WOMAD 2017 – Hidden Treasures

One of the great pleasures of going to a world music festival such as WOMAD 2017 at New Plymouth is the opportunity to discover music and musicians that you never knew existed.  As part of our ongoing series, here are five acts that we’ve unearthed from around the globe, who are coming to this year’s WOMAD in March.


9Bach formed in 2005 thanks, all thanks to a chance meeting between Welsh singer-songwriter Lisa Jên (who’s also famous for her collaborations with Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys) and English guitarist Martin Hoyland.

The name, by the way, is a play on numbers and words.  That is: “9 is as in Nain, (pronounced nine), which means ‘grandmother’ in the North of Wales and; ‘Bach’, which means ‘little’.  Although it’s also a term of endearment in Welsh. In Welsh ‘Nain’ is a cozy, family-orientated, lovely thing, reckons Lisa, according to their website.  Put another way – Your grandmother is a person we can relate to and visualize.”

Whatever you read into that their sound is unique and unmistakable.  But also, contemporary.  Check out the video Pa Le?  It’s a modern celebration of the Welsh language vocals shimmering alongside swamp guitar, harp, rhythm section with a smattering of techno-help from a computer or two,

Their second album, Tincian, was described by UK online music mag The Line of Best Fit as “ripped through with transcendence; a brooding melancholy as much as a gossamer dreaminess”.  What more can you say?  Oh, yeah, it was voted Best Album at the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Awards by public choice.  Now on to their third album, Anian (Welsh word meaning nature, the natural order, natural morality, the natural world, creation ) is soulful, brooding with a critical look at the world in which we live.  And like WOMAD, it’s about how you connect with other people.


Check out:


Pa Lehttps://youtu.be/PF33OUkO8AU

Ana Tijoux

Listening to rap in another language is always a challenge but no matter the words you can always get the vide.  That would certainly be true of Ana Tijoux who choses ‘Rap en Español’, and is a voice of an entire female hip-hop genre in itself, breaking all barriers and connecting with audiences from different generations, backgrounds.

French born of Chilean exiles during the Pinochet regime, Tijoux became a household name in Chile with her first band, Makiza during the late 1990’s.  She also voiced the main character in the popular animated series Los Pulentos (Check out the youtube clip: Piantes – https://youtu.be/IB7b1yeBVzA

She went solo around 2006, quickly gaining fame throughout Latin America with a string of hits including the smash Eres Para Mi with Julieta Venegas.  But the world really began to take notice when she dropped 1977, an album full of classic beats and her signature flow that harkened back to the 90s and the golden age of intellectual hip-hop.  International accolades and Grammy nominations quickly amassed and its title track was highlighted in a much-heralded scene in Breaking Bad.

She followed that with the multi-nominated La Bala, a fiercely political album which spoke to the challenges facing Chile at the time, including the large student protest movements and the first right-wing President in over 20 years.  With its orchestrated arrangements and collaborations with Jorge Drexler and Los Aldeanos it totally raised the bar yet again for rap en español, propelling her into a more intellectual and indie world.

But it was her latest album, 2014’s Vengo, that has made her an international icon on the world rap scene.  Evolving from throwback 90s hip-hop beats to embracing a more pan-Latin and world sound, infusing folk instruments into a scene that had all but forgotten where it came from–the ghettos around the world.  Her message grew beyond the barrios of Santiago to embrace the common problems of humanity, from Juarez to Ramallah and everywhere in-between.  Touching on immigrant and poverty issues, motherhood, capitalism’s growing threats, indigenous pride, and gender equality, the album was a milestone in both its music and its message.   It’s the perfect anti-Trump antidote.  Rolling Stone magazine cited her SXSW performance as one of the fest’s best, while the New York Times called her “South America’s answer to Lauryn Hill.”  She won a Latin Grammy for her second collaboration with Jorge Drexler, her album was named Best Latin Album of the Year by NPR, and she performed at the 2015 Grammy Awards.  And in In Chile she is a legend.

See Para Mi Julieta Venegas y Anita Tijoux Video Oficial : https://youtu.be/I3tgeSgIdis

Somos Sur: https://youtu.be/EKGUJXzxNqc

Bebel Gilberto

World-renowned singer-songwriter Bebel Gilberto, is my personal favourite for this festival.  Sexy, suave and uniquely Brazilian she has the charm and pedigree of the famous singer João Gilberto with the modern sophistication to go with it.  She’s earned multiple Grammy nominations over the course of her career, captivating fans and earing media acclaim worldwide with her trademark electronic bossa nova.  She’s taken over clubs around the world and is one of the top-selling Brazilian artists in the U.S. Gilberto’s penchant for sonically transporting listeners to Brazil, with bright, incandescent bossa nova-infused melodies, lyrics about love, and a lilting performance style has earned her raves for her live performances.

Born in New York to Brazilian music icons João Gilberto and Miúcha her musical education was her childhood in Brazil, where she was surrounded by extended family including her uncle Chico Buarque and family friends like Milton Nacimento, Tom Jobim, Caetano Veloso, and João Donato.  She made her first recording at age 7.  Her influences are vast and eclectic and in addition to living and breathing all types of Brazilian musical styles as a child, she was exposed to the greats, from Debussy to Prince; Michel Legrand to Billie Holliday; Bjork to Gershwin.  She also has a strong love for North American soul; she discovered Donna Summer, Earth Wind and Fire, and Michael Jackson on the dance floor as a budding teenager. “The whole disco thing plays a big role in my heart,” says Bebel, who still loves to dance.

Now back in NYC, where she’s been since 1991, her present-day sound of electronic meets Brazilian began to crystallize. “Little by little, I learned what I wanted musically, I think there I became a New Yorker—with a Brazilian heart of course!”

Check out the very suave: Samba Da BenÇÃo                : https://youtu.be/4rlzdn9xk6c

Or Tranquilo : https://youtu.be/aw4cgYo2fsE

And Momento: https://youtu.be/yMWfV4sGZFY

The Village Warsaw Band

According to the band’s manifesto, the band was formed as a response to mass culture and narrow-mindedness, “which in fact leads to [the] destruction of human dignity.” Well, that’s what the interweb says, anyway.  Indeed, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the expansion of the European Union to most of the former Warsaw Pact countries, Poland’s economy has grown dramatically, while at the same time ushering in investment by a number of multinational corporations, leading to concerns of globalism and loss of Poland’s cultural identity.  So, in response, the Warsaw Village Band was created as a response to this trend by exploring Poland’s musical traditions and making them relevant to its new capitalist economy.

Band member Wojciech Krzak is on record stating that “after the nightmare of Communism, we still have to fight for our identity, and we know that beauty and identity are still in our roots… (we’re) trying to create a new cultural proposition for the youth in an alternative way to contemporary show-biz.”

Indeed the band’s name appears to evoke what troubles Krzak about Poland’s new capitalism: many large Polish cities do not have suburbs in the traditional sense, leading to unsettling transitions directly from city to field.

To this end, in Wykorzenienie (Uprooting), the band travelled throughout Poland to find and record older musicians who still played almost-forgotten styles of music, thereafter incorporating those melodies into new songs and expounding upon them.

The band also incorporate socially conscious folk lyrics in their songs. The song Kto się żeni (Who is Getting Married) on their second album, Wiosna Ludu (People’s Spring), discusses a young country girl who refuses to be married off, opting instead to “sing, dance, and be free rather than being dependent on someone.”

This really is deep-seated old school Polish folk.  The Warsaw Village Band have appeared at several international music festivals, including the 2005 Roskilde Festival in Denmark, the 2004 Masala Festival in Hanover, Germany, and the 2000 International Ethnic Music Fest in Germany.

See: Who is getting Married : https://youtu.be/bq5Tkj9KOGQ and

Maydówv : https://youtu.be/4iurT7zkHDc

The Specials

This year’s WOMAD crowd pullers and hailing from the industrial city of Coventry, this multi-racial seven-piece rose to fame in 1977 during the angry, disaffected years of Thatcherite Britain as an alternative voice but a collaborative force with the emergence of punk.  Their ‘wind-your-waist’ sensibility of ska and reggae went on to define a particular moment in British pop music.  With the emergence of Jamaican culture in Britain it also informed British acts like the Clash who took notice of the scene and the xenophobia of the day.  As a band, it was a mercurial two and a half years.

Then they split, leaving behind seven top ten singles (two No.1’s) and two top five genre-defining albums. Their first single, Gangsters, released on their own 2tone label in 1979 (home of The Selector and The Beat), was their calling card and Ghost Town, their swan song, which encapsulated the political mood in Britain.  In between was a larger-than-life reputation for killer sweat-drenched live shows and an attitude that walked like it talked.

Since then, they’ve reformed (in 2008), and have performed at over 200 shows worldwide including Coachella, The Letterman Show, Summersonic, Fiji Rocks (Japan), Benecassim (Spain) and Lalapalooza and the Byron Bay (Australia).  Back in the UK they closed the Olympic Games festival in Hyde Park.

Tim Gruar

See: ghost Town : https://youtu.be/RZ2oXzrnti4 and

Gangsters: https://youtu.be/QgIr7E5LvpA and,

A Message to You, Rudy : https://youtu.be/cntvEDbagAw?list=RDcntvEDbagAw

Also, check out the documentary Two Tone Britain: https://youtu.be/ueMDcBp5tQU

WOMAD 2017 – The World’s Festival – 17- 19 March 2017 – New Plymouth

Go to https://www.womad.co.nz/