- Fri, 2010-08-06 16:37
Once again the WOMAD festival was housed in the beautiful surroundings of Charlton Park, marking the 28th year of the World of Music and Dance festival. Founded in 1980 by Peter Gabriel, Thomas Brooman, and Bob Hooton, the aim of the festival is to introduce global sounds to a western audience, and once again, this goal was successfully achieved, as an audience of all ages turned up in tens of thousands for a weekend of exotic tastes, cultural sensations and music ranging from Afro-Peruvian traditions to Japanese Jazz, and Finnish folk to ragga tinged dubstep.
Having spoken to WOMAD festival programmer Paula Henderson on more than one occasion, we've learnt that one of the trickiest jobs for the WOMAD team is securing visas for certain acts currently residing far afield, to journey across the globe for one show on only one weekend. The heavy lean this year toward UK and European acts can perhaps be put down to this technicality, not a lack of resources or knowledge. As a result, highlights of our weekend came from former Catatonia front woman turned radio DJ Cerys Matthews, whose take on traditional Welsh folk along with classic blues guitar danced across a bedazzled audience late Saturday night within the idyllic BBC Radio 3 stage, nestled amongst a wooded cove in the far corner of the festival.
Live Hip Hop Orchestra, the Irish collective Kormac's Big Band, combined decks and samples with brass and barbershop, while Don Letts spun reggae classics and dub-pop crowd pleasers late into the night...The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain moved from intricate finger picking into anthemic sing-a-longs, scooping up Hawkwind, Sex Pistols, Talking Heads and Weezer favourites and re-delivering them via the Ukelele, defining the art of a good cover version (bring enough of the new, remember enough of the old). Bristol's Phantom Limb wove deep country gospel, littered with modern soul through a hypnotic crowd, while Imogen Heap brought vocal layering, a vast amount of musical toys and a collaboration with UK beatboxer Shlomo to the stage.
With anticipation bubbling amongst the Sunday afternoon audience as legendary headliner Gil Scott Heron loomed in the not too distant future, the beautiful WOMAD procession jingled and jangled throughout the site. Featuring African drumming, large puppets, a marching band and the colourful creations made on site by numerous children, the procession reminded onlookers that WOMAD is about every aspect of global culture. With Taste The World, a large area on site dedicated global cuisine, drumming workshops, early morning yoga and Tai-Chi, plus debates, discussion and live artist interviews, WOMAD is about opening up every sense toward cultural discovery.
More than just your average festival, WOMAD continues its work throughout the year, holding celebrations and festivals around the world, whilst releasing and signing new artists to partner label Real World Records. Find out more and stay up to date here: http://womad.org