WOMAD Turns 30: a WOMAD 2012 preview
Get ready for a celebration in Charlton Park...
Chris Eustace - 25 July 2012
WOMAD? Wossat stand for?
World Of Music, Arts and Dance festival. Launched in 1982, with Peter Gabriel one of its founders, it’s kept to its original aim, to help “different audiences to gain an insight into cultures other than their own through the enjoyment of music” with eclectic, diverse line-ups over 160 festivals in 27 different countries, with everyone from Gabriel himself to Crowded House to Youssou N’Dour to Nina Simone turning up.
Where’s it all happening?
WOMAD 2012 takes place at Charlton Park, near Malmesbury in Wiltshire, on 27-29 July.
I hear it’s celebrating a bit of a milestone this year?
Yep, it’s the festival’s 30th anniversary this year, and as always, beyond the music, there’ll be workshops for both adults and children, with “cultural exchange, active participation, collaboration and musical exploration” the name of the game. There’s also Taste The World, where artists will cook their favourite dishes, and the Human Library, where you can loan “Human books”, or even become one yourself, to meet new people and find out about different backgrounds and cultures, among loads of other things to do and see.
If that’s ‘beyond the music’, what about, er, inside the music?
Buena Vista Social Club, Portico Quartet, Jamie Catto, Revere, Damien Dempsey, Gurrumul, Toddla T & Serocee, DJ Yoda and the Trans-Siberian March Band, Ane Brun, Ben l'Oncle Soul, Keb' Mo' and Terem Quartet are just some of the acts on the bill for this year.
Wow, there’s loads on! Who do you recommend I see?
Take our advice and don’t miss this lot:
You’ll never believe that anti-apartheid hero Hugh Masekela in his seventies, such is the energy onstage when he plays, leading his band through the jazz/hi-life/soul sound that influenced generations of musicians – without him there’d be no ‘Graceland’ or Vampire Weekend, that’s for sure. Whether playing the flugelhorn or singing, you can’t take your eyes off him, so don’t pass up the chance to see a true icon of South Africa’s rich musical heritage.
The reggae legend has been in the spotlight for nearly 50 years, and shows no signs of stopping. In fact, new album ‘Rebirth’ is just that - he’s reinvigorated and ambitious, working with Rancid’s Tim Armstrong on the likes of the soaring ‘One More’. Expect plenty of these fiery new songs to figure alongside classics like ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ and ‘Many Rivers To Cross’.
This Huw Stephens-approved psych-pop outfit come from all manner of exotic locations, but have made London their base, and the capital should be only too glad to host their quirky danceable melodies. They’ve been likened to Arcade Fire, Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend, but could veer away drom those comparisons in the blink of an eye. Now that (fingers crossed) the weather’s sorted itself out, they’ll be a pretty top-notch soundtrack to the sunshine.
Femi Kuti & The Positive Force
The son of late afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, Femi doesn’t allow his dad’s achievements to weigh heavy on his own music. Instead, he celebrates what some call “The Family Business”, but takes care to twist and turn the Afrobeat sound to bring it bang up-to-date. With relentless backing from his band, Femi has a charismatic stage presence all of his own.
Robert Plant presents Sensational Space Shifters
The Led Zeppelin legend’s latest venture is "inspired by the roots music of Mississippi, Appalachia, Gambia, Bristol and the foothills of Wolverhampton and drawing on influences collected in a lifetime of meander and journeying." Set to combine blues, world, gospel and soul, there will have been few live performances before this one, and with no material yet officially online (Good ol' Youtube), it may be that, at WOMAD, not many people other than Plant and his bandmates, who include longtime collaborator Justin Adams and American singer Patty Griffin, will know quite how it sounds before showtime.
Sold! So how do I get tickets?
WOMAD tickets are onsale now, with an Adult Weekend Ticket priced at £135 with a Teenager (14-17 Year Olds) Weekend Ticket costing £70.
Click here to buy WOMAD tickets.