It's not long til the National Folk Festival
at Easter! But first, a run-down of Womadelaide 2019
I only stopped in for a little while to take some photos. One of the things that has changed with this festival in the past few years is the propotion of 'one-show-only' acts. There are so many that they are often programmed up against each other in the same time slots. I have a feeling this may be happening across the festival scene, perhaps in part because there are more festivals and more opportunities for touring acts to make the most of their time in Australia.
Only arrived for the end of her set and she was impressive. See, I am probably a bit too willing to stay for only a few songs of one act so I can catch a bit of another. I miss the days when attending for the full three (later four) days meant you would pretty much get to see every act - or you could fall in love with a new favourite and follow them around all weekend.
- I was curious and keen to see Gwenno. She sings in Welsh and Cornish - she grew up with a Cornish-speaking father and a Welsh-speaking mother - and has a background as pop singer. (Wikipedia also reveals she was trained in Irish dancing and was part of the Riverdance cast). The music was dreamy and a bit psychedelic.
Christine & The Queens -
possibly the best show of the weekend, certainly up there in the top few. It was equally about the pop music and the dancers, who strutted and swaggered, hands in pockets, playing with how gender is performed, none more fluidly than "Chris" herself.
- I also wasn't there for a whole set (and this isn't a great photo) and I think I meant to get to a full set later in the weekend but failed. I'm sad about that missed opportunity, as she and the band were really good, and I loved seeing a woman playing the kora. Allegedly she is the first woman to play kora professionally
- this electric violin sounded really good (they don't always).
Liz Phair -
I was keen for this, I usually get into the 90's rock thing, although I had never really listened to Liz Phair specifically. Stayed for only a little while, as it wasn't really working for me.
Amjad Ali Khan
- playing with his two sons, all on sarod.
- one of my favourite acts this year. Two electric ouds (sometimes one acoustic) and lots of samples and loops.
Yohai Cohen Quintet
- this was an interesting transition straight from DuOud to another oud-based act but a much different style. A nice late night, sit down, chilled out set.
5AngryMen - The Bells -
I thought there was going to be a more interesting angle to this but wasn't even inspired to take photos. The set was clever - a large circular frame with ropes that look like bell-pulls hanging from bungee cords. The men pull on the ropes in time with recorded bell music, and of course theatrical hijinks ensue. Fun for the kids sitting at the edge of the circle when they lean out hard on those ropes and almost run into people. But I think I am over the 'group of wacky men dressed in black and lots of eyeliner' style of theatre. Maybe I was rolling my eyes too hard to follow the storyline?
Silkroad Ensemble -
No photos, but this was a really enjoyable show with a diverse group of musicians.
Tara Tiba -
Perth-based Iranian singer with a diverse range and playing with Cuban musicians. She was marvellous.
Maalem Hamid El Kasri
- from Morocco and Master of the guembri, a three-stringed bass lute.
The Maes, with Monique Clare.
Not sure how I have missed ever seeing the Maes before, but I'm sure I will again. Monique is a Stringmania
- I wish I had gotten closer for photos but I would have had to plan ahead for that. Angelique is always brilliant. Total diva, great suit, very energetic. I was really curious about her Talking Heads material (she did an album which covers 'Remain in Light' in its entirety). Wasn't entirely convinced by those songs live but I do want to hear the album. For one or two songs she invited a whole lot of artists from backstage to come on stage and dance. It looked like a really fun party.
Sharon Shannon Band -
I met up with quite a few friends at the festival but we tend to go our separate ways a lot of the time. This was one set that most of us went to together. It was so much fun! I had seen their show in Canberra a week or so before, but loved them that much more in the festival setting. Sharon is such great band leader. She works with a lot of different singers and musicians and seems so generous in putting others forward for recognition. She was touring with Susan O'Neill, a young Irish folk/blues singer with an incredible voice (and she plays trumpet too), who made a splash at the National last year.
The percussionist in the photo above is Greg Sheehan, who taught rhythm at Stringmania
last year and will be back this year too. The dancer is an artist from another band who was watching the show backstage.
Maarja Nuut & Ruum
No photos but I really enjoyed this set from the Estonian duo, 'folk-tronica
' with more samples and fiddle with looping pedal and atmospheric vocals.
- was fabulous in quite a small venue with a lot of people in the audience. I wish I had seen the whole set but I had arranged to meet friends to say goodbye for the weekend at the next set...
The Correspondents -
English electro-swing duo. They had played once earlier in the weekend and then came back in place of another act cancelled due to illness. This was a really fun show to watch and to photograph. Mr Bruce is a super-energetic performer and dancer.