From tango to reggae, Big Bones’ blues to Celtic rock. With the sound of Steel Drums, electronics, Indian flute, hip hop and musical saw the second annual Berkeley World Music Weekend will make a joyous noise on and around Telegraph Avenue during this weekend, all for free (except a Saturday night show at Larry Blake’s for $8), with a little bit more than something for everybody—from everywhere.
With 27 performances featuring more than 70 musicians at over a dozen venues (including People’s Park), World Music Weekend goes into its second year with a great deal of ambition and local talent.
“The Taarka Quartet is the only non-Bay Area group we’ve booked,” says event organizer Gianna Ranuzzi, who described the band’s music as Gypsy hypno-jazz. “They’re playing both days for free and have been great to work with. The musicians advise us on the shows, tell me what worked for them and what didn’t last year, turn me on to the best people to bring in, then throw their own parties by bringing in friends and special guests to jam at their performances.”
Ranuzzi said one of the best aspects of the music weekend is that people can enjoy the avenue and see how beautiful People’s Park can be.
The shows begin at noon Saturday with Zulu Spear’s Khumbala Dance Company. A double concert with Reggae City Band and Groove.Org will play in People’s Park from 3-5 p.m. Other performances in and around cafes and businesses include La Peña favorite Rafael Manriquez, as well as saw player Morgan Cowin and others at Julie’s Healthy Cafe. Salaat will play Arabic and Turkish Sufi music in a dual show with Spirit of Ireland, featuring Melanie O’Reilly at Raleigh’s. Glenn Morgan will play at Cody’s on his hammer dulcimer.
Other shows around the avenue include The Shots (an Irish/Bluegrass/Cajun band), Peter MacDonough and Quiet Dignity (paying Brazilian-Afro-Cuban music), Alan Smithline (on acoustic Steel Guitar), Bokei Steel Drums, and Islands Of Fire Drum Ensemble.
Also on Saturday, Laurie Chastain on fiddle and Ed Sherry on guitar, mandolin, and bouzouki will play at Baguette at 5 p.m. with a reading of Julia Vinograd’s poem, “Limbo Town,” about Berkeley.
Sunday’s music begins at noon, with harmonica ace Big Bones on the plaza in front of Cody’s, while Cortez Harmon will play Latin jazz trumpet with his ensemble at the Durant Food Court. Annette Bauer will play the North Indian sarod at The Musical Offering at 1 p.m., while Fredi Bloom sings traditional Jewish Song at C’Est Cafe. Blues and Americana This Old Band plays on the street, and Sandeep Bhatt sings devotional and Bollywood with Robin Sukhadia. Others include Jeff Whittier on Indian flute, and The Toids (New Balkan).
Sunday also will bring Venezuelan rhythms with flute Snake Trio at the Beau Sky Hotel at 2 p.m. and DJ Cheb i Sabbah, who plays an African, Arabic, Indian mix, with a dancer at 4 p.m. at Amoeba. The festival closes with Tango No. 9 at The Village at 6 p.m.
“Many of these musicians are trained in a classical tradition, carrying it further through improvisation,” Ranuzzi said. “They’re rooted in that, but are also entertainers and this is an intimate event where the performers are available; you can talk to them.”
For more details, see www.telegraphberkeley.org of for day-of-event information, go to the event table outside Cody’s Books, 2454 Telegraph Ave.