Global Groovin’ – Ashland’s Annual World Music Festival
Want to take a spin around the world in four days? Sure!
If you live in Ashland and music makes your world go ‘round, the upcoming World Music Festival can take you there, featuring music from Africa, Hawaii, Cuba, and Arabic rhythm from May 16 to 19. And, if you want hands-on experiences, ScienceWorks has an exhibit and Southern Oregon University has performances as well.
“This is the fourth year of the festival, and it’s been fun to see it develop,” says event coordinator Lonny Flora. “The first year of the festival was 2016 and was called Siskiyou de Mayo with a tagline of A World Music Festival. The name came from the effort to identify the region and time of year, but we quickly learned that ‘de Mayo’ made people think of Cinco de Mayo and assume it was centered around that. To be more apparent about what the festival was we simplified it to the Ashland World Music Festival.”
Over the years, the event has changed, and brought the community together.
“The intent from the outset was to let it grow naturally and not force anything,” recalls Flora. “I really wanted it to be representative of what the community valued. From year one to year two I learned a lot of valuable lessons. First, is it can’t be done alone. Establishing a partnership with groups that could provide their expertise and improve the event was one of the first priorities. Dee Fretwell from Rogue World Music got in touch with me shortly after other efforts had fallen through. They were able to organize the lineup, MC, sound and all the show production which took a lot of pressure off. Establishing the partnership also has helped us all be more efficient at all the different facets of planning and building relationships with businesses.”
But it is all about the music, right? Ana Byers from Rogue World Music (RWM) explained how they produce the AWMF in partnership with Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission and select performers and workshops. Incorporating storytelling, performance workshops, and multiple venues has made the event even more exciting.
“RWM designs festival events, books artists and technicians, manages festival logistics, raises funds for the festival, and helps market the festival,” Byers says. “Right now we extend invitations to international, national, and regional musicians. We are a small festival and therefore work to balance the types of performances offered in our limited performance slots. As we extend invitations, we seek performers who are sharing their story and cultural reality in their work.”
The Ashland World Music Festival Lineup
Thursday, May 16
7 – 9 pm at Rogue Valley Universalist Fellowship: Heartbeat Stories – Storytellers like Karim Nagi and Sophia Blanton share tales from around the world with the audience.
Friday, May 17
1:30 – 3 pm at Southern Oregon University: Arab Rhythm Ensemble – Karim Nagi teaches a class at SOU about rhythm and style and how to work together to make music in a harmonious way.
8 – 11 pm, Turn It Up! with artist Leo Anifowose at Science Works
Saturday, May 18
12 – 6 pm at Lithia Park: Ho’opa’a Hawai’i Club. A group of dancers share traditional Hawaiian dances and music.
Maraval Road: SOU’s Steel band bringing island sounds to Lithia Park.
Karim Nagi: Musician, folk dancer and storyteller playing traditional and modern Arabic music.
Grupo Ritual Azteca Huitzilopochtli: Teaching the Aztec culture traditions.
Sakumuna: Meaning “to bless” in Kikongo, a Central African language, these performers showcase African melodies and harmonies.
Son de Cuba: A five-man band performing Salsa, Timba and Merengue.
Sunday May 19
12 – 3 pm at ScienceWorks: Making Beats Workshop: Leo Anifowose teaching electronic music.