PREVIEW: WOMAD 2015 / BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage (July 24-26)

Yaaba Funk on the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage at WOMAD 2014
Photo Credit: BBC Radio 3

Percussionist BEX BURCH who runs the band Vula Viel will be reporting for us from WOMAD 2015. In this preview Bex writes about some of the acts that  she is looking forward to seeing and hearing - who will be mainly appearing on the BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage:

Acholi Machon

Acholi Machon (meaning Old Acholi) from Northern Uganda/ Southern Sudan perform in contexts ranging from a duo right up to larger group which “can swell to 15 members”, but I am very excited to see them. The background of the Acholi tribe, the wars and stories is fascinating. But what I hear in the album Lapwong (Freedom Fighters) are simple, everyday songs; fresh and relevant to the musicians. Beautiful thumb piano, African tuning, buzzing bottle tops, two harmonies repeating round with different riffs and songs to let go of the English stress of what you need to do tomorrow or what has happened yesterday, and just be in the cyclic music with Old Acholi!

17:00  Saturday - Ecotricity Stage
18.30  Sunday - BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage


Ibeyi, or really Ibeji, means twins in Yoruba, the Nigerian language their French/Venezuelan mother Maya Dagnino introduced to these French/Cuban sisters. Yoruba was imported to Cuba on the slave ships in the 1700s and the influence in the harmonies and, sparingly, in the words, on these percussive pop songs is beautiful. Having listened to the album, Ibeyi, and read about their take on the world, I’ll be interested to see the live act and hoping to check out the instrumental skills of both Naomi and Lisa on piano and Cajon.

20.30  Friday - BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage


Luzmilla from Bolivia learnt the daily songs of the Quenchua and Aymara people in the mountains and valleys of Northern Potosi in Boliva. Her songs were among the first popular Quenchua songs in the country at a time when Spanish and Westernization was in vogue.

She moved to Paris and was made Bolivain ambassador to France 2006-2010. Reading her story, I would love to meet this incredible woman and hear her many stories which cross continents, generations and cultures. So I am looking forward to hearing her ‘stories’ in song instead. An incredible voice and range, I am struck by the song, the range, yes, but also the picture Luzmila paints, mountains, echos, bare rocks in the highest clouds plunging to deep valleys with lush vegetation.

16:00  Saturday - All Singing, All Dancing
20.15  Saturday - BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage

Kakatsitsi. Photo reproduced by kind permission of African Drum Village


 Kakatsitsi!! The name alone takes me to Ghana, to the rhythms of the drummers, or the car horns or the shouting... Everything is rhythm, KA KA TSI TSI! In the polyrhythms of Ga music, Kpalengo, and the Agbedza Ewe rhythms Kakatsitsi play, each separate rhythm forms a whole, and there are no ‘off’ days with this science. Expect wonderful drumming and dancing, djembe slaps and call and response singing.

15:00  Friday - Molly’s Bar
12.00  Saturday - BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage

Noura Mint Seymali

Noura Mint Seymali has been the must listen to album of my neighbour this year and this is one woman who I definitely won't want to miss at WOMAD. I love her powerful voice, for me holding both the harshness of the Sahara (she was born in Mauretania) and the vastness too. She plays the ardine - a 9-stringed harp that is reserved for women! She too plays like a woman, the steady strength of an African woman living and singing in the desert.

13:00  Sunday - Open Air Stage
17:00  Sunday - World Rhythms

LINK: BBC Radio 3 Charlie Gillett Stage Line-Up
WOMAD is at Charlton Park near Malmesbury in Wiltshire. WOMAD website

Vula Viel

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