The first thing that springs to mind on a glance through this year’s lineup for Musicport Festival is the astonishing variety of World Music on offer. A number of the artists performing in the lineup I also saw at WOMAD this year (read our review here) such as Afro Celt Sound System, Benjamin Zephaniah & The Revolutionary Minds, Maarja Nuut and Jamie Smith’s Mabon. Alongside them is a long list of personal favourites including Trio Da Kali, Rory McLeod & The Familiar Strangers, O’Hooley & Tidow and Grace Petrie. Now I was about to say, after a slightly rainy day at WOMAD that these bands would bring the sunshine out but the beauty of Musicport is that it is the UK’s biggest indoor festival of World Music. Even better, it coincides with the October half term for many. With indoor camping as an option, a festival bazaar in the main hall and international food vans it has the outdoor festival vibe but protected from the elements and with lots of activities to participate in as well as acts to see.
Here’s a quick rundown of some the artists performing this year:
Afro Celt Sound System: European and African based, globally-connected collective Afro Celt Sound System have been instrumental in fuelling that far-reaching approach; over 20 years, they’ve found kindred spirits across international talent and forged a reputation for exhilarating shows and their latest album The Source sees them on absolutely top form.
Benjamin Zephaniah & The Revolutionary Minds: Pioneering dub poet, writer, social commentator and music maker with new album “Revolutionary Minds.” a dub reggae album that tackles the indigestible topic of the world we live in today, political & economic corruption, global warming, rampant racism, fascist patriarchy…. “Revolutionary Minds” will make you feel empowered, hopeful, galvanised to make a difference and make you dance; it’s a dub thing.
Trio Da Kali (Mali): A Malian super group with an impressive pedigree. Singer Hawa is the daughter of the great Kass Mady Diabaté, still one of West Africa’s great voices. Lassana Diabaté, formerly with Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra, is a master of the ancient West African wooden xylophone, the balafon, while ngoni player Mamadou Kouyaté is the eldest son of the instrument’s greatest exponent, Bassekou Kouyaté. The trio are reviving material from the Mandé griot tradition with contemporary edge & will release in 2017 an album with Kronos Quartet.
Tcha Limberger’s Kalotaszeg Trio (Hungary): A trio showcasing specifically the folk music played by Gypsies in a small region of Transylvania with a universally respected cultural heritage. The three main repertoires played are Hungarian, Romanian, and Gypsy. Led by the astonishing fiddle player Tcha.
Kefaya: Astonishing band (named after the unofficial moniker of the Egyptian Movement for Change) with their finely crafted blend of ecstatic Indo-prog led by the virtuoso talents of Giuliano Moderelli & Al McSween both who trained at Leeds College Of Music. Winner of Songlines 2017 Newcomer Award.
Maia Barou (Japan/France): The daughter of a Japanese painter and a French author/producer the flute is her first instrument, but she sings using a special technique from a small island in the South of Japan, mixing it with modern and electric sounds. The Japanese daily Asahi once described Maïa as “an explosive curiosity, a beast without constraints” Bound to be a big hit.
Maarja Nuut (Estonia): Charismatic fiddler and singer from Northern Estonia. Her music combines traditional dance tunes, songs and stories with live electronics to create an intricately layered soundscape in a space where minimalism and experimental music meet the village musical traditions of pre-war Europe.
Joanne Harris & Storytime Band: The internationally acclaimed author of Chocolat brings a new live show to the festival, featuring dark tales from her forthcoming collection and projections, original music and song from the band she has been a member of since college.
Amaraterra: A London-based group of expatriates from Salento in southern Italy, whose songs in the pizzica dance style speak of love, longing and passion and whose live shows kick up a storm by all accounts.
Andy Kershaw: A late night DJ set from the broadcaster journalist and foremost advocate of the type of music Musicport promotes.
Maya Youssef Trio (Syria): Virtuoso Syrian kanun player Maya whose virtuosity and unique, innovative approach to playing the kanun, originally a traditional instrument, have expanded her audiences to international platforms.
Rafiki Jazz ‘The most diverse band in the UK, a host of musicians spanning four continents with refugee artists at its heart & immense sincerity and compassion coursing through their songs.’
Jamie Smith’s Mabon (Wales): Rightly hailed as one of Britain’s ‘must see’ live acts, their music travelling beyond borders to explore the forms and styles of the Celtic traditions and work them anew.
Omar Puente’s Cuban Sextet: Omar is a Cuban-born violinist and jazz musician, currently living in England. He has been called “a classical violinist with a heart that beats with a Cuban rhythm, a soul that is African, and a home in West Yorkshire”.
Fistful of Spookies: UK contingent of the phenomenon that is the Spooky Men’s Chorale. The Spooky Men’s Chorale emerged the Blue Mountains of NSW fifteen years ago and armed with no more than their impressively cavernous vocal chords, a nice line in deadpan, improbable facial hair and an ill-matched set of hats, have been gleefully wooing audiences throughout Australia, NZ and the UK ever since.
Himmerland (Denmark): A group of five travelling musicians who come from Denmark, Poland and Ghana, in West Africa who met in beautiful wide-skied northern part of Jutland called Himmerland. They compose their own music and infuse it with all the different traditions that run in their blood and travel the world performing it.
Bollywood Jazz Project: A joyous collision of styles as virtuoso jazz musicianship meets the technicolour drama of Bollywood for a journey through cinematic sound and created developed here in Yorkshire.
Orchestra of Samples Addictive TV perform their latest audio visual. The duo has won international acclaim for the project described as “a glimpse into the very essence of music” and “ingenious and compelling”. 200 musicians from more than 25 different countries are sampled, combined and reimagined into extraordinary, unique fusions that cross multiple styles and cultures alongside live musicians.
Pete Williams & His Band: Founding member of Dexys Midnight Runners, Pete with his band of merry Midlanders deliver songs of mystery, imagination, love, loss, joy and memory that come down on you like a ton of feathers.
Ian Prowse: All-Liverpudlian musical hero and frontman of both Pele & Amsterdam and a solo artist of renown who has worked with Elvis Costello, John Peel & Christy Moore amongst many others in his long career.
Rory McLeod & The Familiar Strangers present internationally popular performer Rory’s songs in a fresh and exciting new musical environment and bring a musical depth and range to compliment Rory’s outstanding talents as wordsmith his engaging and earthy performing qualities.
Kathakali Theatre Company: (India) Drama, dance, music and ritual are combined in the classical Indian art form kathakali. Featuring eminent artists from Kerala, South India. Stunning both visually and aurally this sacred theatre erupts on stage with striking images that expose the magical world of South India.
O’Hooley & Tidow: “boundless songwriting and exquisite harmonies that truly shine” ***** The Guardian. A West Yorkshire duo who we have seen develop from the start and who have now become one of the must-see acts on the circuit.
Hardeep Singh Kohli: Comedian, broadcaster, journalist, and chef. In addition to being a BBC Radio 4 favourite, Hardeep’s broadcast credits include shows ranging from Celebrity Masterchef & The One Show to Question Time & This Week. He has also won a BAFTA for his work as director. Here he’ll run cookery stage and DJ.
Bob’s Blundabus: The double decker bar & venue home to clowns, storytellers and comedians and our onsite fringe venue.
Grace Petrie: Folk singer, songwriter, and activist from Leicester who first exploded on to the national protest scene in 2010 with the emotive anthem Farewell to Welfare, which captured perfectly the spirit of the new wave of dissent in austerity Britain.
Bar Steward Sons Of Val Doonican: “… very, very funny…one of the hardest working bands on the planet” Mike Harding
Hattie Hatstar: Acoustic-comedy-punk-folk-cabaret
Leasungspell: Teesside poet Bob Beagrie’s epic poem set in the wilds of Northumbria in the year 657 AD
Head on over to their website for more details here: http://www.musicportfestival.com/