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World music starts at home

According to Julie Baker, executive director of the Center for the Arts, and curator of the 20th annual California WorldFest, world music starts at home.

That’s why seven of the 48 acts she’s booked for the four-day festival are local groups who play world music.

They range from the high, lonesome sound of Appalachia from Paige Anderson and the Fearless Kin to the Sufi Qawwali devotional music of Fanna-Fi-Allah.

The members of Fanna-Fi-Allah live here, “but they travel all over the world,” said Baker. “They’re really excited, because they’ve never playing WorldFest before.”

The locally based Saul and Elena Rayo with their eight-piece Ray-O-Sun Orkestra will perform their genre-defying, eclectic music at the WorldFest.

“I’m super-excited,” said Elena Rayo. Not only is she is excited to perform, she said she is anxious to see Awa Sangho, the golden voice of Mali. “She has a beautiful voice,” said Rayo.

Rounding out the local stage acts are The Rattlin’ Bones, BuckStar, MaMuse and reggae stars Mystafaya, and Grass Valley Taiko,” said Baker.

The Rattlin Bones are better known to locals as Halfpence and Haypenny, comprised of Sage Airas and Eva Riihiluoma. With the addition of Philip Wright on upright bass, they have changed their name to The Rattlin Bones.

Billing themselves as a fable folk, Bardic folkpunk, neo-Medieval America band, The Rattlin Bones, not only bring their own brand of world music, they bring it from a different world time.

Although he mentioned several local colleagues in acts he wanted to see, Arias said one world band he was looking forward to is Mariachi Flor de Toloache, an all-female, nine-piece mariachi ensemble.


Boz Scaggs, the erstwhile lead vocalist in the Steve Miller Band who went on to a successful solo career, headlines this year’s WorldFest. He takes the Meadow Stage at 8:45 p.m. to close out the festival.

After Scaggs, the name recognition rate of the 48 WorldFest performers drops off rapidly, but that’s the point, Baker said.

“It’s really important to us in this rural community that our youth and everybody are exposed to what is happening concurrently globally,” she said, “whether it’s in Africa or parts of India or wherever it may be.”

Some of the acts people may never have heard of include Nahko & Medicine for the People, Delhi 2 Dublin, Boogat, Earth Guardians, My Bubba, and Silhasin.


“We’ve expanded the Global Indigenous People’s Village,” Baker reported.

“We’ve got three areas there, including a lounge, a stage and an area for dance, so there’s traditional dance.”

Baker said guitarist Sahba Matallebi would play and explain Persian classical art music in a village workshop.

Also, “we’ve got Eva Salina, the Balkan singer. She’ll be doing a Balkan vocal workshop. She invites people to come sing with her,” Baker said.

Mitzi Garnett, the founder of Grass Valley Taiko, will demonstrate the ritualized style of Japanese taiko drumming.

“There are kids’ activities,” Baker stated. This includes arts & crafts, a playground, and performances for children. Juggler/storyteller Izzy Tooinsky, magician Merloch Silvermaine, and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo are acts that have been booked especially for kids. And there’s the festival village market of 40 artisan vendors and 20 food sellers, she added.


New this year, Nevada County residents only — with ID — can buy two Thursday day tickets for the price of one, Baker announced.

Furthermore, as part of the Center for the Arts’ commitment to creating programs that allow the arts to be accessible for all, Baker told The Union July 8 that the center was offering each of two dozen social service nonprofits four, one-day tickets for their clients/constituents.

Not done yet proving the center’s commitment to local musicians, Baker revealed, “We’ve just added a sort of pseudo-busking at the entrance to Gate 1. We will have a whole line of performers there as well. They’ll actually be in front of a VW bus, because that’s our logo this year.”

All the buskers are locals, including Homer Wills and Juliet Gobert, Kelly Fleming, Brendan Phillips, Mariee Sioux, Leta, Azure, Jay Tausig and Joy Cassidy, Hannah Jane Kile, and Emily Rose, Lexi Tyrrell and Camerson Fraser.

“California WorldFest is amazing, and it’s a tremendous amount of work,” Baker concluded, “but it’s such a beautiful thing for us in terms of our mission, not only in bringing great arts entertainment, but also cultural engagement.”

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada County. Contact: or