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"One of the most insurgent pieces of music you’ll ever hear, which re-examines Americana with devastating effect."

- NPR Music

Coming on the heels of his 2023 album release Empire Electric, No-No Boy, the media project of Ethnomusicologist and Smithsonian Folkways recording artist Julian Saporiti, is coming to Merced for an evening performance and midday workshop for aspiring storytellers, where Saporiti breaks down his process of deconstructing and reconstructing history into song. Called a “Master Storyteller” by All Music, Saporiti’s songwriting examines narratives of imperialism, identity, and spirituality. It tells stories rooted in years of research and relationship-building, made vibrant and profound through a rich congregation of instrumental, environmental, and electronically manipulated sounds from Asia and America. Every single sound, from the gracious swell of a pedal steel to the warbling pluck of a koto, becomes a part of the poetic recasting of shared post-colonial trauma and the startling joys that can be wrung out of that hardship. 

Storytelling has always been at the root of Julian Saporiti’s music as No-No Boy. The project developed as the central component of Saporiti’s PhD at Brown University, drawing on years of fieldwork and research on Asian American history to write folk songs with uncommon empathy and remarkable protagonists: prisoners at Japanese American internment camps who started a jazz band, Vietnamese musicians turned on to rock ‘n’ roll by American troops, a Cambodian American painter who painted only the most beautiful landscapes of his war-torn home. Along the way he started to draw on his own family’s history, including his mother’s escape from Vietnam during the war. His 2021 album 1975 was called "a remarkably powerful and moving album,” by Folk Alley and “gentle, catchy and accessible folk songs that feel instantly familiar," by NPR - a contrast that gets to the heart of Saporiti’s songwriting.  

WHEN: Saturday, April 27 at 7:00 pm with an 11am workshop for songwriters and media creators

WHERE: The MAC Black Box Theater | 645 W. Main Street, Merced

COST: FREE! Please reserve your spot at Eventbrite or


This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit

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