Blogging WOMAD: Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara; Orchestra National de Barbes; Sofrito Sound System; Dele Sosimi; Bibi Tanga; Salif Keita & Don Letts

Yeah, it was a busy evening.

Justin Adams and his Gambian counterpart Juldeh Camara played an amazing set in the large ‘Siam’ Tent, hugely bluesy but with a truly international feeling as Juldeh’s Riti playing took hold. Playing with the kind of bow that looks like it ought to shoot arrows, the ancient fiddle type instrument emitted sounds which were at once otherworldly, as well as deeply African.

A big clash for me was the Orchestra National de Barbes, with their joyous French African stylings, and the sonic assault of the Sofrito sound system crew, who kept dropping eclecticly selected international dance tracks, with the encouragement of the worlds most laid back MC. Judging by the rate they were getting through beer, they were probably all a bit laid back by the end of the set.

Publicists delight... WOMAD splash in the Sunday Times

Bibi Tanga & The Selenites played a set of mixed up funk and soul, with some hip hop sounds thrown in, a very cool sound owing quite a bit to some of the best acts of the last thirty years, but sounding deeply original too. Over at the Radio Three stage meanwhile, a hyperactive Dele Sosimi was demonstrating exactly why he had been an important part of the Afro Beat story back in the day. Based in London now, he plays his own brand of Afro Beat, which owes a lot to his formative years spent with Fela and then Femi Kuti.  A great sound, which was warmly received – speacially considering the fact that both bands were up against Imogen Heap and her all star guest line up.

For world music fans Salif Keita needs no introduction, he is now one of the key ‘elder statesmen’ of African music. Hailing from Mali he has racked up an impressive, even impeccable CV which has led him to world wide renown as a golden voiced singer with amazing vocal talents.

His spell binding set kept fans in rapt attentiveness and joyful abandon, while over on the other side of the arena site, another legend was hosting a punky reggae party – Don Letts was wacking out heavy heavy bass and rocking rhythms which kept the crowd on their feet and in party mood.

That wasnt all for the night, Cerys Matthews and a load of other acts kept the party going until the early hours, but that was enough for me – I was dead on my feet already. Lightweight – I know.


Blogging WOMAD: Saturday line-up

Following on from an amazing line up of artists on Friday night, there’s a whole lot of musical goodness to come today here at WOMAD.

Highlights are going to include: Dobet Gnahore, Angelique Kidjo, Dele Sosimi and his Afrobeat Orchestra, Salif Keita and the punky reggae party man himself – Don Letts.

But one of the delights of WOMAD is stumbling on something great which you hadnt previously expected, so I’ll be looking out for other acts, including the Toubab All Stars (white Frenchmen playing pan african music) and Rango, who play a form of ancient Trance which has the reputation of reaching right down to your bones.

Imogen Heap and Cerys Matthews also grace the stages today, as does the rapper Ty, the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain and the Geata Krar Collective. Should be an amazing day!

blogging WOMAD – friday is here

It’s friday, the rain has stopped, hopefully for good.

There are a load of exciting acts lined up here at WOMAD today, including the king of drummers, the one and only Tony Allen, who plays the main Siam Tent tonight at 8.15.

Tony was the drummer with Fela Kuti, and helped to pioneer the whole concept of Afrobeat, he has since gone on to be the go-to drummer for some of the biggest names in music.

These days he rattles his sticks with The Good The Bad and the Queen, Paul Simonon’s outfit, and we all know how much I love Paul Simonon.

Tony is on at the same time as Chumbawumba, who are bound to put on a great show. I’ll see if I can catch a bit of their act, if I’m not too enthralled by the rhythmic explosions of Mr Allen.

Also playing today are Nouvelle Vague, Ozomatli, Hanggai, Ska Cubano and many more. I’m basically spoiled for choice, in fact I think today is a very strong line up indeed.

One of the acts I’m particularly looking forward to is Zoo For You, a British act who were personally recomended by the late great Charlie Gillett. Apparently their sound is a fusion of Afrobeat, ska, funk, jazz and dub, with plenty of horns and according to Charlie: “both rhythmically original and lyrically distinctive.” Can’t be bad. They are the first act to appear on the newly christened Charlie Gillett stage, which will remain a lasting annual tribute to the great man.

There’s so much musical goodness on offer at WOMAD this year, I’m really impressed by the line up. Still to come over the weekend are the likes of Don Letts, Salif Keita, Angelique Kidjo, Imogen Heap, Ty, Cerys Matthews, Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara, Rolf Harris, Imelda May, Afro Celt Sound System, Gil Scott Heron and many many more.

WOMAD 2010

I’m particularly excited this year to be going to WOMAD at Charlton Park, in Wiltshire. There’s a really exciting and suitably exotic lineup of musicians and groups from all over the world, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Tony Allen perform, he’s definitely a musical hero of mine. Salif Keita is brilliant too, in fact there are lots of artists I’m really looking forward to hearing live – hopefully they wont all be playing at the same time…

There’s just tonnes of great music on offer, from Afro Beat to Gypsy Jazz, from the Ukelele orchestra, to Imogen Heap – even Rolf Harris is showing up with his band, as are a number of well known groups like the Afro Celts, Chumbawumba and Ska Cubano.

I’m certain that the greatest delights will be found by accident, which is one of the reasons I’m really looking forward to being there, accidentally discovered music is always a treat.

If you’re free between the 23rd and 25th of July, this is a music festival that would be really worth your while getting to – no overblown popstars withthe usual commercial pap – rather a celebration of some of the best music in the world.

Check out the full lineup (so far) here.