WorldFest transcends boundaries, builds community

For the next four days, thousands of people will visit the Nevada County Fairgrounds to hear live music from around the globe during the 17th annual California WorldFest.

This summer’s WorldFest takes place Thursday (July 11) through Sunday with music from Grammy-nominated Bruce Hornsby and Canadian Songwriter Bruce Cockburn to quieter talents such as Northern California-bred Rita Hosking and Native Americana musician, Martha Redbone Roots Project.

Music lovers will set up camp in tents and RVs or come for the day to hear and dance to the music of their favorite artists and discover new ones on eight stages under tall pine trees. Children will play with new friends on the rolling lawns in an environment where social class doesn’t matter.

In one weekend, festival attendees can expect to hear Israeli folk, Scottish fiddle, Zydeco and Cajun, Brazilian guitar, Malian desert blues and more. It’s an atmosphere that festival organizers have spent years cultivating.

“For me and my wife, our first love is the festival setting,” said Dan DeWayne, who runs the show with his wife Christine Meyers.

No stranger to the festival scene, DeWayne was one of the original founders of the popular Strawberry Music Festival in Yosemite and the Chico World Music Festival.

“Dan DeWayne is an icon in the world of concert presenters. With passion, care and meticulous attention to detail he’s been able to create events that are much more than the sum of their parts. He brings out the best in performers,” said Nevada County musician and impresario Peter Wilson.

The outdoor, camping setting of Strawberry was a locale partially inspired by the early days of the California Bluegrass Association’s annual Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

“That certainly reinforced the points of view we were looking at,” said DeWayne.

This is the first season of retirement from his day job. In December, DeWayne retired from his post as director of university events at California State University, Chico. During 15 years at the university, he brought 1,100 shows to the Laxson Auditorium. Besides theater, dance and music performers such as Yo-Yo Ma, Emmylou Harris and Wynton Marsalis, DeWayne was responsible for bringing eight Nobel Peace Prize winners and world-renowned environmental and social justice speakers to the campus. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev and Jane Goodall were among them.

World Music is a musical category that encompasses many different styles of music from around the world, including traditional and quasi-traditional music and music where cultural traditions intermingle.

DeWayne doesn’t like to define the genre, but he considers world music to be a form of folk music played by folks anywhere around the world.

“Great music transcends any boundaries we put up. When you’re at a great performance you automatically feel it,” he said.

A cross section of talent is represented at the festival. Appearances are as diverse as the multi-lingual, 15-piece band — Pink Martini to the Bhangra, Celtic and Electronica sounds of Delhi 2 Dublin.

DeWayne wants to be known as the “nicest festival west of the Mississippi.” He enjoys the total immersion that happens in a festival setting, where attendees become participants in the event and everyone is nice to each other.

“At a festival, you are a part of the whole scene there,” DeWayne said.

“No one asks, ‘What do you do?’ Instead, ditch diggers and doctors become friends in a place where music brings people of all ages and backgrounds together and a sense of community and discovery flourish.

“Anyone can come to the WorldFest to feel good, to feel happy,” he said.

DeWayne and Meyers make a point to bring gender equality to the WorldFest stages, where 50 percent of the talent is female driven.

“Equally important as Bruce Hornsby is Allison Brown, leading her group in fabulous ways. I believe 50 percent of the great talent in the world is female. Let’s get them on the stage, period,” DeWayne said.

One of his favorite aspects about WorldFest is the way the festival exposes people to new music. Festival-goers attracted by one act will soon hear music they hadn’t heard before or even thought they liked. Soon they realize they have discovered a new genre of music and as a result, developed a broader, more open-minded cultural perspective of the world.

“What you do is go away talking about someone you discovered. That’s the beauty. I really like that a whole lot,” DeWayne said.

In an era when digital gadgetry is resulting in a more detached society, a desire to unplug is leading people to seek out avenues for reconnecting. WorldFest is a way to take a break from technology and an alternative to expensive “Digital Detox” camps popping up in the Northwest.

“These kinds of things, ways of getting people together, are so important. I think there is something about human interaction that is imperative,” said DeWayne.

Learn more at http://worldfest.net

Contact freelance writer Laura Brown at 530-401-4877 or laurabrown323@gmail.com.


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The Union Updated Jul 11, 2013 01:42AM Published Jul 12, 2013 10:31AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.