FROM Kiwi techno-dubsters and a British soul diva to a heady dose of Canadian calypso-reggae and the finest living practitioner of the ancient West African harp lute… not to mention the Balkans’ biggest, baddest wedding and funeral orchestra. I can almost hear those trumpets, trombones, tubas and glockenspiel now.
It can only mean one thing – the initial line-up for this year’s WOMAD Festival, four days of multi-national food, drink and high jinks in the glorious Wiltshire countryside, is announced today.
Heading to the Earl of Suffolk’s lush and expansive back garden at Charlton Park near Malmesbury in July are – among 30,000 dedicated adherents of world music – a delicious assemblage of singers, musicians, dancers and chefs from all corners of the globe.
Anglo-Indian Nitin Sawhney, the versatile, much sought after composer-producer has been one of the hottest names in world music since Beyond Skin, his landmark, every-home-must-have-one 1999 album.
Alice Russell can lay a decent claim to the accolade ‘one of the UK’s greatest soul singers’ while ngoni maestro Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba (the aforementioned lute) has become one of Mali’s most celebrated musical sons.
Fat Freddy’s Drop, a seven-piece New Zealand band who mash up elements of dub, soul and techno in a loud and boisterous manner, were born to play WOMAD.
As was Goran Bregovic’s Wedding & Funeral Orchestra, updating an age-old gipsy brass band tradition with a festival vibe.
Anyone who ever saw the 2005 Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers will have been floored by the soundtrack which featured several examples of Ethiopia’s Mulatu Astatke’s lithe and sensual Ethio-jazz.
The raw emotion results of Rwanda’s genocide-surviving trio The Good Ones are “undeniably impressive,” according to Mojo magazine.
Also from Africa, comes one of the continent’s elder statesmen Oliver Mtukudzi, he of shimmering Zimbabwean guitars, and his excellently named band The Black Spirits.
And for something completely different, Norwegian singer Mari Boine who shakes up folk, rock and jazz to create something decidedly Nordic that is called “joik.” Sounds Bjork-like to me.
Two continents will collide when Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca teams up with Malian songbird Fatoumata Diawara.
And also featured are the Magic Drum Orchestra (UK), Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat (Iran), Anna Cinzia Villani & MacuranOrchestra (Italy), Ibibio Sound Machine (UK/Nigeria) and Nuru Kane (Senegal) with dozens more acts to be announced over the coming months.