Posts Tagged ‘festival’

Artists set to perform at SXSW denied entry into US

Posted on March 15th, 2017 in Recent posts by .




Several artists have been denied entry into the US ahead of the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) taking place March 10-19 in Austin, Texas. Italian group Soviet Soviet, London-based United Vibrations, Canadian/Egyptian Massive Scar Era and Danish producer ELOQ are among acts to have announced their travel rejection.

SXSW is a broad and diverse festival, covering film, comedy and music in a range of venues across Austin. In 2016 the festival welcomed more than 2,200 performers, representing more than 67 countries. While visa complications for travelling musicians are not uncommon, in light of recent comments made and orders put forward by President Trump in particular, the nature of these complications are being increasingly questioned.

Trump’s first Executive Order, though blocked by federal judges, denied visitors from seven African and Middle Eastern countries entry to the US. His second revised attempt, set to be implemented on March 16, has removed Iraq from the list of banned nations and exempts current visa-holders, yet still refuses entry to visitors from six Muslim-majority countries. Soviet Soviet, Massive Scar, ELOQ and United Vibrations have all spoken publicly about their experiences of attempting to travel to Austin for SXSW.

“We arrived in Seattle on the afternoon of March 8,” write Soviet Soviet in a joint public statement. “We made our way to passport control with our ESTA, a letter from our American label… and a written invitation on the part of SXSW in hand.” The group go on to describe how each member was questioned for almost four hours. Despite informing the authorities that they would not be receiving any payment for their performance, nor that they had any intention of staying in the US, they were told they would be denied entry to the country and deported back to Italy. “We accepted this decision as it seemed final at that point. They took our digital fingerprints and took mugshots of us for their file. They confiscated our cell phones and we were denied the possibility of contacting our families and loved ones. Around 10.30pm, two prison officers frisked us, handcuffed us and brought us to jail in a police car. We spent the night in jail and had been escorted there as though we were three criminals.” Read the full statement here

Similarly, ELOQ took to Twitter to inform fans about his experience. He said he would not be playing at SXSW but returning to Denmark, “even though I was informed by SXSW I had the right visa.” He also wrote that he had “been handcuffed and detained in a small very bright room plus a very unpleasant jail cell for 23 hours.” London-based quartet United Vibrations took to social media to question why they had not been let in to the US, asking whether it was down to their “names,” their “music” or “the colour of [their] skin.” Fellow London-based musician Yussef Khamaal, also denied entry, apologised to all those coming out to see him perform.

Heavy metal band Massive Scar Era shared a similar experience, posting a video to social media along with a statement which claims that despite having provided the necessary paperwork and official SXSW visa waiver, and communicating with the festival, the group were denied entry. The band questioned whether one member’s Egyptian passport may have been the issue, as the “bassist is First Nation.” His card was refused however, and was told “he needs to get a DNA test.”

SXSW themselves have come under fire for a contract clause which threatens immigration authority involvement for behaviour adverse to the festival’s interests (Told Slant withdrew their performance for this reason). SXSW have said there are no “deportation clauses” in their current agreements, nor will there be in the future, and have publicly denounced Trump’s travel ban

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First acts announced for WOMAD Charlton Park 2017

Posted on February 23rd, 2017 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bombino and Emir Kusturica are among the first acts announced for this year’s WOMAD Charlton Park Festival from July 27-30

The first wave of names have been announced for this year’s WOMAD at Charlton Park. Recognised as one of the greatest world music events, the festival returns to its regular setting at the Wiltshire site this summer.

The hugely popular household name that is Ladysmith Black Mambazo will take to the stage this year, alongside politically-minded Benjamin Zephaniah with his new musical project, Revolutionary Minds. Emir Kusturica is also sure to lead a lively set of Eastern European folk and Gypsy music, with help from The No Smoking Orchestra.

Maarja Nuut, the Estonian vocalist and fiddler, will also make an appearance, as will Alsarah & The Nubatones, whose track ‘Ya Watan’ featured as a Songlines Top of the World in #123.

Other confirmed acts so far include: 

Shobaleader One (UK)

Bokanté (USA/Guadeloupe)

Bombino (Niger)

Chico Trujillo (Chile)

Grupo Canalón de Timbiquí (Colombia)

Jamie Smith’s Mabon (UK)

Khmer Rouge Survivors (Cambodia)

Maarja Nuut (Estonia)

The Nile Project (Egypt/Ethiopia and more)

Nomade Orquestra (Brazil)

Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar)

Savina Yannatou (Greece)

Spooky Men’s Chorale (Australia)

Tom Middleton (UK)

Zhou Family Band (China)


For tickets and more information, visit


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Live Review | Gentse Feesten – A Belgian street carnival

Posted on August 17th, 2016 in Live, Recent posts, Reviews by .

Gentse Feesten 2016

Martin Longley enjoys Gentse Feesten in Gent, Belgium, July 17 & 18 2016

Even though, technically, the first Gentse Feesten was in 1843, its modern-day incarnation began in 1969, revolving around the Trefpunt folk café and local singer-guitarist Walter De Buck. From those modest beginnings, it’s now grown into one of Europe’s largest street festivals, requiring massive stamina over the course of its ten days of art, drinking, dancing and eating.

There are festivals within festivals, with three major music streams, nearly all with free admission. Trefpunt itself erects a stage on the street outside its premises, Missy Sippy holds a blues feast and Polé Polé takes over the prominent central position with a looming riverside stage. This well-entrenched organisation acts as a core draw for the hordes, concentrating mostly on Afro-Latin sounds. Grupo Fantasma (pictured below), from Austin, Texas, headlined on the fourth day, with three power-horns, one of them a hulking baritone saxophone, a set of timbales out front, drums, bass, guitar, guiro and multiple vocals. Their psychedelic cumbia quotes from Brazilian samba and US cop show themes, edging into NY salsa. Their version of the Talking Heads hit ‘Burning Down tthe House’ topped the set with the ultimate funk blow-out, heavily shunted into a Latin incarnation.

Grupo Fantasma

At the Missy Sippy club, a combo called simply Bash were in the midst of what was virtually a jam session, with two banjos, bass, guitar, two fiddles, embarking on the high-speed hoedown of ‘8 Dogs, 8 Banjos’. These locals did a fine Appalachian impersonation, with an incongruous washboard to boot, singing ‘Parchman Farm’ with harmonica circle dancing, then ‘Orange Blossom Special’ as an encore. It caught the midnight hour of drunken celebration perfectly.

At the heart of it all, the Trefpunt stage presented two African bands, back to back. Guitarist Dizzy Mandjeku, who played with Franco, led his Odemba OK Jazz All-Stars, recreating that spangled vibe. He sat to the rear of doubled trumpets and tenor saxophones, three singers, bass and skipping drums.

Mandjeku provided a time-jump back to those classic 1970s Congolese stylings, with a glorious guitar lattice, climaxing with a spirited version of Angélique Kidjo’s ‘Afrika’. Another guitarist, Oghene Kologbo, a Fela Kuti sideman, fronted his World Squad. They pumped out ‘International Thief Thief’, with further baritone saxophone action, two dancer/singers, and the leader sending out a series of extreme solo stings, climaxing this overloaded double bill, late into the firework-dripping night.

Read more live reviews in the next issue, out August 26

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Cambridge Folk Festival starts today!

Posted on July 30th, 2015 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


The annual celebration of all things folk (plus plenty more besides) kicks off tonight with yet another impressive line-up to look forward to

The big-name crowd-pullers are undoubtedly the two Joans – that’s Joan Baez (on Saturday) and Joan Armatrading (on Sunday), plus Frank Turner (on Friday). But there are plenty of other acts to get excited about – some well-known on the folk circuit, others less so. Here’s my pick of ones worth checking out.

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino – Friday
The group from Salento have been delighting audiences for over 40 years with their infectious pizzica music from southern Italy.

De Temps Antan – Friday, Saturday & Sunday
French-Canadian folk music always goes down a storm at Cambridge and this year it’s the turn of the Québécois trio who will be bringing their joie de vivre to Cherry Hinton Hall.

Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – Thursday & Friday
The winning combination of Ben’s exquisite guitar playing together with Josienne’s beautifully melancholic vocals is bound to attract a crowd.

Sorren Maclean – Sunday (pictured top)
The young singer-songwriter and guitarist from the island of Mull has been touring with Roddy Woomble and was a big hit at this year’s Celtic Connections festival. He’ll be showcasing tracks from his new album, Winter Stay Autumn.

Jaron Freeman-Fox – Sunday
This fantastic Canadian violinist has performed and collaborated with an intriguing mixture of musicians, ranging from British song collector Sam Lee, Rajasthani Gypsy musicians and Inuk throat singer (and recent Songlines cover star) Tanya Tagaq. Jaron’s band are appropriately called The Opposite of Everything – expect the unexpected!

The festival is now sold out. However if you didn’t manage to get a ticket, fear not, BBC Radio 2 will be broadcasting live from the Festival from 3-6pm on Saturday. Sky Arts will also be broadcasting highlights for a future transmission.


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