California WorldFest | Celebrating world music, culture

Nattali Rize Band

This socially conscious California WorldFest brings together diverse artists from around the world – Africa, the Ukraine, Australia and Venezuela, to name a few – earning it the moniker the “festival of discovery.”

California WorldFest
July 13-16 | 10 a.m.-11p.m.
Nevada County Fairgrounds | Grass Valley

Female reggae artist Nattali Rize from Australia brings heavy beats and conscious rebel lyrics to a progressive electronic foundation and Suen Kuti & Egypt 80 from Nigeria digs deep into various African traditions to reflect the continent’s struggles and cultures. Among our country’s many indigenous performers is Supaman, a Native American hip-hop artist from Montana. These artists highlight the struggles and challenges not only facing their cultures, but also the world. From across the border, the Villalobos Brothers and the multicultural all-women band, Mariachi Flor de Toloache represents Mexican style.

 Watch a sneak peak of this year’s WorldFest

“Our mission is to promote the arts, arts education, building community and providing cultural engagement, which is much needed at this time,” says Julie Baker, executive director of Grass Valley Center for the Arts, which has organized the 20-year event for the last three years. “It’s important in these times to promote acceptance and tolerance and learn about other cultures.”

“In curating the festival, we are conscious of who we bring, where they come from, celebrating cultures, indigenous cultures and a balance of male and female artists.”
– Julie Baker

Through song, dance, art, crafts, generational storytelling and music, the festival offers a platform. “In curating the festival, we are conscious of who we bring, where they come from, celebrating cultures, indigenous cultures and a balance of male and female artists,” says Baker. “We want to honor the indigenous cultures of Nevada County. The Nisenan, an indigenous tribe to Nevada County, will be offering an opening ceremony. The fairgrounds are their ancestral land.”

This year, Michael Franti & Spearhead are headliners for the festival. An outspoken activist for peace and harmony, Franti’s lyrics are conscious and aware. His humanitarian, social justice and peace efforts continue to inspire his music.

Peter Yarrow

Advocate for Native American artists, folk singer Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, will be performing, as well. Yarrow has been an activist for equal rights, peace, the environment, gender equality, homelessness, hospice care and education.

From Cuba, we get a taste of Afro-Cuban jazz with Los Hermanos Arango. The group is comprised of four siblings from Guanabacoa: bassist Feliciano, percussionist Eugenio, vocalist Cristina and guitarist Ignacio. Their municipality in Cuba is known for its high level of musical and afro-religious tradition.

Keyboardist Julio Valdez, originally from Panama, has been part of the band since 2014. He met Ignacio while living in San Diego playing in the local music scene some 20 years ago. Eugenio was a percussionist for Pablo Milanés, whom Valdez describes as the “Dylan of Cuba.” Feliciano was a top jazz bassist in Cuba. The Arangos received awards and accolades for their first album, “Oro Negro,” and began playing in Europe. It wasn’t until Valdez heard a CD that everything changed.

“I was in awe. I had never heard anything like them. I told Ignacio we had to get them here,” said Valdez.

They were all playing in Cuba at the time. He applied for visas and brought them to the states.

“They asked me to play with them and it was like a dream come true,” said Valdez.

He describes their sound as Afro-folkloric jazz.

“It’s jazz with singing. The songs are ancient African language used by the slaves that were brought to Cuba. Slaves from Brazil, Haiti and Cuba used these songs in ceremonies. They have specific rhythmic patterns on African drums,” says Valdez. “The brothers are all classically trained musicians, essentially playing and singing songs the Africans sang to God.”

Growing up in Panama, Valdez says that he, too, listened to Afro-beats growing up. The band has a primal sound, yet is professional. Valdez is also part of a Latin jazz project in San Diego when he’s not traveling with Los Hermanos Arango.

“The Arango family is so humble and down to earth,” says Valdez.

They will take the stage at California WorldFest on July 15.

With so many artists performing at California WorldFest and its mission to build connections, this is undeniably a must-attend summer festival. |