Musical journeys through time and across the world – a Womex 13 preview

So today sees me head down to Cardiff and the Wales Millenium Centre for Womex 2013, the World Music Expo.    In all there are 350 artists appearing from 50 countries across 9 stages.  I will be one of 2,200 delegates (330 of which will be journalists!) coming from 90 countries – it has the makings of one epic event.  I’ll be there with a number of hats (Eastern Angles, Phrased and Confused) but will also be helping in a small way with the launch of the hubs new Joining the Dots programme at the Womex Conference.  Joining the Dots is an exciting new scheme which will provide support and funding for the most exciting/innovative new independent music busines ideas and I can’t think of a better place to launch the scheme!

Here’s the official trailer video featuring just a few of the artists appearing over five jam packed full days:

With so many events and concerts being packed into a very short space of time there is so much to look forward to its difficult to select just a few.  But at the risk of making a fool of myself here are a few of my personal highlights .

On the Horizons stage, featuring the best world music artists from the ‘home’ uk nations, I’m looking forward to the intriguing collaboration between Seckou Keita (on kora) and Catrin Finch (on harp) (Friday evening).  Back in 2011 Senegal born Seckou Keita took Dartington’s Home festival (which I had the privilige to co-produce for Dartington and the hub)by storm with an unforgettable acoustic performance in the beautiful surroundings of Dartington Hall (just have a look at Glyn Phillips wonderful photos from that event).  Here are Seckou and Catrin introducing their new colloboration

I’ll also be looking out for another former home artist 9Bach who take to the stage on Saturday.

In a classic festival clash performing at the same time as Seckou and Catrin is the incredible sounding collaboartion between Balkan brass outfit Fanfara Tirana (who I remember dancing embarassingly to at WOMAD) and more well known dance pioneers Transglobal Underground.   Their collaboration is described as ‘a jamboree of kabamuffinery, poly-raggaphony and deep-pan-Balkanicity where cifteli meets sitar, ghajda meets dhol and the corks are thrown away as soon as the bottles are opened’ – all sounds good to me!

Keeping with that dance theme, from South Africa combining Sowetto street parties with beats and almost retro keybound sounds I couldn’t help but smile whilst wathcing this from Shangaan Electro

In a different vein Grupo Bongar  from Brazil – with their mix of vocals, chanting and insistent percussion – sound a great way to start a Saturday night in Cardiff (which if memory serves me correctly , I lived there back in the nineties whilst working at the Sherman, is a pretty lively affair!).

There everything in the programme from the beautiful, haunting sevdah songs of Amira (Bosnia and Herzegovina/France/Serbia/Austria)

to the cheerful sounds of Hungarian  gypsy band Vojasa  (complete with Aluminium can percussion).

Theres rock, with a distinctly korean twist in jambini (this is quite extraordinary!)

Or the sheer joy of the melting pot of sounds and cultures which is Family Atlantica

The whole event kicks off this evening with Land of Song, curated by Cerys Matthews – a spectacular, illustrated journey through 30,000 years of Wales’s story, music and culture, celebrating deep traditions forged in myth and melody going way back into the mists of time.

if you fancy hearing some more of the music thats going to be played live over the five days have a listen to these two spotify playlists.  The first are artists appearing on the Horizons stage I’m looking for

Then the next play list features artists from the main programme itself – a real cross section of artists from across the world.

I’m attending WOMEX as one of ’25 first timers‘ at the convention who have received a reduced delegate pass subsidy from Arts Council England through British Underground.


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