Saturday, March 21, 2009

It was so good that we got bored

juldeh camara
You might just want to skim or skip this post if you've seen and heard enough from me about this year's Womadelaide festival. I hadn't yet reflected on the music this time around, and I like being able to look back on posts like this later on. So here are my micro-reviews of most of the artists I saw and heard during the weekend.

Arte Kanela - flamenco music and dancing. Show-offy fun.

Andi & George Band - we turned up at the end of their Friday night show. I had heard the buzz about this large, fluid Canberra group, but had never seen or heard them. We really enjoyed their range of mostly upbeat reggae, soul, and roots-influenced music. Unfortunately they are finishing up as a band (I gather George had already made his exit) - we also went along to their final show on the Sunday night. There were about 14 or 15 people on a small stage looking like they were having the best time ever. Towards the end they found room for a bunch of Canberra groupies to dance around on stage as well. It could have felt cliquey but instead it just felt like the party expanded to include the whole crowd.

Ska Cubano - interesting idea, though I didn't fully get into it - an innovative combination of Jamaican ska and Cuban mambo music.

Paprika Balkanicus - gypsy music Balkan-style, with members from Romania, Slovenia and Serbia. I like my gypsy music any way I can get it; in this case the fiddle count was low - only one, but smokin' - yet there WERE two accordions, yay. Youngish guys with a slightly wack sense of humour.

Lo Cor de la Plana - a big highlight, six blokes from Marseilles singing beautiful harmonies accompanied only by hand claps and hand held drums/tambourines. My rudimentary French skills were not a lot of use, as their thing is to revitalise songs from the ancient Occitan culture and language. Oh and their jokes and comments between songs were about as dirty as their singing was angelic.

Rachel Unthank & the Winterset - another favourite, Geordie folk music. One of our crew is always seeking Celtic music, and this was the closest she got this time around. We all loved the Unthanks, very cool girls with beautiful voices, providing translations of dialect where necessary, and judicious use of the 'safety cardigan' - worn over a strappy dress to avoid wardrobe malfunctions during vigorous clog dancing.

Speed Caravan - Algerian Mehdi Haddab plays his oud electric, we loved it, went back for more. The one in our group who normally likes his music heavy found most satisfaction here of all the womad acts.

Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara trio - Justin Adams is a guitarist who works with Robert Plant, I knew his name from the Festival in the Desert CD (how much would I love to go to that festival?). He has teamed up with Gambian griot Juldeh Camara who plays the ritti, a one-stringed fiddle. That's him in picture at the top of the page. I loved this show, bought the album, got it signed.*
Canberra girls
A workshop with the Andi & George girls - the three female singers were down for a workshop session - in this case they just took turns playing and singing their own songs, handing one guitar back and forth, and sometimes providing harmonies for each other. An absolutely lovely, intimate show, some great songs, and lots of love for Andi who is fairly new to the game herself but obviously a real encourager for others to give it a go. All very warming for the heart's cockles.

Black Jesus Experience - Australian based fusion group with Ethiopian and other African singers - good fun times.

Kaki King - she does a lot of different things with guitars, which I found interesting, cool, densely layered, and inexplicable by turns. She has serious pretty rock cred, and is obsessed with Australian netball players - it must be the appeal of tall athletic girls in skirts (else why wouldn't the basketball players in her native US thrill her so?).

Neil Finn - with his sons Liam and Elroy. Liam looked like he was having the most fun. It was a great show including songs from all parts of Neil's catalogue; I would have liked to hear a Liam song included (unless there was one and I missed it?)

* I actually went away from this signing a little bit (ridiculously) introspective about whether lining up to get something signed and telling the person "gee I really loved your show/book/whatever" is actually a nice opportunity or just a dispiriting failure to make a real human connection. This is a continuation of an ongoing conversation with myself. See I have this fantasy self who is outgoing and can actually make interesting connections with artists who mean something to me. And, you know, that fantasy self is not actually ME (a classic introvert).


Bells said...

Nice write up!

Someone else told me the Finn show just seemed wrong, like the music just didn't work and the vibe wasn't right etc etc. Interesting.

I have EXACTLY the same dialogue with myself. I always feel crushingly let down that I wasn't able to express myself to said idol and that I walked away feeling like it's not possible to express to said person just what the music means. Response to music is so very personal. Those 30 second conversations, even if you don't gush (which I think is best avoided) can't help but disappoint.

Fan said...

Ah Liv I know what you mean. I got a little buzz when said singer commented on my name..i get a couple of seconds of interest for having a curious name but that's it..and i'm silly and I didn't even get the whole group to sign when I had the chance oh one is enough for little old me kind of feeling...wouldn't want to impinge on your time - came away with a crocheted blue flower hair clip (eek)instead just because i liked the music so much. Hair pin made me look four years old but i liked to think of her making them. Made her a real live German folksinger who goes home in the evenings and crochets flower hair pins! The Beez are playing at the national folk festival! YAY I can add to my collection.