the Ground.”  The Twinkle Brothers clearly delighted the hearts of Rastafari roots lovers with a historic overview of many of their most powerful songs, including “Jahovia” and “Since I Threw the Comb Away.” In perfect synchronicity, Norman and Ralston Grant were preceded onstage by the elegant and humble, Della Grant, whose female strength is sharply accentuated and embellished by her Rastafari calling.   

Cool and Deadly

Roots and Dancehall blended in perfect harmony throughout the amazingly vital and energetic performances by Perfect, Lutan Fyah, and Cherine Anderson. Cherine blazed through a sizzling set wearing skin tight sexy red leggings, black glittery boots, and a pearl white suit jacket poignantly accented by a flowing sea of orange red curls framing her exquisitely beautiful and glowing skin. Cherine fueled her sexy fire by performing lover’s style reggae with cool roots singer Peter Gayle. Another special moment included Cherine’s guest of the night which included an erotic rub a dub grinding. In tribute to everlasting love, Cherine brought forth from the crowd, a couple married forty years. The man and wife were visibly emotional as Cherine paid tribute to the couple’s loving accomplishment.         

Where in the World

This first US appearance of UK based Linton Kwesi Johnson, backed by the Dennis Bovell Dub Band, caused a major buzz across the festival grounds. Flocked by dub poetry enthusiasts, Linton took the stage with concerted purpose. I can testify a few minutes with LKJ instantly reflects his serious intellectual nature and commitment to grave societal commentary. In an interview with the Guardian, Linton Kwesi Johnson speaks of his early works stating "Writing was a political act and poetry was a cultural weapon.” Linton educated and entertained the audience in a breathtaking performance while his trademark straight as an arrow physique and legendary felt hat was framed by dark purple and luminous green stage lighting.

J Boog, an extremely talented upcoming reggae singer whose roots are Samoan, along with Hawaiian based friend and mentor, Fiji, showed a completely amazed audience that Polynesian reggae is credible and on the rise. J Boog’s lover’s rock style and Fiji’s extreme vocal range backed by House of Shem from New Zealand added a rich gumbo of global sounds expertly mixed with Jamaican reggae and American hip hop. House of Shem was one of my major musical discoveries from this festival. They are to be taken very seriously as a talented and well accomplished reggae band.

Players of Instruments

Flabba HoltSNWMF commits to a host of bands assuring that the true Jamaican sound is notably represented in purity and credibility. In addition to amazing bands such as Third World, Roots Radics, Dennis Bovell and Dub Nation, other notables included the knock out fabulous sounds of Ikronik, mostly known in earlier years as Gumption Band. Ikronik backed many of the weekend singers as well as establishing themselves in a solo set on the Village stage. Junior Jazz and Kavajah, are just two examples of Ikronik players whose musical expertise and stage presence became as recognizable as the featured singers. I look forward to seeing and hear more of Ikronik as time goes forward. Their contribution to reggae music will remain massive as they continue to establish themselves as an iconic Ikronic.

There were many performances I did not see or hear due to an injured foot. Most of the acts I regrettably missed were on the Village stage. I apologize to these fantastic artists for not being able to run quickly between stages. I can truthfully say that I heard very positive comments about all the weekend performers which includes Afrolicious, Hot Rain, Afromassive, Zion Train and Rocker T, Indubious, Locura, Locos Por Juana, Iration, Katchafire (who I saw at SXSW in Austin, Texas), Chico Trujillo and Jah Sun and Lion Camp. Your presence truly made SNWMF a World Music Festival and your contribution to the musical arts and spiritual upliftment makes us all blessed.

Warren and Gretchen Smith have created a reggae community expertly skilled at delivering a festival overflowing with love vibes, embraced in diversity, and organized with thoughtful detail. Give thanks to the entire SNWMF crew, including volunteers who perform their tasks willingly and with good spirit. Each year the festival grows in soulful inspiration and touches the lives of the reggae masses in a way that only those who have attended can fully overstand. 

My final livication goes to all the reggae photographers who have become my family and whose "works of art are rich in heart." I love each and every one of you and honored to be a part of the historical documentation of reggae music. One love, one heart- let us live to serve and continue down the road to teach the youth to live up- consciously!


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