What's Up, Chuck?
Ch-ch-ch-Changes--Both Morgan's Coffee and Tea and The World Music Festival reveal transformations.
Thursday, June 25, 1998
Do all good things come to an end? Of course not. Sometimes they mutate. In the case of Morgan''s Coffee and Tea, owner Morgan Christopher announced earlier this week that this will be his last week as a music promoter--but the music won''t necessarily come to an end. Although Christopher is opting for earlier bed times, he''s hoping that a group of volunteers will pick up the reins and continue the music series in the future.
In his announcement, Christopher said, "Beyond presenting artists in the folk, blues, world, jazz and gospel traditions, the organization (working name: The Monterey Bay Traditional Music Society) [hopes] to put on instructional workshops, offer classes and, perhaps most importantly, work in conjunction with the city and community to establish a permanent acoustic performance venue..."
Christopher''s final performances include a return engagement by singer/songwriter Cheryl Wheeler on Thursday, 8pm, and the MoCo debut of The Murmurs on Saturday, 8pm. 655-6868.
Also morphing this year is the World Music Festival.
Likelast weekend''s Monterey Rock ''n'' Art Festival, the second coming of the World Music Festival represents a scaled-down attempt. Whereas 1997''s version offered about 70 performances on four stages at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, this year''s version offers 10 performances on two stages. And while last year''s mega-concert (which was poorly attended despite its artistic excellence) was presented solely by the Cultural Council for Monterey County, this year''s offering is being presented in conjunction with the Carmel Performing Arts Festival.
Not only is the 1998 World Music Festival paring down the number of performances, it is also changing venues and dates. Last year''s fest was presented at the Monterey fairgrounds in early June; this year it''s being presented the first weekend in October at the outdoor Forest Theater and in the Sunset Center Theater.
Although CCMC has not released a profit/loss statement for last year''s festival, best-guess outsider estimates put the festival several thousands of dollars in the red. This year''s version appears to be a responsible attempt to stanch the suspected hemorrhage of festival bucks while maintaining its nascent momentum.
"This is very comfortable for us this year," says CCMC Executive Director David Cloutier, "because we have the infrastructure of the other festival."
The Carmel Performing Arts Festival, which produced dozens of performances at various venues in Carmel during its three-week tenure in October ''97, also suffered relatively low attendance numbers, and figures to be a beneficiary from the World Music Festival''s change of dates and venues.
Along with date and venue movements, there have been programming shifts for this year''s World Music Festival. Last year''s festival featured performances of roots and fusion music from virtually every continent on the globe, while this year''s fest is heavy on music from Eastern Europe, India and Africa. According to Cloutier, the change in programming reflects his organization''s desire to respect the turf belonging to other Central and Northern California festivals.
As regards North American roots music, "the Fat Fry covers that one," and when it comes to Celtic music, "there is a Celtic festival in Sebastopol the week before," says Cloutier. "We''re honoring everyone else''s position in the festival scene."
The position of this year''s World Music Festival may largely be otherworldly. Relying heavily on percussive, rhythmic music, this year''s fest is sort of a roots answer to the techno and trance craze that dominates the European (and major US cities'') club scene. The final concert of the festival, on Sunday afternoon, particularly highlights this aspect of the festival. As Cloutier describes it, there''s a "continuity on a spiritual level."
Here''s this year''s lineup:
Friday, Oct. 2, at the Sunset Center: West African Highlife Band (Afro Pop) and Sally Nyolo Band (from Cameroon); Saturday afternoon, Oct. 3, at the Outdoor Forest Theater: Hafez Modirzadeh and the Chromodal Consort (Persian inflected jazz and world music), Dresden (from Santa Cruz, plays an eclectic mix of European and world music), and Oscar''s Fatal Mambo (a spicy blend of Franco-Gypsy salsa); Saturday night, Sunset Center: Stellamara (Balkan/Middle Eastern and medieval), Jai Uttal & the Pagan Love Orchestra (Hindu pop music, returning from last year and touring in support of a new album); Sunday afternoon at the Forest Theater: the Latif Bolat Ensemble (Turkish Sufi and village music), Irina Mikhailova (Russian/Central Asian eclectic) and Ghazal (Persian and Indian improvisations with Kayhan Kalhor, Shujaat Khan--another returnee from last year--and Swapan Chaudhuri).
General seating tickets are $14/show in advance; $16/at the door. A general seating pass is $40 for all four shows. Inner circle seating is also available for slightly higher prices. 622-9595.