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Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2011 - Part 1

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2011 - Part 1

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2011 - Part 1

By on - Photos by Sista Irie - 1 comment

Country Roads, Sierra Nevada Music Festival 2011

“Take me high above the mountains, let me fly on the wings of love” - Duane Stephenson, Misty Morning

The mystical hills of Anderson Valley are best known for vinyards, sheep ranches and apple orchards- with one exception. Every June, Anderson Valley becomes the home of the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, a professionally crafted, family oriented weekend, culturally rich in music, diversity and goodwill. The tight winding drive from Ukiah to Boonville is rich in color, a wild frontier of golden grass, coney dark pines tinged with an occasional splash of crimson blooms. Nature’s glorious display of red, gold and green elegance is an appropriate harbinger to a spiritually charged musical revival infused with abounding fellowship of friends, family and Rasta-Fari.

“Our singing and dancing is always for prayer, a blessing and never for war” - Clayton Duncan, Pomo Tribal Elder

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2001

In honor of the summer solstice, in tribute to the Pomo Native Americans and in the spirit of unity and world peace, three days of world class performers are perfectly choreographed across two stages from 11 a.m. until the wee hours of the next morning. There is no rest for the weary. As soon as the stage shows end, an early morning dancehall begins on both Friday and Saturday nights starring international sound system dj’s such as Stone Love with Jah9 and Jah Love Music with Brigadier Jerry. The dancehall is quick to jam up and boogie down for several more hours into the morning mist.

This year’s legendary line-up offered a wide range of classical roots artists including a rare performance by Pablo Moses, Studio One artists The Cables, ska and mento veterans, The Jolly Boys and the beloved Horace Andy. As an additional compliment for highly inspired roots devotees, old time rock steady dj’s Winston Reedy, Dennis Alcapone and Brigadier Jerry further captivated the massive crowd who began skanking and singing out to favorite reggae hymns. SNWMF fans have come to savor these special moments, to witness the deeply treasured old time vintage performers, especially with many legends passing over the past few years.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2001

Saturday night, headliners Steel Pulse and Toots and the Maytals rocked a full house revealing a catalogue of historical hits, couched as a sentimental journey of hard driving riddims. Leba Hibbert, Toots' daughter opened his set, while Junior Toots joined later for a special father son combination. On the Village stage, the elegant Thomas Mapfumo, known as the “Lion of Zimbabwe,” poetically delivered caustic social commentaries in Chimurenga style, to a spellbound crowd. Like many other outspoken singers whose messages promote social activism, Thomas Mapfumo was banned by his own government due to his outspoken stand on revolutionary struggles. Vusi Mahlasela, hailing from the Mamelodi Township of South Africa, acoustically sang of painful change and political manifestations resulting from a sick and perverted apartheid regime. His soulful set clearly defined why he is considered “The Voice” within a country whose social change came with violence, destruction and racial turmoil. Taj Weekes and Adowa left a mark deep in the hearts and minds by sharing his potent messages through moving ballads inspired by environmental disasters, human apathy, ravages of war and child abuse. Spiritual griots, Vaughn and Ron Benjamin, known collectively as Midnite teach to royal anciency of African knowledge and discipline. Although these lyrically potent artists engage in skillful poetic messages, enhancing sensitivities around the failings of humankind, they also present the opportunity of hope and empowerment for a better world.

Artistic professionalism and conscious messaging were crucial as modern day favorites took to the big stage. Duane Stephenson, promoting his latest release 'Black Gold', delivered a smooth and inspiring set, highlighting his soulful voice and deep lyrical introspection. Duane’s delivery proves his reputation as a profoundly insightful and talented songwriter. Romain Virgo bounded on stage with his major hit Mi Caan Sleep and the crowd went wild. Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2001Anthony B, Prezident Brown, and Collie Buddz fired up the crowd with frenetic intensity. Their conscious sermons met with a waving sea of red, gold and green flags.

With any show this large, there were many acts I was not able to catch such as Rebelution, Tribal Seeds, Reggae Angels, Rupa and the Angel Fishes, The Expanders, Saritah, DJ Leydis, Ozomatli, Mambo This and Jesus Diaz Y Su QBA. I was able to see short but excellent segments of 7th Street Showcase, and a mix of Dubskin with Alcyon Massive.  Massive respect goes out to all of these artists who I am unable to write about and yet, who contributed to the overall success of the festival. The backing bands such as New Kingston, Gumption and others supported the show with perfection and true rootical style.

The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is far more than a three day music event. It is a magical time and place where the best of human kind is reflected in the community of people who perform and attend. Photographers, writers, vendors, and volunteers unify in spiritually charged collective consciousness. Producers, Warren Smith, Gretchen Franz and Jennifer Buchanan each year create a mythical experience that fills the souls of the people. Their work and vision will be treasured for generations to come.


Reproduction without permission of United Reggae and Sista Irie is prohibited.

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Read comments (1)

Posted by collieman11 on 07.11.2011
Awesome article and great photos! Rebelution is such a sweet band, I'm glad they are diversifying the reggae scene!

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