Summertime for me usually means 1 of 3 things…Garden Parties, Beetroot Salads and WOMAD.
I have been going to the WOMAD festival since the age of about 12-13ish, which makes this year the 10th year of my return. Every year my family come together, my step sister [Poison Ivy] dyes her hair a fresh shade of awesome, my step brother [Batman] stocks up on the beer and whiskey and The parents [The Incredibles] start testing the tents and airbeds, filling the gas bottles and checking the solar powered lighting and I delve into the secret place in my wardrobe which harbours all the WOMAD clothing.
Now This year is the 30th Anniversary of the WOMAD festival, started by Peter Gabriel back in [let me calculate this] 1982. It’s also as I’ve said our families 10th year of the tradition of attending. All this excitement has got me to thinking about the moments that were most special to me, moments that will stick in my head forever…when I was younger my siblings and I weren’t too fussed with the music, I once fell asleep in a crowd of thousands watching heavy dub reggae, but in later years I have really [To my step dad’s joy] finally taken an interest in the music, watching the line up change over the coming months, joining the forum to discuss potential acts and really investing in the festival that has grown to mean so much to me and my family.
As a youngster, for me WOMAD was like going into a book (bear with me). When you drove into the site (originally in Reading, but even more so since the move to Charlton Park) at the old site you sort of drove around the barriers so you couldn’t see in, all you could see were these weird and wonderful cars and vans and people on roofs, and windows open with people hanging out in the sun, rear windows blocked by hoards of multicoloured banners and tent bags and boxes of wine. To a child’s eye it was all magical, this feeling slumped towards the end of the Reading site’s history, by then us ‘kids’ were getting a bit older, starting to enjoy the bacardi breezers more than the party itself…then it moved to Charlton Park, and after a rough first year [THE YEAR OF WOMUD]…
Charlton Park recaptured my imagination, entering the site through the ‘purple gate’ going through a little castle gatehouse made you feel secretive and special driving into the tree lined fields, all the effort of dragging your makeshift home through the already worn down sandy coloured grass, with every step relinquishing a little more of the modern world, losing a shoe gaining a sandal, losing a sat nav and acquiring a programme, losing a house and moving into a tented home…
Unless you’ve been to WOMAD it’s hard to describe WOMAD, it’s not like Glastonbury or Reading or V fest, it’s just NOT. Yes there are tents and music for younger people now, and even designated camping with a bar ON SITE!!, but it’s still not a normal festival. It has balls at the same time as having respect. It is unique at the same time as being popular. Every person you pass generally smiles at you because you know the secret, you know the WOMAD truth just like they do. Whether they are a newbie or an old timer, a WOMADspa goer or a DirtyFestieLover, your all the same, your all equals, there to enjoy good music, good food and a good time.
So to finish my introductory post about WOMAD, I thought I would share some of my favourite acts from my time at the festival. I couldn’t include them all as youtube only provides so much for me, but I have included pictures throughout this post which are my own and my families of the festival we have grown to love, adore and cherish.
If the quality is not great I apologise, I tried to find the best ones online sadly there is no TV coverage of the WOMAD festival although it is on BBC radio 3. So I have had to rely on audience footage. I hope you enjoy none-the-less…
2011 – The Boxettes
Last year The Boxettes were literally jaw dropping! Every part of their music is created by their voices alone. To create those sounds, I was dumb founded and so was the entire audience and the gatherin gfor their workshop as well. I didn’t even touch my cider once throughout the performance I was that in awe of these girlies, if they came back for the 30th Anniversary I would cheer till my mouth pissed off for the rest of the festival!! check them out THE BOXETTES. Their one and and only video for their single ‘FREE‘ is what drew me to them to begin with and I had heard from the london grapevine that is my friend Iron Man, that if I didn’t see them last year I’d regret it.
2010 – Imogen Heap
2010, was for me (and most of my family) THE best year at WOMAD. Every single one of us, as we have very different tastes, found something we thoroughly enjoyed and we all came home positively beaming. For me 2010 has a special place in my heart, as I got to see one of my favourite artists on the planet. Imogen Heap was amazing and even though I was 3/4 of the way back in the Siam Tent, surrounded by very tall South Africans [who gave me a beer and let me stand on their step stool :)] it is still to this day the most emotionally powerful and affective performance I have ever seen. I was totally overwhelmed in a way I never expected to be by music.
2010 – Imelda May
Also in 2010, we had the AMAZEBALLS set by the totally beautiful Imelda May, Now I was supposed to be going to a dubstep gig in the Big Red Tent but Poison Ivy persuaded me to stick with her and The Incredibles to watch Imelda, I was sceptical, I had heard of her but wasn’t all that fussed, so went off to get some food [My favourite Paella was on the cards that day] and as I was walking back I heard this funky dirty beat, and these amazing rock’n’roll riffs and was dancing with my Paella wondering where it was coming from. It was only when I saw Poison Ivy gesturing me into the crowd with a beer I thought ‘Okayyyyy now this bird is goooooood’. Needless to say we bought the album and sang it like crazy people all the way home that year!
2009 – Nneka
Nneka was a discovery for me. I saw her on the line up a few months before hand and got hooked on her track Heartbeat. I was pumped to see her but my family weren’t too sure. I convinced my step-dad that she was like warm honey on a bagel and he agreed to come and see her. He loved her dolcet tones and the rest of the family loved the dancing beats which allowed them to boogie. It was at that moment i said she would make awesome dubstep music. 6 months after WOMAD her track Heartbeat had been remixed by Chase and Status and was being played on BBC radio1! have I mentioned i’m a music psychic? *NEW POST ME THINKS*
2007 – The Dhol Foundation
And finally, The Dhol Foundation. This group has a treasured and hallowed place in my families heart especially my mum’s. Johnny Kelsi, the front man is an incredible force to be reckoned with and has the charm and wit to go with the immense amount of talent he displays in every single performance. My mum blares their albums from her car like a regular boy racer, you can watch her smacking the steering wheel in time with the electric fusion beats and nodding her head, no in fact headbanging to the drops and kicks and intrigueing sounds on every single track. She was heartbroken at WOMUD when we had to leave early before seeing them, and since then has not been able to see them. If I ever won the lottery I would get them to do a private concert for her.
AND WELL, THAT’S IT…
For now anyway, I will update as we get closer to the festival and I shall be live blogging from the site itself this year as well. But until then enjoy the videos and check out the WOMAD website and buy some tickets yourself, if you do let me know and we can have a WordPress Bloggers Meet at the Chai Tent 🙂
Happy Blogging, Cheers for Reading,