Here’s one last installment from WOMEX 2017 in Katowice, Poland. For me, the networking dimension of WOMEX was much bigger this year than the past two years. The trade show hall comfortably fit all 300 trade stands. One could easily roam from stand to stand, make new connections, or stumble onto old friends.
• Madison sent a contingent of eight persons to WOMEX this year, including myself. My wife, Paula White, represented WORT as a photographer for the event. Gloria Hays, a long time programmer at WORT and a member of the Pan Africa collective, was also a conference delegate. Bob Queen, representing the Central Park Sessions, was in attendance with his wife Nancy Kathman and two other Madisonians. Ankur Malhotra, a regular WORT contributor, was in attendance representing his company Amarrass records.
• A number of networking encounters were especially memorable. Piotr Piszczatowski from the JanuszPrusinowski Trio which has performed in Madison several times (including at the Madison World Music Festival) took me aside and told me how special it was to perform live in the WORT studio three years ago. He said he had held the preconception of America being big and corporate run and he was thrilled to see the local involvement at WORT.
• We met up with Bojan Djordjevic from Belgrade, Serbia who came to Madison with the Boban Markovic Orkestar on two occasions, including the very first Madison World Music Festival. Bojan spoke of touring with another brass band, the Dzambo Agusevi Orkestar in 2018. Let’s hope Madison is a stop.
• We met with Anna Hegedüs and Silvia Winkler from Fono Music Hall in Budapest during WOMEX 2015 which was held in Budapest. Fono is a combination concert hall, restaurant, folk dance hall, folk workshop center, and folk music record label. Fono has supplied many of the Hungarian CD titles that enter our radio playlists. It was a pleasure to catch up with the Fono representatives again and we intend to explore a more seamless method to access their CD titles.
• It was good to meet up with Maggie Babiarz, singer and musician from Poland, also known by her stage name Megitza. She currently lives in Poland, but lived in Chicago for a number of years. She made frequent appearances at the Magnus Bar in downtown Madison with her band, which included Andreas Kapsalis. Kapsalis still appears in Madison on occasion and I would recommend his outstanding guitar work. Babiarz is representing her new record label, Kaprol Music, which has signed the Polish woman’s singing group Dikanda which gave a spectacular show at the High Noon Saloon some years back.
• It was nice to see David Gaar so soon again. He is the U.S. agent for El Septeto Santiaguero from Cuba, and was in the WORT studio this summer during Global Revolutions’ live set from El Septeto, before their show at one of the Central Park Sessions. Gaar was at WOMEX promoting his new project with Elkin Robinson, a singer from Columbia.
•It was fun to catch up with several of the members of Mames Babegenush, a Danish Klezmer band which performed alongside Madison’s Yid Vicious several years ago in Argentina. They say “Hello” to all their Madison friends.
• Neal Copperman is one of the co-directors of Globalquerque, a world music festival in Albuquerque. We ran into each other at a restaurant in Krakow, about 60 miles from Katowice, a few days before WOMEX began. Globalquerque is part of a consortium along with the Madison World Music Festival that teams up to block book artists for the September festival season across several U.S. cities.
• Vox Sambou performed at the Madison World Music Festival just this September. We bumped into him at a downtown Katowice restaurant.
We made many new connections as well. We talked with several musicians from bands such as Oi Dipnoi from Sicily, Krzikopa from Poland, Maija Kauhanen from Finland, and the list goes on. I find this is one of the main benefits of WOMEX. No matter what your interest in world music, you can fill your time with exceptional experiences. Next year in the Canary Islands? If I recover in time.
(A big thanks to Paula White for editing this series.)