Review: WOMAD 2019 – Day 1 | Songlines
Friday, July 26, 2019

Review: WOMAD 2019 – Day 1

Indian and Cuban brass – the leading factors in the opening night of ‘the world’s festival’


Juan de Marcos & the Afro Cuban All-Stars ©Tom Askew-Miller

There’s something reassuringly comforting about the opening concert of WOMAD featuring the Malmesbury Schools Project and their annual collaboration with a well-known band. This year it was the turn of the Bollywood Brass Band who did a wonderful set at the festival in 2018, together with Indian Karnatic violinist Jyotsna Srikanth.

As a steady flow of hot and sweaty festival-goers congregated in the main arena – on surely what must go down in history as the hottest day ever at WOMAD – the stage filled up with local school kids who had spent a busy week rehearsing with BBB, led by trumpeter Kay Charlton along with singer Unnati Dasgupta and the Sona Lisa Dance Company. A band guaranteed to get a party started, BBB’s sound is dominated by boisterous drumming and brass and their repertoire of Indian wedding tunes and Bollywood dancing were the perfect warm-up act.

Next up, slightly later than scheduled (no doubt due to the heat which seemed to cause delays everywhere), were Cuban veterans Juan de Marcos and his Afro-Cuban All-Stars. A key figure in the creation of the Buena Vista Social Club, de Marcos led the 13-strong band that included two of his daughters and his wife of 39 years. The Cubans certainly cut a dash in their dapper suits and de Marcos in his trademark beret which he nearly lost during some vigorous dance moves. They cooked up a proper salsa party vibe and the brief shower just before the end of their set certainly wasn’t going to dampen the spirits of the crowd who were clearly getting in the mood for three more days and nights of fabulous music.  

To keep up-to-date with everything going on at the festival, follow @SonglinesMag and @WOMADFestival on Twitter.


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