This week Folk Radio UK heads to WOMAD 2016 – 90 Artists from 50 Countries will be performing at this year’s festival so we are going to be thoroughly spoilt for choice, not just with the music but also the art, dance, discussion, activity, food and drink from fifty nations spanning six continents. All this at Wiltshire’s idyllic Charlton Park.
Among the music legends, trailblazers and genre-defining artistes taking to WOMAD’s iconic Charlton Park stages are a true giant of African music Baaba Maal, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer George Clinton in The George Clinton Parliament-Funkadelic, one-of-a-kind indie troubadour John Grant, “queen of flamenco fusion” Buika, jazz-house pioneer St Germain, one of the godfathers of British hip-hop Roots Manuva, groundbreaking Scottish folk balladeer King Creosote, Grammy winning sitar-superstar Anoushka Shankar, and the irrepressible New Orleans jazz funk party Hot 8 Brass Band.
As always this year’s WOMAD will also be an intersection between joyous musical celebration and political expression, with women’s rights and experiences as a refugee or political exile particularly prominent this year. Vibrant French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux is best known for her song 1977’s inclusion in the Breaking Bad soundtrack but as the daughter of exiles from the Pinochet regime she is also a strong voice against injustice. Desert Blues songstress Aziza Brahim can call upon personal experience when decrying persecution, having been born and raised in a Western Saharan refugee camp before eventually relocating to Spain, while Mali’s Inna Modja wields her seemingly gentle afropop as a weapon against domestic violence and FGM.
Looking further east and Selda Bagcan’s outspoken humanitarian views, often communicated through spikey folk-rock, have seen her persecuted by the Turkish government to such an extent that she missed WOMAD 1986 after having her passport confiscated, while Aynur occupies the unique and delicate position of being a popular Kurdish folk artist based in Turkey.
Jazz hip-hop crossover Heartbeat have also carved out a humanitarian niche, with members from Israel and Palestine coming together in the spirit of cooperation, while Dubioza Kolektiv’s uncompromising yet bouncing ska-punk is loaded with countercultural and anti-consumerist themes with the help of such topical references as Games of Thrones and Wikileaks.
Just a few other artists who embody the spirit of diversity and discovery at this year’s WOMAD include soulful Brazilian songstress Dom La Nena who sings in five languages, multicultural (French-German-Vietnamese-Ivorian) electro-triphop pioneer Onra, reggae collective Meta and the Cornerstones whose members’ six nationalities span Senegal to Jamaica to Japan, Belgian-Congolese outfit Baloji & L’Orchestre De La Katube who seamlessly mix West African Folk with French Rap, motormouth Scottish-Indian reggae-rapper and MC Soom T and otherworldly Transylvanian folk-cabaret Zmei3.
Bowers & Wilkins, the British audio innovator, will also make a popular return to WOMAD 2016 with its acclaimed Sound System adding incredible new sonic layers to the music of Dawn Penn,Jah Shaka, The Invisible and Optimo among others.
BBC Radio 3 will continue their instrumental support of the festival, curating a diverse range of acts on the Charlie Gillett Stage and broadcasting live from the festival every day including a live simulcast with BBC Radio 6 Music on Sunday morning (31st July) fronted by Cerys Matthews.
Beyond this outstanding world of music WOMAD 2016 will also provide an amazing range of extra-curricular entertainment for the whole family.
Offerings at this year’s World of Children include a Brazilian Carnival of dance, circus skills and music, forming part of a raft of fun and family-friendly activities that also features a BFI Silent Movie Workshop which teaches children to create and star in their own silver screen classics, lessons in tree climbing and the world famous Carter’s Steam Fair. Star choreographer and director Matthew Bourne will be inspiring kids and adults alike to don their dancing shoes as two of his leading choreographers from his company, New Adventures & Re:Bourne will host masterclass lessons for all ages in The Happening Tent.
In an exciting new addition for 2016 The Physics Pavilion bridges the gap between science and entertainment, with a fun and fascinating programme featuring the likes of lead Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat who will discuss how the programme blends science fact with science fiction.
Among other horizon-expanding activities on offer at the Physics Pavilion are opportunities to learn about space weather, light drawing and the physics of fireworks, get hands on by creating a cloud-in-a-box and go live into the control room of the ATLAS experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland and hear from those who work there.
Another returning favourite to stimulate the brainwaves is World of Words, with this year’s events including an appearance at the Hip Yak Poetry Shack from the official poet for the London Olympics Lemn Sissay MBE, Squeeze’s Chris Difford giving a lyrics-writing masterclass, a topical What The Papers Say panel hosted by ITV reporter Rupert Evelyn and featuring The One Show’s naturalist Mike Dilger, a weekend-long residency by cult U.S. magazine FOUND fronted by Senior Editor Sarah Locke, author and Grammy nominated producer Ian Brennan, who will be shining some light on where things have gone wrong with popular music, as discussed in his new book ‘How Music Dies (or Lives)’ and, at the Ecotricity stage, Jon Snow will host discussions on how to achieve a Green Britain with youngsters aged 11-16.
In addition to this WOMAD’s unique and irresistible range of food and drink includes the return of the amazing Taste the World stage – which sees performers cook a dish from their native country for the audience – and an exciting new partnership with sustainable wine merchants Yalumba who will be providing something delicious wines to wash it down with.
All of this amazing music and entertainment takes place in the lush green haven of Wiltshire’s Charlton Park from 28-31 July in what’s sure to be a WOMAD for the ages.
Here’s a flavour of what to expect at this year’s WOMAD:
Find out more here: womad.co.uk