Photography by Tom Askew-Miller
Oumou Sangaré, Alsarah & the Nubatones and the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians get the party going on Friday at WOMAD Charlton Park
Saturday morning at Charlton Park, head slightly fuzzy after Friday night’s shenanigans but at least the clothes have just about dried out after the evening’s downpour. However it takes more than a bit of wet weather to dampen WOMAD festival-goers’ spirit.
Friday kicked off with members of the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians on the Open Air Stage then there was some raucous klezmer from London-based band Don Kipper – the first act on the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett stage. Two recent Songlines coverstars were among the highlights of the day – Mali’s Oumou Sangaré on the Open Air Stage and Alsarah with her band the Nubatones over in the arboretum, on the Ecotricity stage. But the joy of the ever eclectic WOMAD programme is there are always random new discoveries to be made as you wander around the site.
Two acts that left a notable impression yet were completely unknown to me were The New York Theremin Society on the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System stage and the wonderfully weird but slightly bonkers Goat from Sweden in the Siam tent who definitely get the prize for best costumes and masks. And Orkesta Mendoza’s Salvador Duran wins the award for the most flamboyant maracas playing I’ve seen in a long time! The most touching moment of the day came when a longtime Songlines subscriber came to the stand, mentioned in passing to the team that the only back issue he was missing from his collection was the first issue whereby the always eager to please publisher made a quick dash to his secret stash and then presented the loyal subscriber with a pristine copy of the very same issue from 1999 – now a collector’s item. The Songlines team always aims to please!
Saturday’s weather forecast is not looking too good but at least there’s plenty of cracking music lined up. Things on the list to check out today are Colombia’s Grupo Canalón de Timbiquí, the Indian singer Parvathy Baul who is bound to entrance the crowd and festival faves and Songlines Music Award winners Afro Celt Sound System. It looks set to be another corker of a day!