Tuesday, May 1, 2012

WOMAD 2012

We had such a good time at WOMAD last year that we decided to repeat the experience. In the middle of March, with a pretty good weather forecast, we packed the car up and headed off to New Plymouth. The Taranaki area had had a big storm a few weeks prior and the damage we could see during the drive was incredible. Entire pine plantations with trees snapped off partway up their trunks. Many trees were uprooted. Some farm buildings were flattened.

We arrived at New Plymouth, set up camp and then headed into the Brooklands Bowl for Friday night's entertainment. The event itself runs for three days with a wide variety of international music. After seeing some awesome acts in 2011 we were looking forward to a whole new set of artists to entertain us and we were not disappointed. I can't exactly remember who we saw when but here are some of the acts that were particularly good.

The first act that was of interest to us was a couple of guys playing accordions. Yes I know. Accordions. Sounds like the performance could have been pretty lame but these two could play the heck out of those instruments and produced a unique sound. The guys were Toninho Ferraguti and Bebe Kramer from Brazil. It was a great act to get us into the mood of WOMAD.

The other act of the evening that we enjoyed was Gurrumal who is a blind Aboriginal performer - a man with an amazing voice and extremely talented. His performance was chilled out on a lovely sunny evening. Later in the evening we listened to a trio from West Auckland called The Nukes. These guys played original music on their ukuleles and had the crowd tapping their toes and smiling. After their performance the time had come to retire to the campground to rest up for the next two days of music.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny. The music started at midday and the first act of note for us was Paul Ubana Jones. Paul is the son of a Nigerian father and Yorkshire mother. He has lived in New Zealand since the late eighties. He is a wizard on his guitar and has a distinctive, gravelly voice. He was a pleasure to listen to and was amusing and entertaining.

The next standout performance on Saturday was Dobet Gnahore. She is from the Ivory Coast and performed with an incredible energy. Some of her dance moves (wild leaping around the stage) and her stage presence made her performance exhilarating to watch and was invigorating for the crowd.

The day was going well, with icy cold cider slipping down quite nicely. Now it was time for a truly unique performance from one Adam Page. Adam plays many different instruments and utilises loop pedals (I apologise for my lack of knowledge of these things - to me it looked like some sort of recording device where he could capture snippets of different sounds and then replay repeats of them, layered with other sounds - so that's loop pedals maybe?). The sound he produced with all those layers was incredible. At one point he even played his beard and added that into the mix. Adam has a great sense of humor and the chilled out crowd were very appreciative of his show. He lives in Wellington so we're hoping to see more of him in the future.

We had a sluggish start to our day on Sunday. I put that down to too much whiskey consumption the night before. We found a shady spot to sit and listen to the Tori Ensemble. This Korean band played some interesting instruments and we enjoyed the sedate pace and the distinctive sound they produced.
Next up was a repeat of The Nukes. This time round we could sing along to some of their songs including their infamous Worm song (sadly they haven't recorded this song yet, otherwise I would provide a link to it).

We found the performance by the Pascals amusing and fun. This was a large group from Japan - they were slightly wacky but a joy to watch and listen to. The final performance for us was Band of Thousands - this was Adam Page performing with Riki Gooch. This act proved to us that we would be finding out more about the techniques Adam uses and also that we would need to see him perform again.

On Monday morning it was time to pack up and head for home. The weather collapsed as we left New Plymouth and the area was struck by yet another storm with high winds causing damage to property. Thank goodness the storm held off until after Womad had finished. For the second year running we'd attended this event in brilliant weather. Fingers crossed that it's like that in 2013 too.

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