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WOMAD Charlton Park 2017: Thursday

Posted on July 28th, 2017 in Live, Recent posts by .

Orchestra Baobab WOMAD

Photography by Tom Askew-Miller

After months of feverish excitement and anticipation, the 35th edition of WOMAD is off to a great start with Bixiga 70 and Orchestra Baobab

Kicking off proceedings in usual WOMAD tradition were the Malmesbury School Project – a group of local students who were joined by Sheelanagig on the Open Air Stage.

Following this, it was a quick dash over to the Big Red Tent to catch São Paulo big band Bixiga 70 who put on a terrific show. Their high-energy, big, bold brass sound went down a storm with the enthusiastic crowd clearly eager to get into festival party mode. It didn’t take long before they were doing a Brazilian style conga around the packed tent. Bixiga’s funky, highly danceable version of Afrobeat has a very particular Brazilian flavour to it, augmented by a superb duo of percussionists who almost stole the show with a blistering solo. The ten-piece band graciously gave fellow Brazilian group Metá Metá a plug – they’ll be performing later on today in the Big Red Tent.

An altogether more laid-back but charming performance from the Senegalese veterans Orchestra Baobab – the ideal mellow Thursday night closer.

Orchestra Baobab WOMAD

Things crank up considerably on Friday with a ridiculously full-on programme. Top of the list to check out are this month’s Songlines coverstar, Alsarah, who will be performing with her band the Nubatones on the Ecotricity stage. Unfortunately roots reggae group Inna de Yard were unable to secure visas in time for their performance on Friday, but their spot will be deftly filled by the ever-excellent Dele Sosimi.

Here’s hoping the weather behaves…

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Tanya Tagaq announces a new album out this autumn

Posted on August 18th, 2016 in News, Recent posts by .

Tanya Tagaq

The Inuk artist, Tanya Tagaq, the striking cover star of our June 2015 issue, has just announced a new album, Retribution 

Known for her jaw-dropping live performances and incredibly powerful throat singing, Tanya Tagaq won the Polaris Prize (Canadian equivalent to the Mercury Prize) in 2014 for Animism – described as ‘experimental, visceral, intense and disturbing, this is essentially the definitive audio statement of contemporary nordicity in Canada,’ in our review in #115.

By all accounts, the follow-up to Animism will be even more powerful – a portrait of a violent world in crisis, with its focus, of course, on the Inuit perspective as Tagaq has become a committed spokesperson for the issues concerning the indigenous people of northern Canada.

Guests on the new album include Tuvan throat singer Radik Tyülyüsh, traditional Inuk singer Ruben Komangapik and Tagaq’s own daughter. Tracks include a cover of the Nirvana song ‘Rape Me’, which, according to Tagaq’s publicity, is one of the central themes of the album: ‘the rape of women, rape of the land, rape of children, despoiling of traditional lands without consent.’

Retribution is released on October 21 in North America and November 18 in Europe.



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The Aboriginal star Archie Roach makes his Scottish debut

Posted on August 11th, 2016 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


Australia’s Aboriginal singer Archie Roach visits the Famous Spiegeltent at Edinburgh Festival Fringe on August 16 & 17

Anyone familiar with Australia’s Aboriginal history will undoubtedly have come across the singer-songwriter and storyteller Archie Roach. Part of the ‘Stolen Generation’ – the Aboriginal children who were forcibly removed by Australian government agencies and put into orphanages and foster homes – Roach met his late partner Ruby Hunter on the streets. He released his debut album, Charcoal Lane, in 1990, which featured the song that was to put Roach in the global spotlight, ‘Took the Children Away’. A shameful part of Australia’s history memorably encapsulated in a heartbreaking song that won Roach a Human Rights Achievement Award and two ARIA awards.

Roach and Hunter formed a longstanding musical partnership that took them around the world until Hunter’s sudden death in 2010. Following the loss of his soulmate, Roach had a stroke and was diagnosed with lung cancer but made an incredible comeback in 2012 with Into the Bloodstream (reviewed in #89). He told Songlines’ contributor Jane Cornwell: ‘‘I felt like I’d sung enough about troubles, sorrow and pain and I needed to turn a corner… I wanted to say, ‘hang on a minute, it’s good to be alive’’’ (Beginner’s Guide #99).

This will be Roach’s first time in Scotland and one that will no doubt prove an emotional one as after a series of traumatic foster home experiences, Roach ended up being looked after by a Glaswegian. These two live dates at the Famous Spiegeltent will provide a rare opportunity to hear material from his forthcoming album Let Love Rule (released on September 23) and experience this incredibly talented Aboriginal legend in concert.

Listen to Archie Roach singing ‘Took the Children Away’ on YouTube.

For more information and tickets, visit:

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Live review – Ilu Obá De Min, Barra Funda, São Paulo

Posted on March 30th, 2016 in Live, Recent posts, Reviews by .


Peter Culshaw has a full-on carnival experience in São Paulo, courtesy of the all-female drumming ensemble, Ilu Obá De Min

There’s the sexy glamour of the Rio carnival, the more funky Salvador de Bahia one, and others like the older style frevo version in the colonial town of Olinda. Less well-known, though, is the carnival in the biggest, most futuristic city in South America – São Paulo. While they also have their glitzy floats in their Sambódrome, which only opened in 1991, as a cheaper version of Rio’s, the real action is the more ragged neighbourhood bloco parties in the streets.The most impressive one I found was the Ilu Obá De Min, a women-only dance and drumming group, which specialises in African traditions.


In downtown Barra Funda, around 200 women drummers in distinctive red and white striped dresses gathered (the only men being some characters on stilts, dressed as the Afro-Brazilian orishas or deities).  Even the random warming-up was a tidal wave of sound, but once all 200 women hit their stride in sync with some funky samba beats, it was a brilliant, at times alarming, mix of an apocalyptic and joyful racket.

Like a turbo-charged version of the Burundi drummers. I missed them earlier in the week singing with Elza Soares, a wonderful samba-soul singer once married to the legendary footballer Garrincha.  She may be one of the few singers powerful enough to rise above the percussive thunder. If you are in town, do join the bloco for rehearsals. They also run courses in various types of Afro-Brazilian dance and music.

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