Bringing the world home

The ninth-annual Chico World Music Festival looks to win crowds with some relatively unknown artists

La Bottine Souriante

La Bottine Souriante

Preview: Chico Performances presents The Chico World Music Festival, Chico State, Oct. 4-6. On Oct. 5-6 the daytime performances on the Kendall Hall lawns feature performers on three stages, art classes, art display and workshops--all of which are free and open to the public. Evening performances of La Bottine Souriante on Friday and Susana Baca on Saturday are $10 for Butte College and CSUC students, $12 for students /children, $15 for seniors, $18 for adults and $22 for premium seats.

Every year about now, when the hot summer sun turns down a notch the number of local events always seems to pick up, as Chicoans find themselves renewed and ready to socialize.

An eclectic annual event many look forward to is the popular Chico World Music Festival, which takes over the Chico State campus this weekend, Oct. 4-6, and always includes an intriguing mix of music and food from different cultures. This year is no exception, with colorful events scheduled both days on the festively decorated Kendall Hall lawns and evening performances in Laxson Auditorium featuring the wild Canadian Celtic jazz of La Bottine Souriante and the soothing, exotic sounds of Peruvian diva Susana Baca, fresh off her Latin Grammy win for best folk album.

An estimated 4,000­5,000 people will visit the event over the two days, many for the large number of free shows, ethnic foods, craft and artisan booths and free workshop classes that run Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. under the shaded canopy of trees on the Kendall Hall lawns.

Organizer Dan DeWayne says it’s impossible for him to pick favorites each year, but he always hopes that audience members will walk away from the weekend having found something new. Over the year, he decides who will perform by listening to advice, exploring music himself and cross-checking which bands are on tour at the time of the festival. But it’s the entire festival experience that he really loves.

“I liken it to traveling,” he says. “When you go out in the morning you can turn left and have one experience, turn right and have a completely different one. … We’ve tried to create a diversified presentation of great artists where there is always something going on. I love that about festivals.”

He mentions several new additions this year, including Chico Art Center workshops, a show of children’s art from Chico Unified School District, and local caterer David Guzzetti, who will also be on hand offering his own delicious dishes among many savory cultural foods always available, from sushi and Mexican to lots more.

Here’s a brief rundown on the performers:

La Bottine Souriante (Friday, 7:30 p.m. in Laxson Auditorium) originated in 1976 in Quebec, Canada, where they are considered stars. The diverse group has been together over 20 years and has put out nine albums, honing its dynamic stage presence. The music is a unique mixture of Celtic, jazz, salsa and pure folk that identifies with the World Beat movement as it blends a continuation of many different European folk elements (most songs on its new album are sung in French). Instruments involved include: trumpet, fiddle, guitar, button accordion, bass trombone, sax, drum, acoustic and electric bass and more. This is music likely to get the crowd up and dancing.

Susana Baca

Photo by Joanne Savio

Susana Baca (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Laxson) is touring behind her latest release, Espíritu Vivo (Luaka Bop), which just won a Latin Grammy for best folk album thanks to its mixture of beautiful, cool vocals sung in Spanish (Baca is a world class diva) and her veteran band’s deep and relaxing Afro-Peruvian grooves. While we’re not sure who will be on tour for this show, her album features the cream of New York’s elite downtown scene, including pianist John Medeski (MMW), guitarist Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, John Zorn) and Sergio Valdeos on acoustic guitar and backing vocals. Her album was recorded last year near the events of Sept. 11 in New York, which understandably had a profound effect on the singer. She says the songs were sung not “purely for pleasure of making music, but to convey, with drama and joy, that life is stronger than ever and continues with a Live Spirit"—hence the album’s name, Espíritu Vivo. Once you hear the passion she conveys with her lovely voice, you will be amazed. Fans of Buena Vista Social club and elegant, international female singers should not miss out.

Mumbo Gumbo brings high-energy dance music that combines Cajun, jazz, blues, rock and boogie for overall good time music. The Waybacks are billed as “acoustic mayhem” and play everything from Kumbaya free folk to cowboy jazz, bluegrass, originals—featuring mandolin, fiddle, bass and brush drum work. Dan DeWayne thinks the amazing accordion player Joaquin Diaz will greatly impress the crowds, as he and his band play traditional meringue from the Dominican Republic. Kolev Family­Balkan Voices are Bulgarian masters who sing and play the multi-rhythms of Europe; they also are going to offer a vocal workshop. The Chico High School Choral Group, one of our finest local voices, will be performing music from the upcoming Les Misérables production. And Troika Folk Dance returns to teach exciting dances from Russia, Croatia, Israel and more.

The Antonio Calogero Ensemble present innovative world music/jazz works. Singer/fiddler Rani Arbo joins Daisy Mayhem, a funky and soulful acoustic string and swing band with four-part harmonies and the sounds of ukulele, banjo and fiddle. Renowned vocalist Laura Fuentes y Calicanto explore Latin American music with visits to Chile, Peru, and the Galapagos Isles. And once again, Troika Folk Dance (see Saturday).