Check it out
Who: Mehdi Mogaddam, a local Daf drummer and reciter of 13th century mystic poet Rumi, will be joined by Stephanie Thayer on Doumbek drum, Matt Grasso on guitar, belly dancers and others
When: 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: International House, Davis, 10 College Park
Admission: Free, but donations are welcome; desserts and beverages will be available for sale
Info: (530) 753-5007 or www.internationalhousedavis.org
From Rumi poetry to the reggae beat, guests at the International House’s Sunday night live music series are exposed to lots of different cultures and experiences.
That’s the idea, say producers James Williams and William Bruyette, and it’s been brought to life beautifully each week over the past couple of months by by talented singers, dancers and poets.
Designed as an informal cultural exchange of music, spoken word, art and food, the series is offered from 7 to 10 p.m. Sundays at I-House, 10 College Park in Davis.
Admission is free, but donations of any amount are appreciated. Refreshments are available for purchase each week. The series will continue through May 27.
Upcoming dates features Mehdi Mogaddam, a Rumi poet and master Persian drummer, with drummer Stephanie Thayer, this weekend; Calvin Handy and The Jazz Patrol on April 15; Ron Goldberg and Wendy Silk celebrating the release of their sophomore album, “Puttin’ On The Dog — 2,” which benefits Meals on Wheels, on April 22; and Tree-O featuring Rick Palkovic, Jamie Knapp and George Haver, on April 29.
Williams and Bruyette got the idea for the series last summer.
“I’ve performed at open mics at Village Homes many times over the years,” Williams said during a recent chat. “Bill has been a musician around Davis for a few years. He had the inside track on the talent. I have been a party and event planner for 10 years.”
Their skills were a perfect complement.
Williams and Bruyette wanted to tap into what they see as a “huge multicultural art and performing community in Davis, and a large audience for cross-cultural events,” Williams said.
“Our series is an outreach to the diversity that is so much a part of our city,” he added. “We hope to attract a new energy into I-House.”
International House sees the series as a means to attract younger visitors, who might have interest in becoming volunteers, members or in some way using the facility, Williams explained.
“So many of our younger visitors have never been to I-House, assuming it was not open to them,” he said. “Many people assume it’s a frat house or that it’s associated with the university, but it’s not. There’s a membership and they depend on funding, which is in constant jeopardy.”
International House is entering its 31st year in Davis.
“It’s here to help give foreign students and international visitors a taste of what it’s like to live in Davis,” Williams explained. “There are foreign language classes and a foreign movie once a month. It’s a real United Nations.”
The main focus of the series is cross-cultural entertainment.
“You come on any Sunday and you never know what the flavor of the night will be,” Williams said. “We’ve had several Iranian drummers, Rumi poetry, Brazilian samba and bossa nova, and soon we’ll have reggae and rock.
“We had a Japanese-themed evening, with Japanese food and music. We have a featured artist come every week to display their work. We’re mixing it up. It’s right here in town, you don’t have to go far to find it.”
The series is open to all ages, with soft drinks, coffee and tea. It’s very family-friendly.
“We’ve had families come and have their kids perform,” Williams said. “It’s great and the kids love it. It’s very much something for everyone.”
Not only are the performances entertaining, they’re educational as well.
“When Bill is the emcee, he’ll often ask the performer to tell the audience about the instruments, or give the story behind the song,” Williams said. “The performers take us on a trip around the world.
“We shifted the space into a whole new look. We have subdued lighting for a more coffee house feel. It’s a Sunday night and we want it to be more subdued. Its makes it a theater-like space; a space in the dark to enjoy everything. It’s very laid-back.”
So far, the series has been a success.
“The premiere had 150 people, and every week since has been around 60 and 75,” Williams said.
Will the series extend into the future?
“We’re dovetailing into Whole Earth Festival (and) Memorial Day,” he replied. “I don’t know if we’re going through summer or not.
“If we’re burned out, we’ll take a hiatus, if not, we’ll keep going!”
For more information, call I-House at (530) 753-5007 or visit www.internationalhousedavis.org.
— Reach Landon Christensen at firstname.lastname@example.org