Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Happy ears, pleasantly tickled brain
Donna Lee commented the other day "I find if I knit at an event, I always associate that event with whatever I was knitting at the time." Exactly! On the first evening of this year's Womadelaide, I was knitting during Calexico's set, and a man sitting behind us commented that I would always remember Calexico when I looked at that bit. (He was nice about it, but I never know what to say. Luckily there weren't many other comments, one or two admired the colours I think. Somewhat surprisingly, I only saw one other person knitting the whole long weekend). Anyway, that guy gave me this idea.
And here are the main acts I saw.
Kaurna Welcome - The festival always starts with the traditional owners of the land welcoming us to their country with song, and dance.
YAMATO, the Drummers of Japan
Athletic, loud, full of personality, lots of different drums (you can see them in the background of the photo above), and a nice gender balance to the show - they were fond of the small-woman-plays-huge-drum dynamic.
I saw them early on and really liked them. I had heard a song or two before but hadn't really paid attention - now I will be seeking out some albums. But, they were probably the loudest show I've ever seen at Womadelaide. When they were playing, they could be heard anywhere in the park, which was not ideal when you were trying to listen to one of the quieter acts.
Her personality and the personal stories she shared made this show really special.
From Western Sahara. I loved her music and her voice, bought the CD, she even signed it for me.
Cheeky and entertaining.
A new favourite for me. Very unusual combination (blues slide guitar, Indian tabla and Malian kora) that sounds great. They came to Canberra last week so I got to see them again. When I looked back at the program to write this post, I was sorry I missed a solo show by Mamadou Diabate as part of the festival.
My sister loved these guys.
I've known of her but for some reason never really figured out who she was. Her show was one of my favourites of the festival. It was delightfully nutty, with lots of stream of consciousness comments and asides (sometimes in the middle of a song). You had to love her or squirm - I fell in love.
We got all fired up and danced madly to this.
An improvised session with several of the female singers performing together. These (like the annual all-star jam) can be hit or miss - this one was great, at least the half I was there for.
Ross Daly & Ensemble
We chose to hear this wonderful Cretan music instead of big crowd-pleaser Tim Finn. And we weren't disappointed. (though I would have enjoyed Tim Finn as well).
Lovely singing. This was a workshop session and one of the singers loved to come down into the audience to give some dance lessons. I was glad to hide behind my big camera because I am quite the no-fun scaredy-cat when it comes to audience participation.
George Kamikawa & Noriko Tadano
A really fun and funny duo, some traditional Japanese songs and some blues covers, all done in blues styles, with guitar and Japanese banjo. Noriko was on 'Spicks and Specks' a while ago.
Lepisto and Lehti
Two very experienced folk musicians from Finland make an unusual combination of double bass and accordion and make it work. Really lovely music and good stories too.
Unfortunately people were leaving half way through to get good spots for Ravi Shankar, on next on the main stage. We stayed to the end.
Ravi Shankar & Anoushka Shankar
This was a sit-down show, unusual for Stage 1, but totally appropriate in this case. It meant I could arrive late, sit way up the back and still be able to see the stage. And the sound travelled perfectly. I hadn't quite known what to expect. There were a massive number of people there (not surprising really, probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most) and yet the mood was relatively quiet and meditative, in a really good way.
Besh o droM
I love gypsy styles and maybe built up my hopes too much for this set to be an end-of-festival high. We were a bit disappointed with the amount of switching of moods/styles of music and got a funny vibe like there was an odd mixture of moods among the band members too.