WOMADelaide Long Weekend

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Wow, what a weekend!

World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) is a cross-cultural festival promoting global tolerance through, that’s right, music, arts and dance. Founded in 1980  by (among others) Peter Gabriel, vocalist of rock band Genesis, the first WOMAD was held in 1982 in the UK.

Ten years later WOMADelaide was introduced through the Adelaide Festival of Arts securing a spot on Adelaide’s festival calendar every second year. From 2003, with State Government funding, Womadelaide became an annual 3-day event. Since 2010 it was increased to 4 days as the program expanded and popularity increased.

The 34-hectare Botanic Park is fenced off for the event so, bearing preservation of the park in mind, WOMADelaide teamed with Zero Waste SA and since 2005 have been composting the waste from the festival and returning it to the park to keep the ecosystem balanced.

Re-vegetation of native bushland in South Australia has been included in the WOMADelaide program to offset the carbon footprint generated by transporting artists to the event. There is much more to be said about the positives of this event, but the best thing for you to do is buy tickets for WOMADelaide 2016 and see for yourself. This year over 90,000 of us attended so let me see if I can spark your interest to come next year with my full dance card from WOMADelaide 2015.

Enjoying Botanic Park - WOMADelaide 2015

The event begins at 16:30 on Friday afternoon. There are many options for ticket purchases, and early bird discounts are available before the event. The Baron and I had three day passes from Friday to Sunday, but others go for the full four days while some just for the day or evening.

The WOMADelaide app is invaluable. Select favourites, and you’ll receive a notification 15 minutes before a performance commencing. The program is huge with something on at least four of the seven stages at any given time so taking the time to set this up is worth it.

The meeting place for our crew is always the main bar between stages 1 and 2 and this year it was a great vantage point for The Colour of Time Parade. Reinventing India’s Holi Festival, performers, musicians and WOMADelaidians dance through the park dousing one another with colourful gulal powder celebrating unity, acceptance and diversity.

At the Frome Road entrance, Osadia from Barcelona did hair and make-up set to music. That’s hair and makeup in a way you’ve never seen before.

Take a stroll through the art installation, Architects of Air – Exxopolis. A giant inflated sculpture with 10-metre domes glowing with light and colour.

Colour of Time, Osadia, Exxopolis - WOMADelaide 2015

On Centre Stage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander band, Painted Ladies and Brisbane singer/songwriter Luke Peacock have re-recorded The Loner, a black protest album originally recorded by Vic Simms while an inmate in Bathurst Gaol in the 70’s. It’s country-soul. Have a listen here.

Charlie Musselwhite and Willow Beats, on at the same time, couldn’t have been further apart musically and in distance. We headed to stage 7 for Uncle/ Niece duo Willow Beats. The only disappointment being, Charlie Musselwhite on Stage 3 only played Friday night. Damn!

Buena Vista Sessions consisting only of Jesus “Aquaje” Ramos on trombone, Barbarito Torres on Laúd and the fabulous Omara Portuondo, continuing to belt out tunes at 84 years old, played for us Friday night while on Saturday night we saw the full Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club celebrating their Cuban music heritage. WOMADelaide was part of their “Adios” tour, so we were fortunate to catch them.

New Yorker Sharon Van Etten was a first night highlight. Honest, heartfelt lyrics and beautiful vocals at stage 3 on the softest grass in the park.

Before heading to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras party to perform cabaret, Rufus Wainwright took centre stage and didn’t disappoint. Counting opera composing and Judy Garland tribute arrangement among his skills, I was thrilled he played this.

Full of energy and attitude Soil and “Pimp” Sessions, from Japan, gave all they had with a style they call “Death Jazz” and they killed it!

Buena Vista Sessions, Rufus Wainwright, Soil & "Pimp" Sessions - WOMADelaide 2015

On Saturday afternoon Robert Forster, a founding member of The Go-Betweens, joined with Jherek Bischoff and the Zephyr Quartet at the Morton Bay Stage. Shade at this stage from the Morton Bay Fig Trees makes it a comfortable, laid-back spot.

From Africa to New York, Abdullah Ibrahim Quartet‘s sultry piano and haunting jazz beats can be appreciated on Echoes from Africa

CW Stoneking‘s rock ‘n’ roll dancehall blues with backing vocals from our own Vika and Linda Bull had toes tapping and hands clapping in the hot afternoon sun.

Scroll to the 60-second mark of this link, and you’ll hear the contagious sound of Balkan Beat Box. After that check this out. They were so much fun.

When Brazilian, Flavia Coelho appeared onstage we knew we were in for something special. Playing to a packed crowd or in a small venue, as the clip above shows, she has the audience in the palm of her hand.

Father and son duo, Toumani and Sidiki Diabate come from 70 odd continuous generations of Kora players. Toumani has introduced the instrument to the world with albums, tours, GRAMMYs and collaborations with the likes of Herbie Hancock and Bjork. Sidiki is half of Mali’s premier hip-hop duo, was voted best beat maker in 2013 and runs his recording studio without leaving behind his kora playing roots. It was evident in the way they played together how much they enjoy it.

Heading to the exit Saturday night we couldn’t help stopping to hear Theo Parrish on stage 7. Playing disco, funk and soul mixes; standing still was not an option.

African gospel music with instruments made from scrap metal and drink cans overlaid by 6 part harmonies is what Malawi Mouse Boys do. This clip shows music grows anywhere.

Julia Henning, a Willunga local, was born with a rare lung condition not at all obvious now. Her version of “Running up that Hill” will satisfy even the most stalwart Kate Bush fans.

CW Stoneking, Toumani & Sidiki Diabate, Julia Henning - WOMADelaide 2015

Have a listen to Sóley. She’s Icelandic but sings mainly in English. She describes her lyrics as “Dreamy, surrealistic and in their own world.” She wants us to decide what they mean to us.

Tjintu Desert Band are from Ikuntji (or Haast’s Bluff) in the centre of Australia; population 200. Their sound, “Desert Reggae” sung in both Luritja and English, rocked.

The sound was a little off at stage 7 for Neneh Cherry with Rocketnumbernine+, but they still gave an excellent performance for International Women’s Day. Later Neneh Cherry joined Youssou N’Dour for “7 seconds”, their famous collaboration. Youssou N’Dour and his band Super Etoile de Dakar headlined Sunday with a spectacular performance centre stage.

Arriving in Barcelona as illegal immigrants from Colombia and Argentina Che Sudaka have been around for over ten years. They gave us a punk, reggae, hip-hop, ska party from the opening note!

Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg are First Aid Kit. Their career began by uploading their Indie, folk, Country music onto MySpace in 2007 and they’ve been forging ahead ever since. Their 3rd album “Stay Gold” was released last year and was named Album of the Year at the Swedish Grammys and a set of Swedish postage stamps were released this year with them featured.

Neneh Cherry, Che Sudaka, First Aid Kit - WOMADelaide 2015

As mentioned, we had three day passes so missed Sinead O’Connor on Monday night but she was “incredible” according to one of my mates.

Each day can begin with an hour of Yoga with Lululemon if you’re up for that and there’s also “Hammock time in the Pines”. Lie in a hammock for 10 minutes following a guided meditation, turn the phone off and connect with the environment. Leave the kids at Kidzone between noon and 18:00 with their art workshops and entertainers.

Planet Talks at Speakers Corner are panel discussions covering Climate Change, Food Sustainability, Music and Art. Also at Speakers Corner check out Taste The World where artists and musicians cook their signature dishes.

Talking food; Global Village holds around 100 stalls of a vast array of cuisines. Wine from Yalumba, beer from Coopers and Cider from Hills Cider can be purchased at bars close to most of the stages. Food areas, Kidzone and many areas are smoke-free, and craft, clothing, jewellery and NGOs present their wares for some retail therapy.

Did I mention we flew 12.5 hours to get to this event this year? It really is a thing we love….

BTW…many thanks to my good friend Troy Hunter for allowing me to use some of his pics! xx

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