The speculation can be silenced, the murmurs muted. Because the wraps are now off and the line-up for this summer's WOMAD Charlton Park, the festival's ninth gathering in the glorious Wiltshire countryside and thirty-third festival in the UK. And wh
Last year's sell-out gathering was a tougher-than-tough act to follow, but we're delighted to reveal some of the serious big-hitting artists who will be setting their sat-navs for Wiltshire come late July. Everyone's favourite daisy-age rappers DE LA SOUL will be making their first-ever appearance on a WOMAD stage, hip-hop heroes ever since that epochal debut album 3 Feet High And Rising more than 25 years ago (gulp!). Their lyrical dexterity and good vibes will guarantee a classic Friday night at Charlton Park
While De La Soul are gracing us with their presence for the first time, a band of evergreen WOMAD veterans return to the site of former glories – TINARIWEN. The story of these freedom fighters turned rock'n'rollers is one of music's most captivating tales of the last decade - a heady journey that's taken them from the Sahara's lonesome plains to performing at the World Cup opening ceremony, their bluesy laments winning over the ears of Bono, Robert Plant et al along the way.
From a very different tradition – but adored by their admirers as much as TINARIWEN are by theirs – are BELLOWHEAD. Bringing a strong dose of theatricality to the folk music canon, the praise-strewn 11-piece's virtuoso playing and gripping songs are extraordinary. The Independent was certainly impressed, declaring that, “with the exception of The Who, Bellowhead are surely the best live act in the country”.
Of course, ever since the first gathering in 1982, WOMAD has been a byword for musical discovery, a place where a performance by a hitherto unknown artist may prove to be as enthralling as that by one of the headliners. This approach is upheld again this year, with your new favourite artist possibly among these Charlton Park performers...
Palestinian, Jordanian and Syrian collective with plenty of region-specific groove and who are very reminiscent of past WOMAD favourites Orchestre National de Barbes.
A band of former freedom fighters from the Acholi tribe of northern Uganda who’ve traded in their rifles for thumb pianos.
From a coastal village in Honduras comes the engaging troubadour Aurelio Martinez. His most recent record Landini (on the Real World label) was one of the top three albums of 2014 in the Sunday Times Culture magazine.
Musically promiscuous bunch of New Yorkers who venture stylistically from Brazil to Greece, via Colombia, Peru and France. Comedian Louis CK is among their admirers.
Veteran Brazilian singer (and history professor) who cut her first record at the grand old age of 73.
Zimbabwe-born Londoner whose extraordinarily soulful voice has the likes of Lauren Laverne and Jamie Cullum queuing up to heap praise on her.
Intriguing Tel Aviv-based soul/R&B diva who also draws deeply from her Ethiopian heritage.
Sandpaper-voiced blues-folk troubadour from Canberra.
Open-eared French quintet whose string-led North African/Mediterranean soundscapes are further coloured by some sharp jazz sensibilities.
Boisterous outfit from London Town who play (what they call) ‘gystep’ and who are fronted by Game Of Thrones star Natalia Tena.
Absorbing, North African-flavoured trip-hop/rock collision from the beating heart of Paris.
Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp
Swiss-based collective with an ear for the experimental. The crossroads where the music of contemporary Europe intersects with the music of contemporary Africa.
Sharply dressed multi-membered outfit from Osaka who speak the international language of super-tight funk.
Beautifully widescreen sounds from this Montreal six-piece who reach well beyond their native Quebec for musical inspiration.
Tradition-busting female kora virtuoso – a truly next-generation griot.
Young South London multi-instrumentalist/producer and purveyor of Gilles Peterson-approved, jazz-flavoured dubstep.
WOMAD isn't just about the weekend, though. For those early birds arriving on site ahead of the rest, Thursday night offers some exclusive treats. SHANTEL & BUCOVINA CLUB ORKESTAR is the scintillating, smile-inducing brainchild of Frankfurt DJ/remixer Shantel, who puts Balkan brass band music through the electronic mincer. The KALA CHETENA KATHAKALI COMPANY present the senses-pleasing amalgam of music, theatre and dance that is the sacred Indian kathakali art form. And there's the traditional curtain-raising collaboration between local Malmesbury schoolchildren and some top-flight musicians – this year the latter are represented by TOMORROW’S WARRIORS, whose massed horns evangelically push the gospel of jazz.
This is a mere taste of what's to come at WOMAD Charlton Park 2015. Just watch this space...
WOMAD is a feast of culture. Apart from experiencing the hottest musicians and inspiring new talent from around the world there is always much more to discover throughout the festival.
There is the popular Taste the World stage where some of the artists will show off their cooking prowess and Taste The World Restaurant will lay on sumptuous spreads of local, seasonal and completely natural food from all around the globe.
The All Singing All Dancing Tent will make a welcome return with firm favourites; the early-bird yoga sessions, sabar dance lessons and Japanese taiko drumming. In World Rhythms you can drum to your hearts content with the best drummers from around the world and listen to the musician very own inspirational stories.
The World of Wellbeing, located throughout Charlton Park’s lush arboretum, offers an oasis of treatments, therapies, discussions, workshops and spaces to simply get away from the bustle of the main arena. And for those who fancy a luxurious moment to themselves and a scrub up, the WOMAD spa, complete with treatments, spa pools, sauna, boundless showers and a cocktail bar, is the place to go.
WOMAD’s World of Art will once more see invited artists use the entire festival site as a giant canvass on which to create specially commissioned pieces and the World of Words to debate and discuss the things that matter in the world we live in.
Festivalgoers can experience the sights, smells and tastes of the festival’s diverse food traders, shop til they drop in the Global Market or simply enjoy the vintage rides at Carter's Original Steam Fair.
The dedicated kids zone World of Kids will be bursting with things to see with the usual wide-ranging programme of workshops, entertainment and activities around the theme Myths, Legends and Folktales from around the world. On Sunday afternoon the much-loved Children’s Parade, one of the festival highlights, will wind its way through the festival site. WOMAD continues its well established place as the best festival for the whole family, by allowing all children 13 years and under, in for free.
Published on 26 February 2015 by Ben Robinson