Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival.

Baaba Maal and Lloyd, Lloyd Brown and World Music Stars Take the Stage at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
By Shelah Moody

            For 17 years, concert promoter Warren Smith and Epiphany Artists have brought the best in reggae and world music to northern California as part of the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival Summer Solstice and World Peace Celebration.
            This year’s festival, held at Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville this weekend (June 18-20), will showcase international and local talent such as Baaba Maal (Senegal),  Gregory Isaacs, (Jamaica) Alborosie (Italy), Fat Freddy’s Drop, (New Zealand),  Lloyd Brown (England) Wadi Gad (Bay Area) the Dubtonic Kru (Jamaica).
            Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with world renowned Senegalese singer and master musician Baaba Maal in a phone interview from Palm Pictures offices in London. Maal said he is looking forward to returning to the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival.
Maal will bring about seven musicians with him playing traditional instruments such and the djembe and the harp. Maal sings primarily in his native language, Pulaar,
            Maal comes from a line of fishermen. His family name, comes from the empire of Mali and means “hippo.” His first name “Baaba” is a traditional name given to guide or a male head of a family.
Maal, who has more than 16 albums to his credit,  is currently promoting his latest,  “Television,” which addresses issues such as climate change and global influence of the media. Maal is currently involved with an organization called Africa Talks Climate.
            “The environment is really important in Africa,” said Maal. “I come from a nomadic tribe and they need to get information on climate change so they can understand what’s happening to them. I’m working closely with the United Nations Development Program on the Millennium Goals. We just have a song that we did with Angelique Kidjo, Oliver Mtukudzi and Yvonne Shaka Shaka that which will be presented at the World Cup, called ‘Eight Goals Away.’ These are the eight goals that I think Africa should achieve during this competition. We are supporting the Millennium Goals to bring awareness on the importance of education, protection of the environment, and giving power to women to get the right place in society. All of this we are doing through music.”
            Maal is known for his expansive range and griotic vocal style. He says he trains his voice by listening to instruments.
            “Instruments are the best way for a singer to develop their voice,” said Maal.
“You know your music and your lyrics, but instruments have different personalities. If you want to make the range of your voice get very wide or big or diverse, I think practicing with instruments, both African and Western is important. Melody is what I’m talking about. We practice singing a lot. We don’t wait until we go on stage or until we have concerts to practice. We sing every time, every day we get a chance to sing, when we are at home in the living room. When we are invited to have dinner at friend’s houses, after dinner, we pick up the instruments and do two or thee songs. It keeps the voice in form. To be able to sing like a bird, the voice needs to be free, without restriction. This is how singers are in Africa.”
            Maal said he learned to sing as a child by listening to his mother and the town griots.
            “They were not professional musicians; they did not expect to travel with music, it was just part of their lives,” said Maal. “I think I was blessed to be able to use my voice in the business and to get opportunities, but at the same time, it’s just a natural instrument that I use to express myself and my life.”
            Lloyd Brown is looking forward to his first Sierra Nevada World Music Festival performance. He said he is absolutely stoked and delighted to be able to perform. He will be backed by a band called Riddim Works.
          Because of his sensual baritone, the reggae/soul singer has been referred to as the British Barry White. Brown, who lives in London, has acquired a large fan base in northern California, performing at venues such as the annual Monterey Bay Reggaefest, the Ashkenaz in Berkeley, Sweet Fingers restaurant in San Leandro and Pier 23 in San Francisco. Brown attributes part of his success to his fans and his manager, Denise Gore, who lives in Sacramento. Gore coined the phase “to see and hear Brown is to really know him.”  Brown’s hits include “Main Squeeze,” “Show Me that You Love Me,” Share the Night” and “Know Yourself.”
            “I’ve also been called the British Frank Sinatra and the British Beres Hammond,” said Brown. “I feel I’m in illustrious company with that role call of artists. Those artists have influenced me. I’m giving my influences to my fans.”
            Brown’s career spans more than 25 years and 13 albums. He specializes in a style of reggae called lover’s rock, which originated in England.
            “Lover’s rock originated in the early to mid seventies in the UK,” said Brown. “A lot of music from Jamaica had a very rootical quality about it. The UK being the first destination that reggae took from Jamaica, we embraced it to a point where we developed style within the reggae genre that had a more romantic feel. Because we live in a cold climate, we make nice round warm music that bring people together.”
            In that case, be prepared for a musical meltdown; temperatures at the fairgrounds are expected to soar past 80 degrees during the day.

What: 17th Annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
Where: Mendocino Campgrounds, Boonville, CA.
When: Friday June 18-Sunday June 20.
Information: (916) 777-5550, 
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1 comment:


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