California WorldFest showcases music from around the globe |

California WorldFest showcases music from around the globe

A large audience assembled for one of the daytime shows offered during the 2016 WorldFest at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley.
Submitted photo by Alan Sheckter |


WHO: The Center For The Arts presents

WHAT: California WorldFest 2017 world music festival

WHEN: Thursday, July 13 to Sunday, July 16.

WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley

TICKETS: For detailed ticket information go to the festival website – – Click on “Get on the Bus,” then click on “Get Tickets.” Or buy tickets by phone at 530-274-8384; Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

In the short span of just 30 years, a large percentage of the world’s population has became connected to the internet, a cyber-reality that connects us to an imaginary virtual world.

But amazing music festivals can bring us back into the pulse of life, the real-world of authentic, people-oriented cultural experiences.

A great way to “get real” again is to come to California WorldFest 2017 – presented by The Center For The Arts. The 21st annual festival runs from Thursday, July 13, to Sunday, July 16, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley.

California WorldFest is a colorful global village of discovery that brings people together from diverse cultures all over the world. Attendees will experience incredible world music, great ethnic food, stunning artwork and crafts, and pleasant sharing, caring, and bonding.

“Our WorldFest mission is honoring native people, emphasizing conscious living and sustainability practices, providing a safe, family friendly environment, celebrating global cultures, and bringing people together through music.”Julie BakerCenter for the Arts executive director

“Yes, this is absolutely one of the premier world music festivals in the country,” said Center For The Arts Executive Director Julie Baker. “I encourage people to come out to listen to some great music, learn wonderful new things about other cultures, shop and eat, have a great time, and support the Center at the same time.”

4-day multicultural village

The Nevada County Fairgrounds will be transformed into a multicultural, global village for four days. The festival will accommodate seven stages of live music, sustainability workshops, an Indigenous People’s Village, onsite camping, and a village marketplace complete with crafts, gifts, and ethnic foods. And there will be many family friendly activities for children and teens.

“Our WorldFest mission is honoring native people, emphasizing conscious living and sustainability practices, providing a safe, family-friendly environment, celebrating global cultures, and bringing people together through music,” said Baker.

This year one of the exciting components at WorldFest is honoring and celebrating the Nisenan people, the local indigenous tribe in western Nevada County.

The Meadow Stage will open Thursday at 5 p.m. with a Nisenan Native American welcome program lead by Nisenan Tribal Council Secretary Shelly Covert and tribal elder Coleen Fisk. Well-known Native American recording artists Keith Secola and Raye Zaragosa will participate in the ceremony.

“One of the things that’s really important to us is the authenticity and integrity of the festival,” Baker insisted. “The fairgrounds is ancestral land for the Nisenan. If we’re going to be celebrating global cultures — which is what WorldFest is about — we want to start with who was here first within our own community.”

Closing the festival on Sunday night is this year’s main headliner Michael Franti & Spearhead. “Michael Franti’s message of love, unity, and tolerance is perfectly in line with the festival’s vision,” Baker said.

Franti is a musician/singer/songwriter recognized worldwide for his globally conscious lyrics for positive change.

“I make music because I believe it can change people’s lives and make a difference in the world, and music gives us new energy and a stronger sense of purpose,” said Franti.

A culture of global consciousness

Saturday night headliner Nattali Rize offers conscious lyrics with a heavy beat to propel her progressive electro-pop, reggae, and roots rock. She is recognized globally for her unwavering commitment to using her voice and music for the global shift toward freedom, truth, and justice.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 will headline on Friday night. Seun, from Nigeria, is the youngest son of legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Seun performed with his father until his death in 1997. Seun continues to dig deep into many African traditions that reflect the continent’s ancient artistic cultures.

Folk music icon Peter Yarrow – a member of the famous ’60s folk group Peter, Paul, & Mary – headlines Thursday night with Bethany Rufus. His music has always conveyed a message of deep humanity and compassion, and his songwriting has produced many moving hit songs – including “Puff The Magic Dragon,” and “Day is Done.”

WorldFest’s diverse, multicultural music has artists appearing from the U.S. and countries all over the world. From the countryside in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is Joan Soriano, who infuses bachata guitar playing with his beautiful voice. Betsayda Machado is from a small town in Venezuela. Her powerful voice combines perfectly with her band’s Afro-Caribbean rhythms.

Los Hermanos Arango hails from Guanabacoa, Cuba. They will play upbeat strains of Afro-Cuban-jazz and Cuban folk music. Musical groups are also coming from the Inuit tribe in Alaska. And Villa Lobos, from Veracruz, Mexico, will contemporize traditional Mexican Ranchero music.

There will be seven stages at WorldFest for over 50 musical groups — five stages during the day and two more added during the evening hours.

“Another thing that is new this year is doing two more late-night dance parties,” said Baker. “The curfew for nighttime music starts at 11 p.m., but our younger contingent is not finished partying. So we’ve added Friday and Saturday night until 2 a.m. indoors, so we don’t bother our neighbors.”

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., one of WorldFest’s longtime sponsors, will bring a VW tasting bus to the event.

“They’ll be doing beer tasting from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday through Sunday,” Baker said. “And local buskers will be playing their music during the tasting.”

David Gaines is a freelance writer who lives in Grass Valley. He can be contacted at

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––WORLDFEST PHOTO CAPTIONS

1. Aztec dancer–Dancers from Mexico present their folkloric dances in beautiful costumes at last years WorldFest. PHOTO BY ALAN SHECKTER

2. Native dancer with friends–Native American dancer is joined by members of the audience at last years WorldFest. PHOTO BY ALAN SHECKTER

3. Nattali Rize — Accomplished singer/songwriter and activist Nattali Rize is shown in this photo with her band. PHOTO COURTESY OF WORLDFEST

4. Raye Zaragoza– Native American/Taiwanese singer-songwriter Raye Zaragoza is shown performing with her band.


5. Big Crowd image– A large audience is assembled for one of the daytime shows offered at last years WorldFest.


6. Michael Franti & band–Singer/songwriter Michael Franti is shown with his band Spearhead before a concert.


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