Arts Listings

World Music Festival This Weekend Along Telegraph

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday June 02, 2006

The Berkeley World Music Weekend is this weekend, Sat. and Sun., from noon-9 p.m., on Telegraph Avenue from Bancroft Way to Parker St., with over two dozen performances, all free. 

The festival “is music for everyone ... not only showcasing the variety of traditional and contemporary music in the Bay Area ... but with many glimpses into the often-unseen sides of the Telegraph neighborhood, a vibrant part of the community that exemplifies what Berkeley is,” said Gianna Ranuzzi, the event’s organizer. 

Picking up a schedule at the information table in front of Cody’s Books, at Telegraph at the corner of Haste, gives an idea of the great spectrum of sounds and where to find them as the Weekend unfolds. 

Events kick off Saturday at noon at outdoor and indoor venues turned into music cafes, as well as on street corners and in People’s Park.  

Remencier’s “Radtrad” Celtic music, with Laurie Chastain, Ed Sherry and Tris King, leads off at Cafe Med on Saturday. Other delights along the avenue include The State of Gujarat’s Indian folk music with vocals, The Spirit of ‘29 playing Dixieland and Klezmer, and The Smyrna Time Machine with the “Greek Blues” of Rebetika as well as the dance music of the Aegean. There will also be Arabic, Andalusian, Reggae, Latin and more (and jazzier) Irish music. 

In People’s Park from 1-5 p.m., there’ll be “the first outdoor musical event of Amoeba Music,” an All-African mini-event, with Dijaly Kunda Kouyata (Senegalese), Markus James and the Wassonrai with Stephen Kent on didjeridu, playing and singing “Blues from Mali,” and the West African Highlife Band.  

From 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Mario Tejada will open his rarely seen banquet room at La Fiesta, next to Amoeba Music, for Parlor Tango. “So there’ll be dancing, inside and out, all afternoon,” said Ranuzzi, “and the walls at La Fiesta are thick; other sounds from the park won’t intrude.” 

Sunday will open up with Sean Smith’s acoustic steel guitar at Ann’s Kitchen, with Unity Nguyen playing Vietnamese music at The Med while Pete Olson’s Trio comes across with cajun and Country Stomp at the Durant Food Court, from 12:30-2 p.m. 

Rafael Manriquez’s Chilean sounds will overlap with Orquesta D’Sol’s salsa and funk at Cody’s and on the veranda of the Beau Sky Hotel, respectively. Other Latin flavors will be presented by Quijerema’s “New Latino Americana,” on Saturday and by the Mauro Correa Quartette with Brazilian Chorro Sunday, both at Raleigh’s Pub.  

After an arc of sounds—from Jeff Whittier on classic Indian flute to Kaila Flexner and Gari Hegedus’ New Balkan sounds, from Moh Alileche’s Amazighe Berber music and song to John Waller’s Psychedelic Funk—the weekend ends with the trio of Stephen Kent, Geoffrey Gordon and Peter Valsamis going “beyond World Music” with didjeridu and electronic trance grooves in the Festival Finale, 7-9 p.m. at The Village. 

One act deserves a special mention: Vukani Mawethu, a nonprofit multiracial choir singing South African freedom songs in Zulu, Xhosa, Sethu and English, were originally formed in 1986 by the late choirmaster James Madhlope Phillips for just one concert at Zellerbach Hall. They have performed on the same stage as Nelson Mandela and have toured the cities and townships of South Africa in 1997. Vukani Mawethu will present their choral harmonies at Cody’s, 3-4 p.m. on Sunday. 


The Berkeley World Music Weekend plays at various locations around Telegraph Avenue, Sat.-Sun., June 3-4, noon-9 p.m. For more information see  


Contributed photo  

Markus James & the Wassonrai will perform Mali Blues during Berkeley  

World Music Weekend's all West African concert at People's Park Saturday 1-5 p.m.