There is always so much happening in Adelaide during the summer, and WOMADelaide, located in the Botanic Park is arguably home to the most cosmopolitan, most culturally diverse, most colourful and most energetic of all these events. The festival itself is highly regarded, and with good reason. For almost 30 years, it has grown in size and reputation, providing a fabulous family friendly safe haven. Many set up camps for the weekend, returning daily to their tents over the four days.
With an abundance of acts that span the globe to choose from, many generous enough to play more than once, and in different guises, it can take a bit of coordination to navigate the festival program fully. While, as with any good festival, the surprises can be the highlights, The Plus Ones are here to help you sift through the extensive program. We have selected a few of our must-see bands, tents to venture into and roving acts to seek out. They are outlined below in the most democratic of orders: alphabetical.
Kathryn Joseph (SCOTLAND)
Watching Kathryn Joseph will be like bringing some of the best of the Adelaide Festival into WOMADelaide. Chamioned by Robert Smith and having supported The Cure along with Mogwai’s endorsement, Kathryn Joseph has some fans in high places. With a hauntingly beautiful Beth Gibbon’s style voice, and accompanying piano, you are sure to be captivated and transported away from the Botanic Park to another world. Maybe a few. Be sure to head to Moreton Bay Stage in time for take-off.
SAT 9:30pm Moreton Bay Stage
MON 8:30pm Moreton Bay Stage
KermesZ à l’Est (BELGIUM)
WOMADelaide would not be WOMADelaide without an irreverent Gypsy punk band to keep you moving. These guys are ticking all the usual boxes and bringing a few more. The fun starts at the Taste the World Tent on Saturday and will finish on Sunday at Stage 3. Reviews note their diverse style that crosses genres, all energetic, with the addition of ‘math rock’; not that you needed work out another reason to see them! So do your homework and come along to the party.
SAT 2:30pm Taste The World Tent
SUN 1:00pm Foundation Stage
MON 6:15pm Stage 3
Late Nite Tuff Guy (AUS)
WOMADelaide has a special way of keeping you dancing to the end of each and every day. On Friday, this honour will be left to Late Nite Tuff Guy. Guaranteed to keep your dancing feet movin’ and groovin’ so you can get home and be ready for the weekend ahead. Tuff Guy’s cheeky smile is as infectious as the disco tunes that will be mixed up and presented to the crowd. It will be a late night indeed, but a worthwhile one.
FRI 11:00pm Stage 7
L Subramaniam (INDIA)
Not only is Lakshminarayana Subramaniam a virtuoso violinist, but also a conductor and composer. He had had an impressive and prolific career spanning 40 years, providing film scores and progressing the violin as an instrument of peace through his recordings. Straddling the traditions of Western and Indian classical music, these seated concerts will be a real treat, and provide a perfect accompaniment at either the lunchtime or evening sessions.
SAT 1:30pm Stage 7
SUN 8:15pm Stage 3
Liniker e os Caramelows (BRAZIL)
We already know that Brazilian musicians have a way to make you move to their music like no others. While their music give generous nods to reggae and African rhythms, this eight piece Latin collective will maintain their Brazilian roots. Led by Liniker’s soulful vocals, the band will guide the crowd on a veritable musical dance lesson, through which we will be able to Samba, Coco and Forro!
SAT 8:30pm Foundation Stage
MON 2:00pm Stage 2
Marina Satti & Fonés (GREECE/SUDAN)
Greek-Sudanese singer-songwriter Marina Satti will be performing with her all female a cappella group. Renowned for their buoyant, vibrant and highly choreographed performances, Womadelaide is bound to get the perfect lunchtime lift to its Saturday. Mantissa was the soundtrack for many in Greece two years ago, and has had over 40 million views. There is still time to watch and join in the party!
SAT 1:00pm Stage 2
SUN 7:00pm Taste The World Tent
MON 8:30pm Stage 3
Mavis Staples (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
I have personally been chasing this blues and gospel singer iconic lady around the world for a year, missing her every time! At a mere 80 years old, she has been singing for the vast majority of them. Mavis has carved out a career that has been defined not only through her music (she has worked with the likes of The Blind Boys of Alabama, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and Los Lobos), but her civil rights work. Mavis makes you wonder how many ways you can mention ‘icon’ about her life and her work. This is must see for me, and should be for you too. I just wish we could sit down together and I could hear some of those stories.
MON 5:00pm Foundation Stage
Misstress Barbara (ITALY / CANADA)
Misstress Barbara will be lifting the roof off the Botanical Park on Saturday night. For over two decades, and having toured the world, working with the electronic titans such as The Prodigy, John Digweed and Bjork, Misstress Barbara is a heavyweight techno DJ with the lightest of touch that will feel the pulse of the crowd and keep them dancing until the gates close. This is the perfect way to finish off your Saturday.
SAT 11:30pm Stage 7
The Blind Boys of Alabama (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
Performing a group since 1938, that is a career of over 80 years to perfect some smooth and sultry gospel harmonies. They have performed with the likes of Ben Harper, Mavis Staples (see above), Michael Franti, Lou Reed, Prince and WOMAD’s founder, Peter Gabriel. This is an impressive group with an impressive career. They have won litany of awards and played some of the most prestigious venues in the world, including the White House. Perfect for both their Friday evening and Saturday afternoon slots.
FRI 6:00pm Foundation Stage
SAT 3:00pm Stage 2
The Planet Talks
WOMADelaide is a proud host to amazingly inspirational national and international speakers. In its own ‘Speaker’s Corner’ a wide range of truly remarkable people will engage the audience in a range of pertinent hot topics.
Christiana Figueres (COSTA RICA)
Christiana Figueres was directly involved in the Paris Agreement on climate change. She is now working on the Global Optimism and Convenor of Mission 2020 to reduce greenhouse emissions and reduce the effects of climate change. This is top down and bottom up stuff. Truly remarkable achievements in their own right, let alone together
Damon Gameau (AUSTRALIA)
Best known for That Sugar Film and 2040 Damon has proven himself to be one of Australia’s most successful documentary film makers. He has an amazing ability to make you realise that individually you can make a huge impact.
Patricia Karvelas (AUSTRALIA)
It is always good to put a face to a voice. ‘PK’ is a personal favourite of mine (and many other Radio National listeners) on RN Drive and keeping many a politician in check in The Party Room. Her distinguished career is a continual treat to all listeners.
Robert Elliott Smith (USA)
Big data, mega data, computer driven algorithms… these are just some of today’s buzz words. The ethics that surround these are hot topics too, and Dr Smith has been submerged in this field for decades. This is the guy you want to sit next to at a dinner party. Here we will be able to share that treat with fellow Womadeladians.
Around the Park
While there is much to seek out around the WOMADelaide site, there is a chance that it can find you too! The selection of artists found ‘around the park’ will help fill each and every square inch of the Botanic Park, at ground level an above.
As The World Tipped (UNITED KINGDOM)
In the evenings all eyes head skyward at around the Botanic Park as the entertainment turns to aerial acrobatics. As the World Tipped will literally raise the issues of the climate change, environmentalism and the politics behind them high, high above our heads. With jaw dropping aerial displays alongside music and visual projections, this is sure to a festival highlight.
Company Archibald Caramantran (FRANCE)
These towering marionettes are simply impressive. Not only are they hand built, but tower up to five meters high. Along with the humanesque forms, there is an antelope, a zebra and really utilising that height, a giraffe. Masterly controlled to dance to the music around the park, it is safe to say that when you find something to dance to, you could be in great company.
Gravity & Other Myths (GOM) (AUSTRALIA)
Performing A Simple Space, this seven piece Australian circus troupe simply rely on their skills and talent as acrobatic artists to amaze the audience. There is no makeup or sequinned costumes to hide behind. This is a pure representation of the limits of what humans can physically do. Enough to indeed make you wonder if gravity is a myth.
Taste the World
As a foodie, the Taste the World Tent is one of my favourite hangout spots in the whole park. The concept is so simple; get some of the festival’s amazing artists to cook a signature dish for the festival goers. They are able to demonstrate their culinary skills while being interviewed and playing an occasional tune. The sessions are generally fabulously unpredictable, sometimes intimate but always fun. As I said, this is one of my favourite places to hang out and I promise it will be an infectious favourite of anyone that finds it.
Just some of the artists and their respective cuisines this year are:
B.DANCE (TAIWAN), Destyn Maloya (RÉUNION), Gelareh Pour’s Garden (IRAN / AUSTRALIA), Luisa Sobral (PORTUGAL) and Minyo Crusaders (JAPAN).
Not only can you watch the amazing acts at WOMADelaide, but you can take part! In fact, you can interact with the world of ‘music’, ‘arts’ and ‘dance’ that give the festival its name!
A small selection of the opportunities include dancing with Felipe Rodrigues, learn about the traditional Ghanaian kologo with King Ayisoba, drumming with Orang Orang Drum Theatre, and sing with Tuuletar. Unique and amazing opportunities all round.
Any good family festival would not forget about the kids! Here in the Botanic Park there is a dedicated space to go, ensuring that no one will be left out. Dr Bronner will fascinate with bubbles that are probably bigger than your little one. Guru Dudu will take your children on a silent disco tour they will never forget (I have done the adult one, and I still remember it vividly!). SA Museum have an ‘explorers tent’ to bring (even more) to life the places that some of the artist hail from. It is fair to say that they, like you will not want to leave.
The last, and no less important mention should go to the catering on offer in the Park. The diversity is as far reaching as the acts that come to there. With so much to see and do, we will all be thankful for the refuelling that is on offer. My final top tip is simply to pace yourselves, and that includes the food! See you in the Park!
Duncan was the most illegible bachelor in town, but times have changed, although he is still a purveyor of Melbourne’s surprising, quirky, and cultural events.