WOMADELAIDE 2012: Staggeringly Good


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March 24th 2012
Published: March 24th 2012
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WOMADELAIDE 2012: Staggeringly Good.

Denise saw our luggage on the carousel at Adelaide Airport...headed for it...tripped over someone's foot...and recorded the following:

"Got in a tangle with Baaba Maal, famous Senegalese rock star at Airport.

I said "Sorry Honey" as I accidentally squeezed his bicep and chipped my nail polish on my left big toe.

I think he felt my pain.

...Laila the Taureg."

Later we met him again...at Womadelaide...Baaba Maal looked at me, smiled and said "I remember you"...I had to laugh...always nice to be remembered..!

Our first visit to WOMAD...the brainchild of Peter Gabriel...the World Festival of Music, Arts & Dance...in OZ kicked off in 1992 in Adelaide's Botanic Park......now in its 20th year...Adelaide's Womad reputedly the best in the world...and by attending...I can see why.

Our visit was over a year in the planning.

Those who are familiar with my blog Our Tuareg Wedding...Festival Au Desert...Timbuktu, Mali may recall a man walked into our encampment...and asked "Are you David Hooper?"...blow me over with a feather...its Peter Jensen...an old classmate from 40 years ago in Sydney.

In the course of inviting him to the wedding...offerring him as a ransom to the Tuaregs to
BAABA MAALBAABA MAALBAABA MAAL

Senegal
get my wife back...or listening to fabulous music in the sanddunes...Peter invited us to Womadelaide...in his home town.

Saw him again at our 40th school reunion in Sydney...committed we would attend in 2012.

Then we saw that Tinariwen were coming to Womadelaide...we are definitely going.

At the Festival au Desert in 2011...advised due to a family tragedy...Tinariwen were unable to come...the crowd understanding but disappointed...they the top Tuareg band.

Liaised with Mike & Ros...our travel mates in Mali & Ethiopia..."Tinariwen are coming"..."OK, We'll come from Brisbane"...bingo...time for a reunion.

After three months of rain in Sydney, we had four days of sunshine in Adelaide...wandering the expansive grounds...with 20,000 others each day...peace...love...and fabulous music...the friendliest Festival we have ever attended...incredibly well organized...catering for all needs...a pleasure to be part of.

Music from Mongolia, Senegal, UK, Cambodia, France, USA, Spain, Japan, Cote D'Ivoire, Scotland, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Seychelles, Jamaica, Fiji, Philippines, South Africa, Italy, Palestine, Romania, Burundi, Germany, Chile, Solomon Islands, Pakistan, Ireland, India, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tibet, Mali, Brazil, Korea and Australia...the World has come...and we are there..!

Seven stages...spaced well apart...various sizes from huge to more intimate...some in open space...others in quiet dells...shade from massive trees interspersed.

But it wasn't just music...there were foods from around the globe...Coopers Pale Ale...rivals my favourite drop...stalls selling all sorts of collectables...from fashion accessories made from recycled inner tubes...to glass orbs...to the Festival CD shop...only bought 13 CDs...some signed by the artists...bingo...even got a copy of the Rokia Traore CD I had bought in Mali that was unplayable...I'm listening to it now..!

And there were the "causes"...including Independence for West Papua...Water & Eco-systems...Reconciliation issues of indigenous Australians, presented to me by a man from Sudan (why not a local?)...Women's rights in Egypt...and an arrangement between indigenous Australians and the Tibetan community (Better World Arts: Cross-Cultural Projects) whereby indigenous designs are sent to Nepal to be incorporated into rugs, cushions and umbrellas.

Spent some time with the last one...Tibetan monks from Dharamsala making a multi-coloured sand mandala...while indigenous women spun coloured wool for monks and children for sky weaving...presided over by the ever friendly Tenzin Choegyal...always greeting us and chatting like old friends whenever we dropped by.

Den & I stayed at the Crowne Plaza...and so did a lot of the Bands...carrying instrument cases of every shape imaginable...definitely the place to
STAFF BEMBA BILINISTAFF BEMBA BILINISTAFF BEMBA BILINI

Democratic Republic of Congo
stay.

DAY ONE

Our WOMAD kicked off with the Master Drummers of Burundi...11 powerful men...tribal dress...9 drums of hollowed tree trunks & cowhide ...exciting, evocative drumming, leaping...and the broadest smiles you will ever see...I'm in Heaven...saw them 3 times..!

Staff Benda Bilini from DRC...means "look beyond appearances"...street musicians from Kinshasa...frontmen in wheelchairs and one on crutches...able bodied rhythm section...extraordinary energy, enthusiasm, exciting, powerful hypnotic music...with the unusual piercing strains of a one stringed electric tin can...rocked my socks off each time...biggest smile I have ever seen when I shook the hands of the one in army fatigues..!

Cambodian Space Project...psychedelic Khmer-rock from the jungles of Cambodia...to me as if a phoenix had arisen from the ashes of the killing fields...notwithstanding Pol Pot had tried to kill off the musical culture in that country.

Chic from USA...having one massive dance party...amazed he had written songs not only for himself...but for some of the popular music greats.

Tinariwen from Mali...Desert Blues...only four of the band of 6 to 8 making the trip...two in refugee camps in Sthn Algeria at this moment...trapped by the Tuareg uprising in Mali...helped out at Womadelaide by Lo Jo...a French band that
GRACE BARBEGRACE BARBEGRACE BARBE

Seychelles
together with Tinariwen started the Festival au Desert...me centre second row from the stage...Den, Mike and Ros behind me...savouring the moment. They played to 1.15 am...extended set.

I'm Tabala tonight...and Denise is Laila...our Tuareg names...and Mike & I walking back to our hotels in our Tuareg blue 5 metre cloth headpieces...probably look like gooses...but at Womadelaide...not really out of place..!

DAY TWO

Grace Barbe from the Seychelles...Afro-Kreol...a blend of mesmerising rhythms...had a dance...even a chat with Grace backstage...thanks to her sister Joelle (percussion)...who I had met at our hotel.

Met up with Peter & Rosie after Dobet Grahore from Cote d'Ivoire...and met their friends...each time I saw Peter... the air of someone proud of his home turf...his Festival...and rightly so..!

Peter & Rosie went off to see First Aid Kit from Sweden while Denise went somewhere else...and I got waylaid at one of the surprises of the festival...Narasirato from the Solomon Islands...high energy bamboo pan-flutes, bamboo drums & vocals...by powerful warriors...a culture of 75 generations...exciting rhythms.

Pajama Club...a real family band...Neil Finn from Crowded House fame with his wife & three sons...Neil looking mighty pleased with his brood.

And again...Tinariwen...and more camel dancing..!

I met Tinariwen later...signed their latest CD...got there just in time...hugged me as they left...disappearing into the night...their exotic bou bous swishing...makes me feel like I'm back in Mali...in the sanddunes...with the Tuareg.

Met a lot of people like those you would expect on Travelblog...travellers to exotic locales...chatting to us about travelling...music...this and that...coming up and saying "Hi" throughout the Festival...chatting each time we stopped for a feed...even a guy who had been at the Festival Sur Niger at Segou in Mali...only two weeks before..!

Even had a chat with some of Baaba Maal's band at the Festival about the problems in Mali and the future of the Festival au Desert.

And a guy with a Malawi T-shirt...had a good laugh...his baby daughter trying to impress.

DAY THREE

Early start...midday...had to attend a workshop with the Master Drummers of Burundi...someone has to do it..!

Chris Finnen...master blues guitarist from Adelaide...smaller stage...my kinda music.

Tete from France of Senegalese & Martinique heritage...solo performer...stage surrounds packed out.

Gurrumul...indigenous OZ singer/accoustic guitarist...born blind..."I was born blind and I don't know why"...he sang...one of the World's most beautiful voices...previously part of Yothu Yindi and the
CHRIS FINNENCHRIS FINNENCHRIS FINNEN

Adelaide, Australia
Saltwater Band. I was moved by the gentleness and reverence to the man from his "muse" Michael on double bass...mesmerising performance...thousands watching...sit down only on the grass affair...no one allowed to stand...no one not extremely moved by the experience.

Nano Stern & The Sindicato from Chile...fusing traditional Latin & European folk music with modern rock, folk & jazz...the longest queues for him to sign CDs...that I saw at the Festival.

Baaba Maal from Senegal...Artist in Conversation...interviewed on stage...insight into the man...a mover & shaker in Africa...for the rights of women, the underprivileged and HIV sufferers in his role as Youth Emissary for the United Nations.

He told a story how it all began.

His people were Felani...nomads of the Sahel & Sthn Sahara...he was not a griot (the musician & storyteller caste)...but inspired by them...and his mother...(Denise likes him as he really loves his Mum)..!

His father was a caller to prayer at the local mosque. Baaba had a good education...always thankful to his parents for that...was musical from an early age...encouraged by his mother...but not his father who disapproved of secular music...a musical career for Baaba...clearly a no-no.

He secretly recorded some music that started to receive airplay.

He went home one day...greeted sternly by his father.

"Come here. I need to talk to you. That music now playing on the radio...IS THAT YOU I can hear singing?"

"Yes Dad"...head down...expecting the worst.

"You know I disapprove...but the words provide a good message...Well...if you only play music with that sort of message...you have my approval."

The rest is history...16 albums/CDs later...I'm looking forward to seeing you on stage tomorrow.

The Barons of Tang...a head-banging band from Melbourne...frenetic leaping around the stage...crowd predominately young...discouraged from crowd-surfing.

Saw one of the band limping back at our hotel...asked her if in her frenzy stabbing the crowd with her sax...she had stabbed herself in the leg.

"No...I'm having trouble wearing in these new boots."

Den gave her some magic tape for blisters...she'll need it for her next gig.

I'll have to tell my son Simon to look out for them when they visit Toronto in Canada on their world tour in June.

Left Den at The Barons of Tang and infiltrated the left front of stage for another dose of Staff Benda Bilini from Democratic Republic of Congo...massive crowd...everyone dancing where I was...had to join in...one of the singers...the one they call "The Best Dancer in Kinshasa"...out of his wheelchair...dancing on stage...no legs...shunning disability...love the joyful enthusiasm of this band...their vibe infectious.

The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain...about 30 in formal wear...from classical to rock..."intricate melodies, simple tunes and complex chords...from pompous and trivial to moving and amusing"...got to love the variety at Womadelaide.

DAY FOUR

I had to have another dose of the Master Drummers of Burundi today...got to indelibly imprint their rhythms into my memory...hope I can reproduce them one day...maybe around a camp fire.

Den to The Bearded Gypsy Band...young dudes from OZ...no beards...incredibly talented...they blown away by the size of the crowd and its appreciation.

With The Amazing Drumming Monkeys playing in Kidszone...yep...they have a comprehensive kids program...we headed to one of the outer stages...nestled in a leafy hollow...for a band that was a true highlight of the Festival.

The mesmerising Le Trio Joubran from Palestine...three brothers from the holy city of Nazareth...exponents of the ancient lute known as the oud...together with a percussionist whose skills were so subtle that he could make sounds by clapping his hands that we have never heard before.

Three brothers with ouds...each set to a different tone...the clear notes dancing around each other like an exotic dance...emotion plus...from a people desperate of a homeland...we could feel their pain...the music...sublime.

Hung around after...absorbing...sufficient time for a band to kick off on a nearby stage that were simply outrageous...and demanded a look...The Bombay Royale..."a mixture of funky, bizarre and mysterious music" from 1960s & 1970s Bollywood soundtracks...made it one hell of a fun show...pretty whacky...brilliantly performed.

Two more bands to see...both headline acts...only one gig each...time to find out why.

Johnny Clegg from South Africa...another highlight..."the white Zulu"...celebrating 30 years of live performances...never hear his music on the radio...he said...some of it at one time banned in his homeland...he being a white guy "outspoken on issues of apartheid, racism and perspectives on migrant workers in South Africa"...dancing like a 20 year old with a young Zulu...and with his Zulu sister (who has been in the band for 25 years)..!

We want to see Lo Jo at Stage 3...but prefer to grag a beer & cider...and get in early...to get a good possie near the front...for the show
BAABA MAALBAABA MAALBAABA MAAL

Let the show begin
everyone has been anticipating over the past 4 days...expecting the crowd to be massive...and it was...for the man whose foot Denise tripped over at the Airport...Baaba Maal from Senegal.

I have an extensive collection of African music...my training for and since the Festival au Desert...mainly Malian...some Senegalese...only one Baaba Maal CD...hadn't grabbed me...time to find out why his is the headline act to close the Festival.

This is afterall...Womadelaide's 20th Birthday...and its bound to end in music fireworks.

Music speaks to us in many ways...sometimes it brings back memories...sometimes takes us to places previously unknown...conducting our moods...sometimes appreciated from understanding the music by first seeing & hearing it live.


And so it was with Baaba Maal...now a firm favourite...have 3 of his CDs now...simply brilliant...yep...brilliant!

The show started with Baaba as if in prayer...with the female dancers behind...their arms moving as if Baaba had many arms...Baaba rising...the music swelling...opening his arms...his gold & copper bou bou expanding and flowing...like shimmering wings...just standing there...arms extended...God-like...yep...you've got my attention.

And then it took off...the best live show I have ever seen...thought it at the time...now on reflection I still think that...and I've seen many cracker gigs in my time...many world renowned bands & performers...but none like what Baaba Maal's band turned on that night.

Twelve on stage...all extensively highlighted...two beautiful female dancers (changed costume after every song)...a
BAABA MAALBAABA MAALBAABA MAAL

Senegal
male dancer, electric guitars, percussions, djembe & other tribal drums, my mate Hilaire Chaby on keyboards and my other mate Aliou Diouf on drums...Baaba Maal as the Conductor and lead vocalist...and at times...lead dancer...God-like in poise and presentation.

I have been wondering how I would express his God-like aura on stage...the term "Rock-God"...gives the wrong image...but..."God-like in poise and presentation"...pretty well sums it up.

But the messages he conveyed were in the spirit of servitude...or was it sharing...or impressing equality...bringing all the band members to prominence...holding the microphone for them...issues of women's roles, petty jealousy, foregiveness, reconciliation...understanding of words not necessary.

For the encore...there had to be an encore...he brought on persons in the wings who I presumed were organisers of the Festival...their moment to dance & celebrate...a cracker of a Festival.

I'm still breathless thinking about it..!

Relax & Enjoy,

Dancing Dave (looking forward to seeing you all next year).


Additional photos below
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For Dave & Merry Jo Binkley...you were asking..!
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Made from inner tubes...Simply brilliant
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24th March 2012

Oh...now I'm really jealous :P
Why is that music can bring the World together, yet dialogue can't? I'll have to put you together with another of my Australian friends who is also incidentally called Dave and lives in Sydney. His son plays in an amazing band called Watussi which is a blend of South American vibes and other diverse cultural influences :)
24th March 2012

THANKS NICK
Watussi are a name I know...but not seen...happy to have Dave's contact. Got to say I never dreamed I'd be into World Music a few years back...but there is so much good music out there...got to give it a try...another plethora for my musical experience. Do you get into Vietnamese bands...bound to be some good ones?
24th March 2012

:)
His son's name is Simon Olsen and he either sings the lead vocals or can be found on bass. Actually, I seem to remember that he has now moved onto other things with a band called The Electric Empire. Anyway, if you get the chance, check him out on You Tube or the like, he is one cool, rockin dude :)
24th March 2012

Wish I was there!
This sounds as if was a truly wonderful festival, as your purchase of 13 new CDs attests! So for the novice listener, which one Baaba Maal CD do you recommend?
24th March 2012

FOR SHANE
Baaba Maal's CD "Television"...great groove. Do yourself a favour and get any Rokia Traore CD...beautiful in any language. And you must have "Gurrumul." I'm looking for Le Trio Joubran's latest...sold out at the Festival...not surprised. Relax & Enjoy...great for the soul.
24th March 2012

It must have been staggeringly good!
It surely must have been a staggeringly good festival to attend because the incredibly descriptive blog was itself staggeringly good! Great job, Dancing Dave.
24th March 2012

THANKS CAREY
Maybe you need to join us there next year...a bit of culture...good for the soul!
24th March 2012

We are big music fans and wish we could have joined you.
Let's plan to meet at some day in the future at a music festival. We will purchase the CD's you recommended for Shane. Music allows you to understand a culture. What an experience! Loved the bicycle. And...yes...the question remains, art or transportation. Hope you will post it.
24th March 2012

THANKS DAVE & MERRY JO
Meet at a music festival...now that's an idea...you in USA...we in OZ...meet halfway...how does Blues on the River in Senegal sound?
27th March 2012

WOMADELAIDE 2012
Hi Dave, Thank you for sending this link to your entertaining article and all those fabulous photos. There are some really great portraits within the folio there. So glad you enjoyed our small part in the great WOMADelaide, I will forward your link to WOMADelaide staff so they can also get a pat on the back. They truly deserve it. All the best Carolyn Kind regards, Carolyn Wilson Better World Arts 144 Commercial Road Port Adelaide 5015 South Australia t: 61 8 8240 3373 f: 61 8 8240 2411 www.betterworldarts.com.au
27th March 2012

THANKS CAROLYN
Hi Dave, Thank you for sending this link to your entertaining article and all those fabulous photos. There are some really great portraits within the folio there. So glad you enjoyed our small part in the great WOMADelaide, I will forward your link to WOMADelaide staff so they can also get a pat on the back. They truly deserve it. All the best Carolyn Kind regards, Carolyn Wilson Better World Arts 144 Commercial Road Port Adelaide 5015 South Australia t: 61 8 8240 3373 f: 61 8 8240 2411 www.betterworldarts.com.au
14th April 2012

Last night, we listened to Baaba Maal's 'Television' . . . as you say, "brilliant" and, wow, what a groove! Listening to them live must be a whole 'nother level of existence. Thanks so much for sharing.
14th April 2012

TELEVISION
I still can't believe we left that CD for you guys in a taxi...also Vieux Farka Toure's "Live"...but glad you could get a copy of Baaba Maal's "Television" (from Senegal)...Turn it up...and enjoy the groove. We saw two Senegalese bands last night celebrating Senegal's Independence Day...dreaming of that country as a destination one day..! If you want to hear some cracker CDs from Senegal...try Nuru Kane's "Number One Bus" & "Sigil"...guaranteed to blow you away.
17th April 2012
PHIL THE ORBLER

Staggeringly good photography
Hey Dave Thankyou very much for this image. I remember that you took a shot of me from low with the Orb on my forehead. Do you still have that? Could you email it to me? Have fun with your next adventures! Thx Phil

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