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Music of the world

Virgin Islands reggae stars Midnite kick off Southern — Oregon University's 2004-2005 One World season at 8 p.m. Friday at the — old Ashland Armory. The award-winning series? lineup this year comprises — eight shows.

The season includes Yerba Buena, Michael Franti and Spearhead, — Angelique Kidjo, Natalie MacMaster, an acoustic evening with Los Lobos, — Habib Koite and Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill.

Midnite's founders are keyboardist "Gainde" Ron Benjamin — and his brother, singer/songwriter Vaughn. In these days of overdubbing, — hip-hop and dancehall re-mixes, Midnite's music has inspired those who — have found contemporary reggae music stagnant.

Here's the rest of the season:

Thursday, Oct. 7 - Yerba Buena will play at the old Ashland — Armory. Venezuelan songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Andres — Levin has brought together some of the top players in Latin music and — created Yerba Buena, a blend of African-rooted Latin music with hip-hop, — Motown, soul, and Nigerian Afrobeat. Levin has written and/or produced — for Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, David Byrne. Yerba Buena evolved from a workshop — in the studio to a dazzling live show invited to open for the Dave Matthews — Band.

Tuesday, Oct. 26 - Michael Franti and Spearhead will return — to the old Ashland Armory. In his two decades of making music, Franti — has honed his message of social justice and protest drawing inspiration — and influences from Bob Marley to Curtis Mayfield. Half his lyrics are — about social justice, and the other half is about how to hold on to spirituality — and community. It's all set to upbeat rock chords, reggae, dancehall, — bossa nova, Afrobeat and funk.

Sunday, Nov. 7 - Angelique Kidjo will perform at the Craterian — Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford. Kidjo's West Africa-based music has — earned her three Grammy nominations. She has cross-pollinated West African — traditions from Benin with elements of American rhythm and blues, Latin — American rhythms, funk and jazz. Kidjo wowed a Britt crowed in June in — Jacksonville along with living legend Hugh Masekela.

Sunday, Jan. 30 - Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster — will return to the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford. MacMaster — took Cape Breton and Celtic music to new lengths in her earlier albums, — and her latest CD, "Blueprint," pushes the boundaries still further.

Sunday, Feb. 27 - Los Lobos will play a rare acoustic — show at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater. The guys from east L.A. play — what they've dubbed "roots music and a whole lot more." They began their — career as a Tejano and Mexican folk outfit, but quickly implemented roots — rock and rhythm and blues into their music. They won commercial success — when the soundtrack to the movie "La Bamba" gave them a No. — hit single, — but they have continued to explore more experimental sonic terrain.

Sunday, March 26 - Habib Koite will return to the old — Ashland Armory. After years as one of Africa's best-kept secrets, he's — finally become one of the leading figures in world music. Born to a family — of griots, he was exposed to ancient Malian traditions as well as modern — blues, soul and rock 'n? roll. Habib has a unique approach to playing — the guitar by tuning his instrument to the pentatonic scale and playing — on open strings.

Saturday, April 16 - Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill will — play at SOU's Music Recital Hall. Irish fiddle virtuoso Martin Hayes and — American guitarist Dennis Cahill possess a rare musical kinship. Hayes — describes their long jams as "a three-way conversation between the two — of us and the music." Like jazz masters, they open the doors of traditional — Irish music to incorporate the worlds of classical, blues and jazz.

Tickets for Midnite are $25 ($12 for SOU students). Tickets — top out at $38 for Los Lobos. Season passes are available at a 20 percent — discount from the price of individual tickets. Other packages include — six or seven shows with a 10 percent discount.

Call 552-6461, or visit www.oneworldseries.org.