In a previous post, I said that the bulk of our evenings were spent running among five stages which totaled 15 bands each night. Of the 45 bands presented over the three evenings of the conference, we managed to hear at least one tune from just 15 of the bands. Let’s recap the best of these.
• I mentioned in the last installment how much we appreciated the performance of Dakh Daughters. They were the first band we caught, and their rank as one of the best of the event survived the remaining evenings. Look back at Part 3 of this blog for a description.
• I knew Waldemar Bastos (Angola) has a wonderfully smooth voice from his recordings. He is also a fine guitarist and I’ll make some effort to get him into our Global Revolutions playlist more often.
• Banda from Slovakia presented creative arrangements of Slovak folk tunes in a very pop-music style. They even referred to one piece as their “Abba” number. They carried a big sound with six members on two fiddles, cimbalom, drums, bass, and keyboard. The harmonies of the two female lead singers were spot-on.
• Jyotsna Srikanth and her trio Carnatic Nomad played a selection of Raga excerpts. Since the showcases are limited to 45 minutes, they chose the liveliest excerpts and had the entire audience in smiles.
• Osama Abdulrasol (Iraq) and his quintet (Belgium) presented new arrangements of some classical
Iraqi and other middle eastern songs. Their singer, Helena Schoetters, is a wonderful soprano who moves easily from classical to traditional voice styles.
• Marta Topferova and Milokraj (Czech) presented an intriguing mix of Czech and Latin pieces, both composed and traditional. Topferova spent 20 years in New York City performing and collaborating within the city’s Latin music community. Topferova gets frequent air-play on Terry O’s program (Diaspora, Thursdays 9am).
• Throughout all of WOMEX this year, I’ve been lamenting the lack of a performance by a Polish traditional band. The Polish bands so far have been great, but each has adapted traditional music into a mixed-genre, such as folk-classical, folk-jazz, and folk-punk. Finally, toward the end of the last evening of showcases, we discover Trio Wozniak. Violin, accordion, percussion, and lots of vocals. Finally, some Polish folk songs. There were dances too – mazurka, krakowiak, kujawiak, polka, and more. It was also great to see that many people knew the dance steps!
A final comment about the performances and it is one that I made strongly last year. The lighting of the artists from stage to stage was thoroughly bad. Front lighting was almost non-existent. Many artists played in the dark with the slightest back-lighting. Worse were the ones who played with bright, audience-blinding back-lighting. Others just had annoying light shows, as if the lighting tech was the one on stage trying to entertain the crowd. The rare time that the lighting was good, I went up to the lighting tech and extended a personal thank you.
Stay tuned for my next and last Blog on this year’s WOMEX with a discussion of the connections made at WOMEX and their relation to Madison and WORT.
Onto Part 5, the last of the series: WORT at WOMEX 2017 Part 5
In case you missed it, back to Part 3: WORT at WOMEX 2017 Part 3