Jumping Rastas of of Calaveras County
The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival promises a weekend of high-energy reggae and world music in Angels Camp
If you haven’t heard already, the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is changing locations this year. After seven hot and happening years in Marysville, the festival is moving this summer to Frogtown (the Calaveras County Fairgrounds), home of the legendary Mountain Aire Festivals and onetime regular stop on the Grateful Dead tour. The move is largely due to problems stemming from local gangs and other bad vibes complicating the scene in the Marysville parking area.
“The shows have always been family friendly,” says publicist Mara Weiss, “but we had to move from Marysville because of problems with local gangs. … Kids were finding it easy to sneak into the venue, and there was some stolen property. Now, people aren’t going to have to worry about security; they can just relax and have a good time.”
The huge selection of artists, traveling merchants, and savory international cuisine will still be there; over 35 acts are scheduled to appear for the weekend concert this year, mostly consisting of top-notch reggae talent, but there’s also a good deal of world music, eclectic up-and-coming DJs and, particularly, some hot Afro-Latin groups.
The SNWF has established itself as one of the premier reggae festivals in the entire country, and the new scenic location should only increase its reputation as a haven to celebrate “conscious” music with a message of peace, unity and brotherhood transcending race and culture. The festival will be emceed by Guyana-born Londoner Mad Professor, back by popular demand, setting up his sound lab and using computers, samples and special effects to create his own unique blend of tech-dub with roots vision.
"[On the mountain] the temperature should be about 5 degrees cooler,” Weiss explains. “Still hot.” She laughs. “We won’t have a river this time, but we’re going to make up for it with lots of misting tents … and people who bring their bikes can go 10 miles down the road to New Melones Reservoir, where there’s a huge swimming area.”
It all begins Friday at 5 p.m., with six acts to follow that evening, including Stone Love (Jamaica), Rocker T (Brooklyn), the ever-touring bong-biddy bong man Eek-A-Mouse (Jamaica) and ending with Jamaica’s most famous producer and shaman/trance channeler, dub-specialist Lee “Scratch” Perry. After the live music ends, the one-day pass holders must leave, but for the weekend holders there will be an inside dance hall where DJs will continue spinning until 2 a.m. Camping is available only for weekend pass holders.
“With the artist booking, we always endeavor to bring great reggae artists who rarely tour but have very loyal fans here; we bring these together with the big touring artists,” Weiss says.
Saturday features a long day of music (gates open at 10 a.m.), including dance and drum troupe Group Petit la Croix (San Francisco), who preserve spiritual and creative components of Haitian culture with high-energy, shoulder-sha dances, Twilight Circus Dub (Holland), Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca (Congo), and classic reggae greats Israel Vibration, Gregory Isaacs and Buju Banton (all from Jamaica).
The Sunday show offers some great Afro-Latin sounds, sure to have everyone from dirt twirlers to the mellow attorneys dancing. Chico favorite Ozomatli (Los Angeles) highlights the final night, bringing its mix of funk, salsa, hip-hop and freestyling poetry. Just before the their set should be a great show from Olodum, straight from Bahia, Brazil, featuring the thunder of surdo drums and the unmistakable groove of samba-reggae.
For more specific details on all the artists, check out the colorful festival Web site at www.snwmf.com, a detailed site that has everything you need.