Posts Tagged ‘womad’

WOMAD Charlton Park 2017: Sunday

Posted on August 1st, 2017 in News, Recent posts by .

WOMAD Roy Ayers

Roy Ayers; Photography by Tom Askew-Miller

African stars old and new delight the Charlton Park crowds on the final day

Those who braved the lakes of treacle-like mud, wind, rain and eventually sun were treated to a glorious day of music on Sunday at WOMAD, featuring many newcomers plus a handful of legendary acts such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Roy Ayers and Bonga.

The day began at the Charlie Gillett stage with the BBC Radio 3 and 6Music simulcast broadcast. Presenters Lopa Kothari and Cerys Matthews were the as ever glamorous and entertaining hosts, whose guests included the Mexican chicano group Las Cafeteras from Los Angeles; Msafiri Zawose from Tanzania and the Ska Vengers from India.

The first act on the Open Air stage was Mamadou Diabaté from Burkina Faso and his troupe of balafon (wooden xylophone) players. Perhaps it was their thunderous percussive sound that briefly kept the showers at bay and meant they attracted a big crowd. They were certainly one of several acts from Africa who really shone out.

 

Mamadou Diabate WOMAD

Mamadou Diabaté in Percussion Mania

On the same stage later that afternoon came Bonga, the resplendent singer from Angola. Now in his 70s, Bonga has recently released his 30th album, yet he’s still a striking figure onstage, with a deeply powerful and soulful voice. The light, semba dance rhythms of his music belie the fact that many of these songs are ones of resistance – in the early 70s his music was banned by the Salazar dictatorship in Angola.

Following on from one veteran’s performance, it was the turn of a new star in the making, Msafiri Zawose who had earlier charmed the crowd during the simulcast. His own solo set was an excellent showcase of this young musician who is keeping the Zawose family musical legacy of gogo music alive. He’s the fifth child of the late Hukwe Zawose and plays the zeze, a two-stringed bowed instrument that resembles the ritti, and the ilimba, a type of thumb piano. His new album, Uhamiaji, comes out at the beginning of September on the Soundway label – look out for more about him in a forthcoming edition of Songlines.

WOMAD Ladysmith Black

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

British folk star Eliza Carthy and her Wayward band put on one of the standout performances of the weekend. Comparisons with Bellowhead are inevitable but Carthy’s 12-piece band proved they are worthy successors of English folk’s finest big band crown. Always a hugely entertaining performer, Carthy is clearly relishing playing with this new outfit who have a punk-like attitude to the folk tradition. Their set included songs from their debut album Big Machine and rapper Dizraeli who joined them onstage for the song ‘You Know Me,’ Carthy’s response to the refugee crisis. Thankfully the torrential downpour at the start of their set was short-lived – “dance between the raindrops!” urged Carthy – and by the time they had finished, the delighted crowd and jubilant band were basking in sunshine. Even a rainbow made a brief appearance as the sun set on a veritably muddy yet enjoyable 35th edition.

 

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WOMAD Charlton Park 2017: Saturday

Posted on July 30th, 2017 in Live, Recent posts by .

Seu Jorge WOMAD

Photography by Tom Askew-Miller

The Saturday at WOMAD might have been a bit damp, but Seu Jorge and Toko Tolo brought a bit of musical sunshine to the fields

The name of Toko Tolo from Madagascar means ‘Group of Three’. But sadly there were just two on stage at the BBC Charlie Gillett Stage on Saturday afternoon as accordionist Regis Gizavo died just two weeks ago, aged just 58. The remaining members, guitarist D’Gary, who plays with a quirky finger-picking style, and singer Monika Njava are both top artists in their own right. We think of Madagascar as Africa, but the stripped-down sound underlined its Indian Ocean qualities and its links to the east. Hearing their music, it’s no surprise to learn that the word for canoe is the same in Malagasy as Maori. Their performance was bold and ebullient, but it’s no insult to them to say Regis Gizavo’s absence was felt. His funeral was also on Saturday in Madagascar.

Toko Telo

Ifriqiyya Electrique in the Big Red Tent solved in a powerful and innovative way the problem of putting ritual on stage. In this case it was the possession and trance ceremonies of the Banga in the south of Tunisia. Like the Gnawa in Morocco, this community of black African origin use trance as a healing force and guitarist François Cambuzat and bassist Gianna Greco spent months filming the rituals and perform on stage along with that film and three Banga musicians on drums and metal castanets. With Cambuzat’s punk sensibilities, sometimes it’s pure noise, but to powerful effect. You see flailing arms, contorting bodies, heads swaying back and forth; you hear spiritual songs, follow processions, catch a goat sacrifice and feel almost like you’ve witnessed these ceremonies for yourself. Talking to people in the audience afterwards, they were deeply moved by what they’d experienced. The music isn’t easy, the rituals are sometimes disturbing, but Ifriqiyya Electrique have a clear vision and integrity in what they’re doing.

I wish the same could be said for Lamomali, which features French rocker Matthieu Chedid with some stellar Malian musicians including vocalist Fatoumata Diawara and Toumani and Sidiki Diabate on koras. Chedid, better known in France as -M-, has a strikingly high voice thatsometimes blends rather effectively with the ten-strong group on stage, except he spends most of the time upstaging them with grungy electric guitar riffs and what look like triangular aluminium spectacles. While he jumps and prowls, attracting attention to himself, his musical contributions transform Malian gold into bland Europop. Quite an achievement. It’s been very successful in France and almost justifies Brexit.

Much more tasteful was Seu Jorge’s The Life Aquatic tribute to Bowie. The Siam tent was packed, because Bowie, who died in January last year, is a national hero, but also because it was the best place to get out of the heavy rain. Sitting alone on stage with his guitar, surrounded by Aquatic paraphernalia, he launched into ‘O Astronauta de Marmore’. Occasionally he would stop singing and the audience would take over: ‘There’s a starman waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet us, But he thinks he’d blow our minds.’ Seu Jorge’s sweet voice made Bowie sound very Brazilian and the meeting of cultures – Bowie as a bridge between Britain and Brazil – unlike Lamomali, was very touching.

Raquel Tavares WOMAD

The evening ended with Portuguese fado singer Raquel Tavares. She’d performed the Songlines Fado Series on Friday night in London and reminded us that people fear coming to the UK because of terrorist attacks. Although she’s directly from the fado tradition, she wasn’t dressed in the customary black dress, but a One Love Manchester sweat shirt and leather trousers. She’s got a strong, deep voice and a playful manner on stage. After a set of fados, she ended with fado-like ‘Back to Black’ by Amy Winehouse proving, like Seu Jorge, that British pop is also world music.

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WOMAD Charlton Park 2017: Friday

Posted on July 29th, 2017 in Live, Recent posts by .

Oumou Sangare-7

Photography by Tom Askew-Miller

Oumou Sangaré, Alsarah & the Nubatones and the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians get the party going on Friday at WOMAD Charlton Park

Saturday morning at Charlton Park, head slightly fuzzy after Friday night’s shenanigans but at least the clothes have just about dried out after the evening’s downpour. However it takes more than a bit of wet weather to dampen WOMAD festival-goers’ spirit.

Friday kicked off with members of the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians on the Open Air Stage then there was some raucous klezmer from London-based band Don Kipper – the first act on the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett stage. Two recent Songlines coverstars were among the highlights of the day – Mali’s Oumou Sangaré on the Open Air Stage and Alsarah with her band the Nubatones over in the arboretum, on the Ecotricity stage. But the joy of the ever eclectic WOMAD programme is there are always random new discoveries to be made as you wander around the site.

Two acts that left a notable impression yet were completely unknown to me were The New York Theremin Society on the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System stage and the wonderfully weird but slightly bonkers Goat from Sweden in the Siam tent who definitely get the prize for best costumes and masks. And Orkesta Mendoza’s Salvador Duran wins the award for the most flamboyant maracas playing I’ve seen in a long time! The most touching moment of the day came when a longtime Songlines subscriber came to the stand, mentioned in passing to the team that the only back issue he was missing from his collection was the first issue whereby the always eager to please publisher made a quick dash to his secret stash and then presented the loyal subscriber with a pristine copy of the very same issue from 1999 – now a collector’s item. The Songlines team always aims to please!

Saturday’s weather forecast is not looking too good but at least there’s plenty of cracking music lined up. Things on the list to check out today are Colombia’s Grupo Canalón de Timbiquí, the Indian singer Parvathy Baul who is bound to entrance the crowd and festival faves and Songlines Music Award winners Afro Celt Sound System. It looks set to be another corker of a day!

 

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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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