Listen: WOMAD 2016 Artists

Taranaki once again plays host to WOMAD from 18 - 20 March this year. We know a lot of Aucklanders make the trip down for this unique music festival, so thought it would be worth recommending some acts that we're particularly excited to see.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

This South African vocal ensemble first became famous in the 1980s playing on Paul Simon's Graceland album. They've released over a dozen albums since (including the remarkable No Boundaries with the English Chamber Orchestra), but for many this will remain their signature song:

Songhoy Blues

The landlocked areas of West Africa have become famous for gritty, spiraling style of guitar playing and each year WOMAD seems to uncover a new group with a fresh take on this style. This year the slot is taken by Songhoy Blues from Timbuktu (Mali). The core members of this group were forced to relocate to the Southern capital of Bambako when a jihadist group took over the north of the country and imposed strict sharia law (which included banning cigarettes, alcohol and music). Their newly formed group soon gained an international following and their debut album, Music In Exile, was recorded by Nick Zinner (from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). The video below might induce motion sickness in a few viewers, but just hide the visuals if necessary and have a listen because it's a great example of the great music that's been coming out of that area of the world over the last couple of decades.

Edmar Castañeda

Castañeda's music might sound like a groove-based Colombian take on jazz, but if you actually see how he's creating the sound then you'll be amazed. What sounds like bass and acoustic guitar on first listen is actually just him playing a harp on his own. Even if this isn't your type of music then the musicianship on display needs to be seen to be believed.


For the last twenty years, Calexico have been creating their own, distinct Tex-Mex sound. Their latest album, Edge of the sun, was seen by many as a return to their best, with rave reviews from Pitchfork, Q Magazine and Uncut. Here's a track of the album that shows that the influence of Mexican horns and rhythms still provides the heart of their music:


The artists above are just some of the fine acts appearing this year and the overseas line-up also includes: Fela Kuti's son, Seun Kuti, bringing some Afro-funk; De La Soul sparking up the dancefloor with their catchy hip hop sound; and St Germain providing some great live jazz instrumentation over smoothly programmed beats.

I'd also recommend the combined set by Tiny Ruins and Bic Runga, during which they do versions of songs by Fleetwood Mac ("Dreams"), Simon and Garfunkel ("So Long Frank Lloyd Wright"), Yoko Ono ("Nobody Loves You Like I Do"), Love ("Andmoreagain"), and Donovan ("Wear Your Love Like Heaven"). Amazing to hear two of New Zealand's strongest female voices come together in beautiful harmony, especially when their taste in covers is so intriguing. And if that's not enough local talent, then you also have the chance to see soulful country singer, Tami Neilson, and an amazing new piece ("No Man's Land") by one of our finest contemporary composers, John Psathas.

Auckland Libraries also has the 2016 WOMAD compilation on order and you can check out the full list of artists over at the WOMAD website.

If you want to investigate the line-up further then check out the preview piecs by Trevor Reekie and Grant Smithies on Radio New Zealand or the great coverage by Graham Reid's website, Elsewhere.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 21 and is filed under ,,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

Leave a Reply