Bapak I Dewa Putu Berata is an internationally acclaimed Balinese musician, teacher, and composer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area and Pengosekan, Bali. A graduate of STSI Denpasar (Bali’s National Academy of the Arts), he has been an artistic collaborator with dance troupes, theater companies, and music ensembles in multiple countries. He has served as Gamelan Sekar Jaya’s Guest Music Director many times since his first residency in 1994. Berata is the founder and director of Çudamani, one of Bali’s most innovative and acclaimed gamelan ensembles that has toured extensively including appearances at the Cultural Olympiade (Greece), EXPO (Japan), Tong Tong Festival (Holland), and Lincoln Center & Zellerbach Hall (USA). Çudamani has become one of the most vibrant centers of artistic activity in Bali, endeavoring to study rare classic forms of Balinese arts. Berata’s life’s work has been dedicated not only to the arts, but to creating community by providing opportunities for active arts engagement to children, youth, women, and elders. He is also the musical director for Gamelan Sekar Jaya, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering artistic exchange between Bali and the United States and to sharing the excitement of this exchange with diverse audiences in California, the US, and abroad.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 10/23/2020.
A professional son jarocho musician, luthier, and instructor, César Castro has been an active liaison between communities in the US and Veracruz, Mexico, for over fifteen years through Radio Jarochelo, a community-based podcast series he started in 2010, as well as various cultural projects, artist residencies with musicians from Veracruz, and cultural events in local communities, cultural centers, schools, universities, and California state prisons. He is very active as a community activist working to promote community building through music and participatory projects, particularly traditional Mexican son jarocho music. He conveys vast knowledge and experience in son jarocho/fandango musical practices and engages disenfranchised communities in building self-sustaining projects that tap into and build upon cultural knowledge, embodied experience, and memory. He plays requinto, jarana, improvises lyrics, and dance son jarocho.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/15/2020.
Originally from San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora, México, Jesús (Chuy) Guzmán is the musical director of the acclaimed Los Angeles-based Mariachi Los Camperos. Born in 1964 and passionate about playing violin since age six, Jesús, known by the nickname “Chuy,” moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1980s determined to be part of Los Camperos, a mariachi group he had admired since he was a little boy. Former Los Camperos musical director Nati Cano invited Chuy to join the group in 1988 and has been the musical director of the group since 1992. Los Camperos’ abundant accolades, including multiple Grammy awards and nominations and highly praised performances on premier concert stages such as Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the Getty Center, can easily obscure the fact that its leaders come from humble roots, deep within a mariachi tradition shaped by family and community. In 2018, they provided the musical accompaniment for the New York debut of the world’s first mariachi opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (“To Cross the Face of the Moon”) by the New York City Opera. In 2019, Smithsonian Folkways released De Ayer para Siempre.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/09/2020.
Karen Celia Heil, a longtime resident of San Francisco, has a thriving practice playing and teaching American old-time music on fiddle and guitar and performing locally, nationally, and internationally with bands such as the Bucking Mules, KC & the Moonshine Band, Plaid Strangers, and many other luminaries of old-time music. She has won awards for her playing at Clifftop with the Bucking Mules (First, First, Second and Fourth) and for her fiddling (Second), as well as at the Santa Barbara Fiddler’s Festival (First and First). Karen is a skillful, fun, and enthusiastic teacher and teaches at camps and festivals, holds classes locally, and teaches private lessons. Her performing experience includes being cast in an award-winning production of the musical Fire On the Mountain (2015) and the Kate Weare Dance Company production and recording of Brightlands (2011). A natural live wire, she brings lots of spark and current to her teaching practice and to old-time music at large.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 9/1/2020.
Luis Herrera is brother number two in his family band, Hermanos Herrera, a musical group consisting of five brothers and their younger sister. The group plays various styles of traditional Mexican music such as son huasteco, son jarocho, and norteña music. They have shared their music with a wide audience, performing throughout the U.S. and Mexico at world-renowned venues, and shared the stage with Los Tigres del Norte, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, Linda Ronstadt, Los Lobos, Intocable, Julieta Venegas, and Banda el Recodo, to name a few. In 2015, Hermanos Herrera joined the nationwide campaign to encourage Latinos in the United States to attend and graduate from college. Through their music they have raised over $100,000 for the community and have assisted in countless fundraising and community service events, educating children and assisting those in need. Hermanos Herrera continue to promote cultural awareness and appreciation of their Mexican heritage with musical presentations and workshops at both the elementary school and collegiate levels. They released their ninth recording, Ayer, Hoy y Para Siempre in April 2020.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/08/2020.
Daniel Ho is an ‘ukulele virtuoso, slack key guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, singer-songwriter, producer, audio engineer, and record company owner. Daniel’s collaborations transcend genres, from Hawaiian regional roots to world music with Mongolian nomads, to duets with Pepe Romero, the maestro of classical guitar, to jazz and rock with Tak Matsumoto of the Japanese supergroup, B’z. Daniel is a six-time GRAMMY Award winner, eleven-time GRAMMY Award nominee, six-time Taiwanese Golden Melody Award winner, and recipient of multiple Hawaiian Music awards. Always on the move, Daniel is an American cultural ambassador, with tours completed to Japan, Thailand, Brunei, and Australia. In infinite pursuit of new musical adventures, he is also the designer of the Romero Creations Tiny Tenor ‘ukulele, Ohana Bongolele, and Shakerlele. His custom-designed six-string ‘ukulele is on exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/24/2020.
Dewa Ayu Larassanti is a Balinese dancer, musician, and vocalist who regularly teaches at Sanggar Çudamani, a Balinese performing arts school founded by her parents in Pengosekan, Bali. With Çudamani, she has toured Greece, Japan, Canada, and the United States. Ayu grew up both in the Bay Area and in Bali, experiencing the challenges and the beauty of two worlds. She loves to study different forms of music and dance, including choral music, jazz dance, and hip hop. She is a student at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 10/31/2020.
Ricardo Lemvo has established himself as a pioneer with his innovative music. Lemvo’s blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms with pan-African styles (soukous, Angolan semba, and kizomba) has been described as seamless and infectious. This Congo-born artist of Angolan ancestry is the embodiment of the Afro-Latin Diaspora which connects back to Mother Africa via the Cuban clave rhythm. Lemvo is truly multicultural and equally at home singing in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Lingala, and Kikongo. Lemvo hails from São Salvador Do Congo (M’Banza-Kongo), Zaire, in Northern Angola. He grew up in Congo-Kinshasa, where he was introduced to Cuban music by a cousin who owned a large collection of vintage Cuban LPs. Lemvo came to the US more than thirty years ago to pursue a law degree but ended up devoting his life to music. Since forming his Los Angeles-based band Makina Loca in 1990, Lemvo has refined his craft and vision, raising his joyous voice with strength and inspiring his audiences to let loose and dance away their worries. Through the years, Lemvo has performed countless shows in many festivals, night clubs, and performing art centers throughout Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Australia. Lemvo’s seven CDs have been enthusiastically acclaimed worldwide.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/30/2020.
Kai Lyons is a twenty-five-year-old jazz guitarist. Growing up in the Excelsior District of San Francisco, he was surrounded by music and community from an early age. He completed his studies at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in 2012 as the first to graduate from the acclaimed Classical Guitar Program. From 2012-2014, on full scholarship, Kai attended the prestigious jazz program at William Paterson University in New Jersey. He studied with Vincent Herring, Gene Bertoncini, Harold Mabern, Rich Perry, and Hal Galper. Kai received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from San Francisco State University, where he studied with Andrew Speight, Michael Zisman, and Hafez Modirzadeh. Ever since returning to the Bay Area in 2015, he has freelanced extensively and also traveled frequently to New York City, New Orleans, and the Caribbean on music trips. Besides working with his own trio, Kai has performed with Mike Clark and Donald Harrison of Herbie Hancock’s Original Headhunters, Louis Romero, award-winning organist Wil Blades, Larry Vuckovich, Sueños, and Illy Bogart. He plays Cuban music and bossa nova music as well and is passionate about music playing.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/08/2020.
Born and raised in the Tohoku (東北) area in Japan and having lived in Tokyo as well, Kozue is now based in the Los Angeles area. She has played the koto since she was three years old under Ikuta-ryu (生田流) Miyagi-kai (宮城会) and holds a semi-master title (準師範). She has also played the shamisen and the shinobue since she was very young. In North America, she has been collaborating with various musicians and movement, visual, installation, and other types of artists. Not only does she play traditional, contemporary, and experimental music, she also improvises, composes, and creates mixed media arts. She has contributed her koto sounds to 2020 Tokyo Olympics (postponed) as well as Ghost of Tsushima, a PS4 game released in 2020. She has participated in various projects and performances including at Center for World Music (San Diego, CA), SASSAS (Los Angeles, CA), Washington Street Art Center (Boston, MA), and Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble (Vancouver, Canada), to name a few. A Japanese music ensemble instructor at California Institute of the Arts, she has been invited as a guest lecturer by schools in California and also travels throughout the U.S. for lectures, master classes, and workshops. She studied improvisation, composition, and music technology, and graduated with a Performer-Composer MFA from California Institute of the Arts.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 10/14/2020.