Fair trade, music & more at Keystone music festival
A global celebration fills Keystone Saturday in the form of its Sixth Annual World Music Festival. Putt-putt your way through 18 countries, taste cultural cuisine, shop and listen to a variety of music at the free event.
Boom Shaka headlines Saturday’s event with genuine roots reggae. Lead vocalist Trevy Felix hails from the Commonwealth of Dominica. When he moved to Los Angeles, he formed Boom Shaka and started recording albums in 1987. These days, the band members originate from Jamaica, Antigua and the United States.Rather than taking its cue from Bob Marley like so many other reggae bands do, Boom Shaka looks to Peter Tosh, known as the African Ghetto King and prophetic figure. Both Tosh and Boom Shaka hold steady to the essence of reggae, in sound and in message, creating a spiritual mediation about JAH and a Rastafarian future.”We come from a tradition where we use music to uplift people’s vibes and uplift the whole culture,” Felix said. “We have a real conversation with the audience and explain to them how we feel.”For example, one of their songs educates people about the “madness of discrimination,” Felix said.Their experience comes through on stage, especially with their rapport.”I think experience is a great teacher,” he said. “We want to guide audiences through illusions that exist. We defend a lifestyle of the way we want to be on this planet – free.”But the show won’t be heavy.”You should expect a great night of reggae music,” Felix said. “We have especially good music for you. We look forward to playing for our cousins, because we’re all one big family on this planet.”
One of the highlights of Keystone festival doesn’t have to do with sounds, but rather, sights. Two fair-trade vendors will sell handmade crafts- everything from jewelry, scarves, handbags and masks to baskets, kids’ games, ceramics, lamps, paper, table linens, wall hangings and instruments.Ten Thousand Villages, out of Fort Collins, has participated at the festival since its inception. It is one of approximately 150 stores throughout North America bearing the name Ten Thousand Villages. In addition, about 400 stores carry Ten Thousand Villages’ products. In 2006, it reached record sales of $20 million and began to sell online.”Fair trade is a relationship that is set up to alleviate poverty in the developing world by giving people a living wage instead of minimum wage,” said Jane Snyder, assistant manager of the nonprofit in Fort Collins. “It has a ripple effect of creating jobs and alleviating poverty. It stimulates their economy … and hopefully (reduces) war and strife.”Artisans and sellers learn about each other in various ways: Artisans visit stores, meet customers and talk about their work, and buyers, or employees of Ten Thousand Villages, visit natives in their own country. More than 70 percent of the artisans are women, who use a democratic process to decide what to make and how to spend the money they receive from their goods.But perhaps what’s most interesting about Ten Thousand Villages is that it started in 1946 -well before “fair trade” was a buzzword. When Edna Ruth Byler traveled to Puerto Rico that year, the overwhelming poverty she witnessed compelled her to take action. She began selling needlepoint from Puerto Rico out of her car. As she educated consumers, word spread, and she opened a small shop. In 1962, the Mennonite Central Committee adopted her Overseas Needlepoint and Crafts Project as an official program.Now the nonprofit sells from products from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.”These are long-term commitments to partnerships in developing countries to make sure they are paid enough to send kids to school, to eat (regular meals) and to (create) a safe environment,” Synder said.And, Keystone’s World Music Festival is one of Synder’s favorite events at which to sell.”We love this event,” she said. “This is the most fun festival that we go to. It’s just so in synch with what we do – expanding cultural awareness.”
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