The anticipation is building for reggae and world music aficionados from Mendocino County and beyond to gather up their camping equipment and prepare for their annual pilgrimage to The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, which kicks off next weekend, June 22-24, at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville. Sierra Nevada features three days of the best in roots reggae and world music taking place on two stages, with a late-night "Jamaican style" dancehall.
Many music fans consider SNWMF the premiere music festival of the year and plenty of people travel from thousands of miles away to enjoy the richness that is available to locals via a quick drive over the mountain.
Reggae DJ James Snidnow has traveled to the festival for 12 years, though his move to Willits last year makes the journey a whole lot easier than when he was living in Irvine and had to drive eight hours through the night to arrive. "There's something that's really magic about this festival, it's worth traveling for...I always tell people how great this festival is, wherever I go, I'm an ambassador!"
"People need upliftment and encouragement," said Snidow, "This festival is a learning experience, a cultural experience, a family gathering...I come for the community, the music, to see artists that I wouldn't otherwise get to see, and definitely the food. Where else do you get so much great food from so many cultures, and you don't have to clean up after?"
Snidnow mentioned that he liked the festival's emphasis on recycling and the overall vibe of respect and care that emanates throughout it. In keeping with the community atmosphere, there are several local non-profits that benefit from this festival, including Anderson Valley Seniors, Anderson Valley Sports Boosters Club, The Lucy Moore Foundation and a group dedicated to keeping local Hendy Woods State Park open.
"The quality of talent that Warren (Smith, promoter of this festival) brings is unsurpassed, said Snidnow. "He brings out many old school artists that I used to only wish I could see. For many of them, this is their first time to America."
In addition to more than three dozen bands, the 19th annual Summer Solstice and World Peace Celebration also includes an extensive schedule of children's and cultural activities, arts and crafts, an international food court, camping and vendors galore. With beautiful streaming colors and exotic aromas, the festival village is an attractive marketplace of food and craft booths created by the collective efforts of artists, vendors, staff, volunteers and ticket buyers that has something to offer children of all ages.
Each year, the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival gathers the best in roots reggae and world music from the four corners of the globe to grace the festival's stages and this year is no exception. Jamaica's own Third World and Jimmy Cliff will highlight the music for Friday and Saturday respectively, while Luciano will be making his first California festival appearance in more than four years on Sunday night. Other artists emanating from the home of reggae music include Israel Vibration, The Twinkle Brothers, Johnny Osbourne, Lutan Fyah, Cherine Anderson, Romain Virgo, Sister Nancy, Stone Love, Earl Zero and Prince Alla, who will be making his California debut at SNWMF 2012. iKronik will be backing several of these artists as well as performing their own set.
The outspoken voice of England's Linton Kwesi Johnson will be performing backed by the mighty Dennis Bovell Dub Band. UK dubbers Zion Train will also be coming to rock Boonville, as will David "Ram Jam" Rodigan who recently had the Most Excellent Order of the British (MBE) bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth. The MaŻoris of New Zealand will be represented by Katchafire and House of Shem. From the islands of Hawaii come Iration, Fiji and J Boog. Hailing from the fertile soil of Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley, Indubious will be coming to spread high vibes while California will be well represented courtesy of Jah Sun, Dub Nation, Rocker-T, Afrolicious, AfroMassive and LoCura. Additional world music will be featured by GlobeSonic Sound System and Miami's Locos Por Juana. The masses of Sierra Nevada are in for a special treat when Chile's No. 1 party band, Chico Trujillo, takes to the stage on Sunday.
It is true that SNWMF's lineup features some of music's greatest in world, roots, vintage, dancehall, modern reggae and ska artists. The bands are scheduled in tandem on two stages, and the festival also includes a late-night dancehall that includes sound systems from far and wide. But the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival also features many cultural activities and is "kid-friendly" with an extensive array of activities to please both your children as well as the child in you. The show's varied offerings for children, including music performers on parade, and opportunities for participation in free drum, dance and yoga sessions throughout the weekend make it possible for cultural exploration on many levels.
Clayton Duncan and the Pomo Indian Nation will be opening the festival to present a blessing and dance for the weekend. Solstice Yoga, Samba Stilt Circus, Holistic Hooping and Capoeira Agua de Beber offer movement for the kids to check out. Asheba from Trinidad returns to perform his Carnival dance party set, and Tim Cain comes with his unique acoustic, sing-a-long style to get us singing. Loco Bloco will host the daily parade starting with a workshop teaching Carnival dance and drum to prepare us for the "mas." Duniya Dance and Drum will perform both a West African and Bhangra/Bollywood Indian dance in shows throughout the weekend. Sageman's Drum Temple hosts a drum circle, dance performances and classes by Northern California's talented Company of African Dance Arcata and Group Khindia from Mendocino.
This is a kid friendly festival and event. In addition to special acts designed just for the younger set, there are plenty of scheduled and unscheduled activities for kids to enjoy, including a bounce house, water activities, arts & crafts, and Facepainting by Kathleen and family.
Advance tickets to SNWMF 2012 are now available online and at its independent ticket outlets. The price for a three-day music ticket is $160. Advance single-day tickets are $60 for Friday or Sunday and $70 for Saturday and are only available online. Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
On-site camping is sold out but walk-in camping tickets will be available, until full. Walk-in tickets can be purchased at the Veteran's Hall walk-in entry gate until sold out. The Anderson Valley Brewing Company is also offering alternative camping again this year. While not affiliated with SNWMF in any way, whether you are looking for a bit more solace, a little more elbow room or a shady tree to put your tent under, the Anderson Valley Brewery is an excellent alternative. It is located within walking distance of the fairgrounds and is offering weekend camping for both cars and RVs. Additional information is available on its website.
SNWMF is a three-day Summer Solstice and World Peace celebration that promotes conscious music - music with a message of peace, unity and brotherhood that transcends divisions of race and culture. For additional information, log onto www.snwmf.com, or call the hotline at (916) 777-5550.