After the usual ‘Will they? Won’t they?’ formalities, the WOMAD festival has now released a batch of day tickets for this year’s UK festival.
Based as it is in Charlton Park, just outside Malmesbury, this makes for a feasible day out that many Bristolian world music fans are sure to enjoy.
While the festival weekend begins on Thursday night (July 27) the day tickets are available for Saturday and Sunday, with each day offering over 30 traditional and contemporary music acts from around the globe.
Old favourites, including Seu Jorge, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Benjamin Zephania will be jostling for attention alongside newer arrivals and the usual delights of spoken word, food demonstrations and participatory workshops.
Saturday offers some fine examples of vocal deliciousness, including Finnish contemporary folk from Värttinä Vocal Trio and the spine-tingling Greek singer Savina Yannatou as well as Parvathy Baul, an impassioned Bengali singer of the Sufi Baul style and a rare female voice in that tradition.
The altogether more cool Seu Jorge will be reviving his Lifa Aquatic Brazilian-infused David Bowie covers while Toots and The Maytals can be expected to run through their impeccable back catalogue.
New fusions of ancient and modern feature, as always, with radical Tunisian outfit Ifriqiyya Electrique and Malian collaboration Lamomali both bringing contemporary French producers together with African roots music. Lamomali features the great kora player Toumani Diabate, as well as his rapper son Sidike making beats that will rival producer Squarepusher’s enigmatic new project Shobaleader One and perennial WOMAD favourites Afro-Celt.
And there will be a poignant moment when the Tanzania Albinism Collective make their first ever appearance outside their homeland, taking a defiant stand against the massive social exclusion of albino people in Africa.
A couple of fascinating dance traditions are on display in Sunday’s programme, with the Whirling Dervishes of Damascus miraculously preserving the spiritual dignity of their Sufi tradition in the face of Syria’s continuing chaos, and Japanese dancer Cheiko Kojima enacting the Dojoji legend with Taiko Meantime’s pummelling soundtrack.
There’s even a touch of local interest in Eliza Carthy’s new project – the mighty 12-strong Wayward Band – which includes cellist Beth Porter and trumpeter Nick Malcolm, both familiar faces hereabouts. It’s a cracking folk big band that could well be stepping into Bellowhead’s recently vacated shoes.
For glorious dance energy, however, obvious Sunday stand outs are Ghanaian ‘hiplife’ mainman King Ayisobe’s rasping vocals and West African beats and Chile’s party riot Chico Trujillo, a meltdown of Latin dance grooves nicely bordering on the cheesy. But even those treats are likely to be upstaged by the headline collaboration of US funk vibraphone legend Roy Ayers with Nigerian Afrobeat monsters Seun Kuti and Egypt 80.
WOMAD 2017 is at Charlton Park near Malmesbury, from July 27-30. Day tickets are available for Saturday and Sunday only. Full weekend timetable can be downloaded here and information about all artists performing can be found here.
Read more: My festival romance