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Ashland World Music Festival resumes Memorial Day weekend

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The San Francisco Yiddish Combo will present its own unique blend of everything that is klezmer, mixed with jazz, blues, folk and even hip-hop influences, when they appear Sunday, May 29, at the Ashland World Music Festival concert in Lithia Park.
Photo by Bob Palermini.
Eugene-based vocalist Ratie D. will bring her chicha, cumbia and Afroi-Peruvian music to the Lithia Park Butler Bandshell as part of the Ashland World Music Festival Sunday concert on May 29.
Portland-based Okaidja Afroso is one of five featured acts that will perform Sunday, May 29, at the Lithia Park Butler Bandshell as part of the Memorial Day weekend Ashland World Music Festival.

On Memorial Day weekend, May 27-30, the Ashland World Music Festival will feature storytelling, a percussion workshop, a self-guided SoundWalk, and an afternoon of musical performances Sunday in Lithia Park at the Butler Bandshell.

All festival events are free, family friendly and ADA accessible. They’re produced by Rogue World Music in collaboration with the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission.

This is RWM’s third fundraising festival for people impacted by the Almeda fire, centering on housing initiatives that will prioritize Almeda fire survivors.

All funds raised this year will be donated to Coalición Fortaleza, a local organization dedicated in part to restoring Latinx neighborhoods in the Rogue Valley that were impacted by the fire.

The 2020 and 2021 fundraisers each raised about $10,000 for fire relief. The goal in 2022 is to meet or exceed that amount.

“We feel that the AWMF is the perfect opportunity to inspire community, create shared moments of joy, and catalyze support for fire recovery,” said Ana Byers, RWM executive director.

Her enthusiasm is shared by Lonny Flora, recreation manager for the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission.

“We’re excited about the return of the festival this year with live performances in Lithia Park,” he said. “It feels great to bring people back together to celebrate music and culture from around the world while supporting the rebuilding of our community.”

Coalición Fortaleza Executive Director Erica Alexia Ladesma expressed her appreciation to all the community partners for supporting its work.

“We are looking forward to telling our story at the festival,” she said.


The AWMF SoundWalk will be live from 6 a.m. Friday, May 27, through 8 p.m. Monday, May 30.

The curated, self-guided, interactive audio/visual experience weaves together the music from artists around the globe with visual installations of art by local artists in downtown Ashland.

Maps of the SoundWalk route will be available for online use as well as downloading and printing by May 25. For more information, go to rogueworldmusic.org.

Percussion workshop

A workshop conducted by 2022 AWMF anchor artist Okaidja Afroso will teach the basics of percussion methods and traditions from the Gah culture of Ghana at 12:30 p.m. Friday, May 27, at the Southern Oregon University Music Building, 450 S. Mountain Ave., Ashland.

Participants are welcome to bring their own percussion instruments. Drums also will be available for use on site.

The workshop is free and open to all experience levels.

HeartBeat stories

An intimate evening of music and stories about “home” will be held at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, 1500 E. Main St., Ashland, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 28.

Participating storytellers include visiting musicians and local community members.

Coalición Fortaleza Executive Director Erica Alexia Ledesma will be the emcee. The event will be held outside if sunny, inside if rainy.

Park performances

Five acts will perform Sunday, May 29, at the Lithia Park Butler Bandshell on Winburn Way from 12 to 5 p.m., rain or shine.

In addition, there will be activities in the park for all ages provided by Coalición Fortaleza, ScienceWorks, Talent Maker City, and others. Plus, delicious fare will be available from Sid’s Gourmet, CABA Empanadas, Sultan’s Delight, and Mahalo Shaved Ice.

People are invited to bring blankets or folding chairs for seating at the free event.

Following is the schedule of performances:

– 12 p.m.: Rik-Sha features sounds, songs and rhythms of the Mediterranean, North Africa and Middle East. The Ashland trio’s lead instruments include the Arabian oud, the high-energy Greek bouzouki, and the Turkish cümbü.

– 1 p.m.: Okaidja Afroso performs music from the Gah culture and Ghana’s Gold Coast. The Portland-based musician was born into a family of musicians and storytellers on the west coast of Ghana. His music is a fusion of traditional and contemporary African rhythms with the diverse songs of the African Diaspora.

– 2 p.m.: San Francisco Yiddish Combo presents klezmer music for the 21st century. The classically-trained group presents its own unique blend of everything that is klezmer, mixed with years of experience in the jazz, blues, folk and hip-hop worlds — with special dancing guests from Ashland’s folkloric dance community.

– 3 p.m.: Ratie D. performs music from the Zimbabwe cultures. The Eugene-based vocalist and composer was born in Zimbabwe. She describes herself as a dreamer who aspires to bring light, love and change through her craft.

– 4 p.m.: Grupo Masato presents a combination of chichi, cumbia and AfroPeruvian music. The multi-ethnic Portland-based band plays danceable music from Latin America that is designed to get the audience on its feet.

Making the festival possible and helping AWMF to meet its fundraising goal are these major supporters: The Collins Foundation, The Oregon Arts Commission, The Oregon Cultural Trust, The Oregon Community Foundation, The Ashland Parks Foundation, The Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission, The Jackson County Cultural Coalition, The Pacific Power Foundation, and Tour West.

Community business partners include Evergreen Federal Bank, Full Circle Realty, Bicoastal Media, Southern Oregon PBS, Royalty Grown CBD, Harry & David, Pacific Corp, and the Nell & Jim Band.

You can add your own support by going to rogueworldmusic.org and clicking on “Donate.”

Reach Ashland writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.