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WOMAD 2017

Juli 27, 2017 @ 12:00 am - Juli 30, 2017 @ 11:30 pm

The world’s festival WOMAD is back for its thirty-fifth year as a vibrant, joyful and timely reminder that in a world where division and isolation are increasingly prominent, music can still bring people together from all around the globe.

As well as musicians from every imaginable background WOMAD will play host to its usual dizzying mix of art, dance, food, wellbeing, discussion and family activities, all taking place in the spirit of fun, diversity and originality that has made it an institution among summer festivals.

To kick things off we can reveal the first names of those appearing at this year’s gathering at Charlton Park near Malmesbury in Wiltshire between 27-30 July.

Ever since they appeared on Paul Simon’s Graceland album more than three decades ago, Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been a household name right across the globe, thanks in no small part to their near-constant touring schedule: “we are the travelling musical academy for South African culture,” they proudly boast. And their trademark sound – that weightless, dignified choral singing – still sounds as stirring today as it did when they formed in the mid-60s.

There’s plenty going on in 2017’s chaotic world for Benjamin Zephaniah to take his pen to. And he’s back to voicing his discontent through the medium of music, with the heavily honoured poet striking up the band again for his latest musical project – Revolutionary Minds. Expect Benjamin’s ever-sharp literary barbs to take aim at a planet caving in on itself.

Like Benjamin, Emir Kusturica is something of a polymath, a man with the confidence and talent to turn his hand to many things, whether it’s film-making, acting, writing or music. When he puts on his musical hat, the Serbian is found in the company of The No Smoking Orchestra, his ragged band of musical miscreants who deliver a wild, iconoclastic (and sweat-soaked) take on East European gypsy and folk traditions.

Shobaleader One is the side project of Squarepusher, a live band that also features the equally mysterious monikered Strobe Nazard, Company Laser and Arg Nution. They specialise in full-band revisits of Squarepusher classics from over the years, adding a vital, visceral dimension to tunes already held dear by the great man’s acolytes.

But the essence of WOMAD doesn’t simply rest with its better-known performers. There’s as much joy to be found stumbling over artists who you’ve not encountered before. And this year, as much as any other, there are plenty of new discoveries to make, right through the musical alphabet, from Australia to Zanzibar. They include…

Alsarah & the Nubatones (Sudan/USA)
Alsarah, a Sudanese refugee now adding more depth and definition to American culture, has been described by The Guardian as “the new star of Nubian pop”. With her effortlessly slinky collection of songs, we’re inclined to agree.

Bokanté (USA/Guadeloupe)
With members of jazz-funk collective Snarky Puppy at its heart, Bokanté are fronted by Guadeloupe-born singer Malika Tirolien and her goosebump-inducing voice. This is jazz-soul-rock dipped in rich and satisfying Creole flavours.

Bombino (Niger)
Of all the practitioners of Saharan blues, Bombino (aka Omara Moctar) is undeniably the one who rocks out the most. While his sound is deeply rooted in his Tuareg heritage, he clearly counts Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page among his guitar heroes.

Chico Trujillo (Chile)
Boisterous, cobweb-banishing outfit who supercharge the sound of cumbia with the twin fuels of ska and rock. Strongly recommended to fans of Mano Chao and former WOMAD favourites Los de Abajo.

Grupo Canalón de Timbiquí (Colombia)
Rootsy rhythms from this multi-membered outfit with an excellent line in Afro-Colombian folk sounds from the country’s Pacific coast.

Jamie Smith’s Mabon (UK)
Young but high-pedigree folk outfit led by fearsome accordionist Jamie Smith. Live, they’re a dizzying, dazzling celebration of this sceptred isle’s various Celtic corners.

Khmer Rouge Survivors (Cambodia)
The latest project of producer Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, Malawi Mouse Boys, Hanoi Masters), the Khmer Rouge Survivors are a collection of Cambodian musical elders who play, in the words of The Observer, “slow, eerie, south-east Asian blues”.

Maarja Nuut (Estonia)
Haunting music from northern Europe. Maarja is both a vocalist and fiddler, two disciplines she handles with immaculate care and precision. And, somewhat bizarrely, she counts Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon among her fans!

The Nile Project (Egypt/Ethiopia and more)
Evocative sounds from this collective drawn from several countries through which the Nile runs. The great river is the source of both their social commitment and their musical inspiration.

Nomade Orquestra (Brazil)
Heavy on the horns, this Gilles Peterson-endorsed ten-piece outfit from Sao Paulo lay down fluid jazz-funk that appeals to both the brain and the body.

Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar)
This East African band focus in on taarab music, the sound of their island homeland that’s a timeless and beguiling mix of Arabic and European traditions.

Savina Yannatou (Greece)
This wonderfully eloquent singer seamlessly merges traditional songs from the Mediterranean and Balkans with a tasteful, avant-garde sensibility that’s seen her record countless albums for the mighty contemporary classical/jazz label ECM.

Spooky Men’s Chorale (Australia)
Light relief – and a collection of exotic headware – comes from this tongue-firmly-implanted-in-cheek male voice choir from (New South) Wales. One particular highlight is their “Swedish folk song” – aka Abba’s Dancing Queen.

Tom Middleton (UK)
DJ, producer and remixer (for the likes of Orbital, Leftfield, Goldfrapp and Gotan Project among legions of others) and who promises “a funk-filled, emotive and soulful mix of futuristic bass, deep house, techno, electro boogie and garage”.

Zhou Family Band (China)
Irrepressible ensemble playing the music that accompanies births and deaths in central-eastern China. There’s oodles of energy in their performances, making them kindred spirits with many East European gypsy bands.

This inimitable range of sounds is just the first installment, with more artists and features to be announced over the coming months.

WOMAD’s Global Festival Director Chris Smith said: “This is the perfect collection of artists to kick off WOMAD 2017. Some new faces and some old friends returning after a long absence, all of whom I’m certain will demonstrate the extent to which WOMAD still, after thirty-five years, has the power to surprise people and give them a musical experience they’ve never had before.

“As well as providing a festival experience like no other, we increasingly, in the age of Brexit and Donald Trump, feel responsibility to champion those who are willing to share their culture with others, celebrate variety and build bridges not walls”
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Further acts announced for WOMAD Charlton Park including Oumou Sangare, Goat, Eliza Carthy and Orchestra Baobab.

West Africa’s funkiest female singer, Britain’s most vibrant new folk act and the world’s coolest band of psychedelic mysterions are among the eclectic headliners in the second batch of names announced for WOMAD 2017 to be held at Charlton Park near Malmesbury in Wiltshire between 27-30 July.

Back for its thirty-fifth year, the global gathering that is WOMAD acts as a timely reminder that in troubled and uncertain moments, music has a unique power to bring people together by celebrating the world in all its creative, diverse and multicultural complexity.

And the bill for this year’s WOMAD festival is as diverse as ever with more than 40 acts now announced for the four day summit of music, art, dance, food, wellbeing, discussion and family adventures, which has made WOMAD a brand leader among summer festivals.

Stylish, feisty and charismatic, Mali’s Oumou Sangaré is not only one of the most powerful female voices in world music but a striking role model who has used her music to campaign fearlessly to improve the position of women across Africa. Since her first album announced the arrival as a rising new star of African music more than a quarter of a century ago, she’s sold out concert tours around the globe to become an international phenomenon. Her latest album has been hailed as the funkiest of her career – and she is an irresistible force of nature on stage, as her recent appearance at WOMAD’s Australian offshoot WOMADELAIDE proved.

The mysterious masked men who create an intoxicatingly psychedelic mix of rock, Afrobeat, funk, chants and tribal drums under the name Goat sprang from nowhere in 2012 to take the musical world by storm with an album aptly titled World Music. Since then they’ve released a second equally monumental album, but we’ve found out surprisingly little about them other than that they come from Sweden and prefer to let their music do the talking. Their determination to remain anonymous, of course, has only enhanced their enigmatic status as one of the hippest names to drop in both rock and world music circles.

The ebullient folk singer and fiddler Eliza Carthy continues on her mission to take British traditional song to places it has never been before with her latest project, The Wayward Band, featuring a ‘who’s-who’ of names in the folk world and whose live shows are exhilarating adventures in keeping traditional music vibrant and contemporary.

The opening Thursday night of the festival finds Senegal’s veteran dance band Orchestra Baobab taking the stage along with Brazilian Afrobeat band Bigixa 70 and the Malmesbury School Project, whose annual performance has become a much-loved WOMAD tradition and this year will perform with the Bristol-based global-folk outfit Sheelanagig.

Among those making their first-ever appearances in the UK are Tanzania Albinism Collective, a group put together by Grammy award winning producer Ian Brennan from members of the ostracised albino community who have been forced to live on one of the most isolated places on earth in Ukerewe Island in Northern Tanzania to escape persecution, and Las Cafeteras, a thrilling Chicano band from the US who mix styles from both sides of the border with Mexico and state, “The President says he wants to build a wall. Las Cafeteras want to build bridges”. Also from the US-Mexican borderlands with a similar message come Orkestra Mendoza.

Other WOMAD newcomers include the wild Brazilian fusions of Mèta Mèta, a solo project led by Bill Laurence, pianist with the acclaimed Grammy award winning jazz mavericks Snarky Puppy, and the Italian folk band Officina Zoè.

Bonga, the veteran 74 year old voice of Angolan music, Kakatsitsi, The !Gubi Family & Bwiti from Namibia’s Kalahari Desert and the London-based Beating Heart collective with their inventive remixes of field recordings complete an eclectic African contingent, while the diversity of Indian music is represented by Ska Vengers from New Delhi and the explosive Bhangra sounds of the UK-based King Gurcharan Mall & the Dhol Blasters.

Jamaica’s Inna de Yard keep the righteous spirit of roots reggae burning, the Japanese drums of Taiko Meantime promise rhythmic peals of thunder (but hopefully no rain), while Kuenta i Tambu reimagine the roots styles of the Caribbean island of Curaçao for the digital age and Xáos lend an equally imaginative 21st century makeover to traditional Greek music.

Watch this space for more exciting announcements for WOMAD 2017, including brand new ways for festival-goers to chill out in style at the WOMAD Spa and a nature-tastic theme of Earth, Fire, Water and Air at this year’s World of Children, encouraging kids to get creative with everything from dance workshops to costume design to kids yoga. The buzzing hub of creativity that is World of Words is back and bigger than ever, brimming with poetry, talks, authors, debate and lots more to spark your imagination and The World of Art and Taste the World stage are also returning for 2017, giving festival-goers even more reason to head to the lush fields of Wiltshire this July.

Alsarah & the Nubatones (Sudan//USA) // Beating Heart (UK) // Benjamin Zephaniah and the Revolutionary Minds (UK) // Bill Laurence (UK) // Bixiga 70 (Brazil) //Bokanté (USA//Guadeloupe) Bombino (Niger) Bonga (Angola) Chico Trujillo (Chile) Eliza Carthy & the Wayward Band (UK) Emir Kusturica and The No Smoking Orchestra (Spain) Goat (Sweden) Grupo Canalón de Timbiquí (Colombia) Gubi! Family (Namibia) // Inna de Yard (Jamaica) // Jamie Smith’s Mabon (UK) // Khmer Rouge Survivors (Cambodia) // King Gurcharan Mall and the Dhol Blasters (India//UK) // Kuenta I Tambu (Netherlands) // Ladysmith Black Mambazo (South Africa) // Las Cafeteras (USA) // Maarja Nuut (Estonia) // Malmesbury School Project (UK) // Meta Meta (Brazil) // Nomade Orquestra (Brazil) // Officina Zoe (Italy) // Orchestre Baobab (Senegal)// Orkestra Mendoza (USA) // Oumou Sangare (Mali) // Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar)// Savina Yannatou (Greece) // Shobaleader One (UK) // Ska Vengers (India) // Spooky Men’s Chorale (Australia) // Taiko Meantime (UK) // Tanzania Albanism Society (Tanzania) // The Nile Project (Egypt//Ethiopia and more) // Tom Middleton (UK) // Xaos (Greece//UK) // Zhou Family Band (China)
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Juli 27, 2017 @ 12:00 am
Juli 30, 2017 @ 11:30 pm