I think the Berkeley World Music Festival has come of age,” said Gianna Ranuzzi, founder of the fifth annual free festivities along Telegraph Avenue, indoors and out, as well as at People’s Park. This Saturday’s day-long, overlapping series of performances of music, song and dance will both build on the previous festivals and reveal new ideas, new collaborations which promise to enrich future events.
The schedule’s available at berkeleyworldmusicfestival.com, Amoeba Music and information stands on Telegraph during the festival.
From Cambodian pop-psychedelic rock (Dengue Fever) to Tango (Hombres of Tango), African funk (Sila & the Afrofunk Experience) or Sufi qawwali song and trance music with didjeridu (Sukhawat Ali Khan with Stephen Kent) to Cajun two-step numbers (Andrew Carriere and the Creole Belles), the festival sprawls over a lot more territory than The Avenue between Bancroft and Parker, from noon until 9 p.m., with music and dancing in People’s Park, 1-5:30 p.m. A post-festival party is offered at Ashkenaz, featuring Jamaican Reggae by Prestige, plus Ras Kidus.
This year there will be a multicultural marketplace, about 20 booths in People’s Park, including handicrafts, ethnic musical instruments and community information—a first for the park itself as well as the festival. “UC has decided to allow vendors in People’s Park on a trial basis,” said Rannuzzi, “and the festival is the first event to feature that.”
Partnering to co-sponsor the festival are “nonprofits from KPFA to Ashkenaz to La Pena,” Ranuzzi enumerated, continuing with a list of agencies and businesses, including Amoeba Records, the Daily Planet, the Pagan Alliance, the City of Berkeley and the Telegraph Ave. Business Improvement District.
“These iconic community groups are supporting a still-young festival,” Ranuzzi commented, “which features free music in both open and intimate settings, cafes and businesses, along Telegraph Avenue—an excellent example of community working together. Anna De Leon of Anna’s Jazz Island called it a prodigy.”
The newly “grown-up” festival has “become its own agency,” according to Ranuzzi, receiving seed money from the Telegraph BID as well as the city. “The Pagan Alliance has been really heroic in their help, and Ashkenaz, with roots in People’s Park, wanted to contribute. And we’re networking with other groups, launching on new horizons.”
The “star class luminaries and local celebrities” include: Diana Rowan and Lily Storm (two Kitka singers with harp and harmonium, singing Old World lullabies), Barvinok Ensemble (Ukrainian/Eastern European), Nazir Latouf (Arabic), Laurie Chastain (Celtic Rad-Trad fiddle), Eva Scow Ensemble (Brazilian Choro & Jazz, led by an incomparable mandolinist, who’s played with David Grisham and in Carnegie Hall), KPFA DJ Larry Kelp with World Sounds and the Disciples of Markos (Rebetika—”Greek blues”) in venues like Amoeba Records, Raleigh’s Cafe, The Village, Rasputin’s Records, Moe’s Books, and The Musical Offering on Bancroft.
In addition, there’ll be music on the street, with Michael Masley on bow-hammer cymbalom all day, outside the former location of Cody’s at Haste Street.
In addition, Mario’s will open up their banquet room for dancing with the Hombres of Tango at 3 p.m. “It’s normally just for catered events,” said Ranuzzi, “But, like last year, it’ll be open, free to the public.”
In People’s Park, Andrew Carriere will lead off with the Creole Belles at 1 p.m., followed by Sukawat Ali Khan and Stephen Kent, SambaDa (Afro-Brazilian Samba Funk), then Sila and the Afro-Funk Experience.
“It’s the biggest day we’ve ever had,” said Ranuzzi. “I’m really thrilled with its new direction, a further step in showcasing the Bay Area world music scene, itself a world center of musical culture.”