Tuesday, May 15, 2018

In throat, in palate, in tongue, in teeth, in lips

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So, day three of Womadelaide 11 March 2018. On Sunday we got ourselves organised and timed a visit to the Adelaide Zoo perfectly so we could not only see the pandas but also hear the keeper's daily talk. Highly recommended. I wrote more about this on Instagram.

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Hana and Jessie-Lee's Bad Habits - a country two-piece based in Adelaide and Melbourne, highly anticipated by locals in the know. They brought a collective of musicians and singers to make up a pretty full stage, majority women, and it was a kick-arse show. I wish I had gotten better photos and paid more attention to hats popping up in the front row - it was the hats (and boots) on stage that I really wanted to capture. Anyway I loved the song and bought the CD and even got it signed.

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I don't want to forget that I also stopped and listened to Jessie Lloyd's Mission Songs Project (I just took crap photos, unfortunately). This show highlighted songs written in the missions and settlements that Indigenous Australians were moved onto. The songs are mostly from the early to mid-20 century, sung in English (sadly by then the only language for many people), one of those interesting complicated bits of history that show there's always much more to it than the headlines. I think the idea was these songs had been overlooked as, I guess, inauthentic in terms of Aboriginal culture, but of course they are brimming with contemporary accounts of living through the dispossession and Stolen Generation(s) - and still completely relevant.

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On to one of my most anticipated acts for the weekend, Tinariwen. I think I first heard of this group of Tuareg musicians - former solders - when I got hold of the Festival in the Desert CD many years ago. I hope one day the organisers will be able to bring the festival back (the last one was 2012, after which security in Mali really became too unstable for it to continue.)

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I had actually seen Tinariwen at Womadelaide once before, in 2012. At that time they were missing two band members who were not able to leave Mali during the Tuareg rebellion.

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And Victoria Hanna. A fascinating combination of rebellion, intellectualism, mysticism and incredible singing and music. The program notes say interesting things - she comes from an ultra Orthodox family in Israel, a woman certainly not raised to sing on stages around the world. Apparently getting into singing helped with a stammer. But I didn't really need to know these things to be drawn in immediately by her stage presence and voice, and her ability to share with the audience her fascination with words, language, the Hebrew alphabet, Jewish prayers. It felt like she was building on her heritage in a really interesting way. And I loved the chemistry she had with the band as well.

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The Manganiyar Seduction was an incredible show. The Manganiyar are a folk musician caste from Rajasthan, India, and the music would have been enough, but the unusual staging and lighting really made this wonderful. The picture above is from the finale.  


The show starts with the stage dark. Then the curtains on a single box open and the lights go on. The curtains covering each 'cell' only open as each musician or singer joins the piece, starting with just one stringed instrument player (I think this was kamaicha) and gradually building with more players and then singers and drummers joining in. Because each box is lit only when that person is playing, this lighting and staging combination echoes the intensity of the music and highlights the orchestration and all the different instruments. 


(I have *lots* of photos of different configurations, but I'm sure you get the idea.)


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