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03 août 2007

KARKWA : Une soirée de plaisir

De nos jours, on s'attend à un tas de choses en arrivant sur le site d'un spectacle, mais pas à voir le batteur du groupe en tête d'affiche t'accueillir à l'entrée, cinq minutes avant d'entrer en scène.

C'est pourtant ce qui s'est produit hier, au premier des trois spectacles en résidence de Karkwa au Club Soda. En conversation avec les collègues Olivier Robillard Laveaux et Marie- Hélène Poitras, nous nous sommes mis à jaser avec Stéphane Bergeron, un peu nerveux, qui nous a expliqué que le groupe avait dû scinder son spectacle acoustique en deux à la dernière minute, en raison de l'absence d'une première partie et de l'obligation d'avoir un entracte. N'empêche, on trouvait qu'il était bien osé d'être là cinq minutes - mais vraiment cinq minutes!- avant l'entrée en scène.

Mais voilà, à concept acoustique, concept de mise en scène. Quand Louis-Jean Cormier s'est installé pour amorcer La Fuite, tout seul sous un unique projecteur, on a compris...Julien Sagot s'est joint à lui avant la fin de la chanson, mais Karkwa a graduellement accru son personnel sur scène, durant près d'un quart d'heure, d'une chanson à l'autre, donnant de plus en plus de densité à son volet acoustique.

Karkwa: les tremblements unplugged

Une telle livraison oblige le chanteur à être plus solide que jamais et les instrumentistes à être soudés au maximum, les filets de protection nommés dissonance, distorsion et volume n'étant plus là pour palier aux erreurs.

Jour nouveau

Franchement, même si on sentait qu'il n'y avait pas toujours de zone de confort, Karkwa n'a pas démérité. Que ce soit avec La Marche, Le Solstice - une composition basée sur un poème de Pierre Neveu, durant laquelle le pianiste François Lafontaine a tiré les marrons du feu -, où pendant M'empêcher de sortir, les enrobages dénudés ont permis de découvrir les chansons sous un jour nouveau, comme on l'a fait pour Malajube plus tôt cette semaine, quoique le décalage était moins prononcé.

Karkwa s'était aussi entouré d'amis. Fred Fortin est venu rejoindre Cormier et tous ses collègues pour une livraison de Pili-Pili qui avait l'air d'un formidable blues sale sorti du Delta du Mississipi. On a même eu le temps d'apprécier le travail du quatuor à cordes Cartier avant d'aller rédiger ces lignes. De retour ce soir, pour la livraison Sons et images et une autre soirée de plaisir.

Du plaisir, on en a eu au centuple avec Émilie Simon qui avait droit à l'un des derniers Spectrum remplis à ras bord. Un Spectrum qui délirait quand elle offrait (à la Fender) Fleur de saison; quand elle nous faisait vibrer de la pulsion de Opium, ou quand elle chantait sa version en deux tempos de I Wanna Be Your Dog. Et muet comme une carpe suis-je resté pour savourer jusqu'à la dernière note sa nouvelle reprise de Mercy Street de Peter Gabriel, ou une version belle à en pleurer de Chanson de toile, titre qu'elle n'avait pas interprété depuis des années. Magnifique!

Philippe Rezzonico Le Journal de Montréal

National Geographic Ventures Launches Music and Radio Division

Washington - National Geographic Ventures (NGV), a unit of the National Geographic Society that creates and distributes the organization's content across multiple platforms, said on Thursday that it has launched National Geographic Music and Radio (NGMR).

The new division, headed by former Palm Pictures President David Beal, will distribute and promote National Geographic's music through various platforms including radio, TV, films, magazines and digital media.

It also will oversee the production of projects from artists actively involved in environmental and cultural issues, including Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and Peter Gabriel. NGMR launches with several distribution partners, including Clear Channel, Salem Communications and NPR.

"Music is an integral part of history and culture and brings geography to life," said Beal. "Through our various units, we will be able to create an emotional connection for our listeners with the planet." Beal recently worked with National Geographic on the launch of its site.

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02 août 2007

Where the real thing clings on

At the muddy rock festivals and the low-budget pub gigs, you can hear something that doesn't come off a computer

To the Womad festival, with the wellingtons. By the time we arrive vehicles are being towed on to the site, so God alone knows how they're going to get out. It's the 25th anniversary of the World of Music Arts and Dance spectacular and the 5,000-acre Wiltshire estate is a sea of glutinous mud.

Couples force buggies across the claggy terrain while attempting to dance to the Congolese drummers behind them. I ask Sunday Times rock critic Robert Sandall where the press tent is and he points across the mire: "Past the gun emplacements at Tyne Cott, left at the ridge, third crater on the right."

With record sales plummeting, the live arena is now where the money is, and people are happy to pay handsomely for an "authentic" experience that can't be copied on a computer. Such as watching musicians perform. Even when standing in a puddle.

In its new location, Womad is a colourful collision between lovers of world music and local gentry on a bender - indeed the Caribbean Food Shack rubs shoulders with La Grande Bouffe gourmet pancake tent. The music-lovers are watching the Malian lute legend Bassekou Kouyate and his ensemble Ngoni ba, and the aristos are flooring beakers of warm white wine and dressing their daughters in little fairy wings and T-shirts that say "Elf & Safety".

I flag down a charismatic gent in sturdy outdoor clothing, unmistakably the 21st Earl of Suffolk and owner of the 17th-century pile at the end of the drive. Rock festivals are a major revenue source for country estates - Balloch Castle, Henham Park, Leeds, Cornbury, Blenheim - and the party is effectively on the old boy's lawn. How is it going?

"Wonderfully well - but it's made an awful mess of my landing strip!" He indicates a swath of grassland chewed by lorries, and a Piper Dakota in a hangar.

Strolling out of an adjacent tent is Womad pioneer Peter Gabriel, on stage in just over an hour. I made a radio documentary about the first event in '82 - recording vegetarian food vendors (a novelty) and sitar players in teepees - and I interviewed Gabriel, a world music evangelist and the former lead singer of Genesis. And here we are 25 years later. "Well yes, we introduced the world to the world," he waves towards the acres of throbbing tents, "but that first festival was a financial disaster. I got death threats from people who were owed money. I was the only fat cat to be squeezed, I suppose."

The latest beneficiary of Gabriel's cash is a "personal recommendation engine" called Filter, demonstrating under canvas behind him. Download his software package free and it reads the contents of your iTunes library and suggests various selections from a five-million-song archive that might appeal to what it gauges to be your taste. "It's a life jockey, not a disc jockey," he tells me, as skilled with the soundbite as any politician. "Consumer-centric and content-agnostic."

How you make money out of this venture isn't clear, but if people are paying less for music, the current philosophy is simple: encourage them to buy more of it.

Musicians now endure great privations to get their careers aloft - and no better example than Laura Veirs, on stage two days later at my west London local. Ten years ago, Veirs and band would have been in a Holiday Inn with their road crew, but the frail, Portland-based singer-songwriter drove herself alone from the previous night's gig in Newcastle, uses an echo-box to replicate her missing musicians and gamely leaps off stage at the end to sell her own merchandise.

The following night, pub-rock legends Any Trouble light up the golf club across the field, their first performance in 23 years. You wonder how they'll adjust to the harsh new world that's developed without them.

There's a telling line at the beginning of The Simpsons Movie, which I see with my eldest son. It cuts from the Itchy and Scratchy short to our heroes watching in a cinema just like ours. "Why should we pay to see this stuff," Homer asks, "when we can watch it at home for free?"

It brought back the gag Barry Cryer told me in the Loose Ends studio. "Doctor, doctor, I think I'm going deaf." What are the symptoms? "Those funny little yellow people on the telly."

Mark Ellen, Published 02 August 2007, Mark Ellen is editor of The Word magazine

Pittsburgh-rooted TV on the Radio returns as one of rock's most acclaimed and innovative acts

Few reviews went past without comparing Adebimpe to Peter Gabriel. "You know, it's better than being compared to Phil Collins" ...

The story of TV on the Radio begins in a crowded loft in the bohemian center of Williamsburg, N.Y. But before and after that, there were two critical coffeehouse encounters, one of which was at the late Oakland Beehive.

TV on the Radio: Kyp Malone, left, Gerard Smith,
Jaleel Bunton, Dave Sitek and Tunde Adebimpe.

That's where Tunde Adebimpe first met Kyp Malone in the early '90s. Although nothing came out of it initially, it laid the groundwork for the two former Pittsburghers to become the co-frontmen for TV on the Radio, a band widely considered to be at the forefront of whatever innovation rock has left.

At a time when people say everything has been done, TV on the Radio has come along with something no one can easily label -- an aggressive mix that blends the vocals of two would-be soulmen with tape loops, drones, tribal percussion and churning indie-rock guitars.

Throughout the band's rise to the top of the critical heap, it seems as though TV on the Radio has been everywhere but here. It did one show in Pittsburgh, for about 50 people, mostly friends and relatives, at the Quiet Storm in 2003. Now, it finally returns more triumphantly for a show Friday night at Mr. Small's.

"We were still getting it together as a band," Adebimpe says of the last performance here. "We were still trying to figure out what we could do."

As it turns out, they could do quite a lot.

From Hampton to Brooklyn

Tunde ("Ton-day") Adebimpe, 32, was born in Nigeria, and grew up in Hampton, his mother a pharmacist and his late father a noted psychiatrist and classical pianist. He spent several of his childhood years in Nigeria, doing his best to keep track of American pop, such as Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Clearly some other influences seeped in.

From 1989-93, he attended Shady Side Academy, "not really doing well," he says, "in anything except art ... and maybe English."

While at Shady Side, he and his friend Nick formed a high school band called the Apocalyptic Polyester Horsemen, thinking "it would kick us up a notch from only being known as the people who just read comics."

While Adebimpe has only praise for the band's back line musicianship, he says, "We were not good, not good at all. Nick and I got it in our minds that we were rappers, which was far from the truth, and we managed to prove that to everyone with show after show."

Upon graduation, he followed the Warhol path to New York City, where he got into film school at New York University. He specialized in stop-action animation and began working on such projects as MTV's "Celebrity Death Match." Among his episodes were Michael Jackson vs. Madonna and Beastie Boys vs. Backstreet Boys, so, he has said, "There's a lot of carnage in my past." Adebimpe also played the lead in an acclaimed indie film called "Jump Tomorrow" in 2001.

Around that time, he and friend Martin Perna, who plays in the heady Afro-pop band Antibalas, moved to a Brooklyn loft, scene of a "rotating cast of characters."

One of them was David Andrew Sitek, a talented painter, guitarist and producer who knew his way around a four-track recorder. They began working together with a musical approach akin to "piecemeal collaging," Adebimpe says. "You put in the things that excite you and take out all the things that don't excite you."

In 2001, Adebimpe and Sitek conjured "OK Calculator," a sort of sketchbook of 18 lo-fi electronic recordings with a title that played on Radiohead's "OK Computer." How surprised was he when they distributed it around the neighborhood for free and started generating a buzz?

"Totally," he says laughing. "Any time I'm involved in making something, I get so wrapped up in it that finishing it is a matter of wanting to do something else. Then you send it out to the world and it comes back to you in a million really unpredictable and great ways. We were kind of shocked, like 'Hey, someone likes it.' "

The buzz got bigger with the Touch and Go EP "Young Liars," which featured friends from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as guests and showcased Adebimpe as a voice to be reckoned with, one that the tastemakers at Pitchfork referred to as a "sterling, gospel-blues croon."

Shortly after, Adebimpe ran into Malone (he of the unforgettable afro) at a coffee shop in Brooklyn and just stared at him, thinking, "Didn't I meet you in Pittsburgh forever ago?" Malone, who grew up in Moon, had worked at the Beehive and was now serving lattes in the Verb Cafe, while acting and leading the Black Magic Orchestra.

Sitek and Adebimpe were playing shows at a local bar with Sitek's brother Jason helping on drums and other instruments. When Jason left, they thought of continuing on as a duo until David said, "I think the perfect third person would be Kyp."

Malone added another guitar, another soulful croon and a fine set of songwriting skills. An early high-profile booking was a two-night stand in Chicago opening for British punks The Fall, the first night of which Adebimpe says was a "total train wreck."

In 2004, TV on the Radio took it to the next level with its full-length debut, "Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes." The record turned up on Top 10 lists and won the Shortlist Music Prize over the likes of Wilco, the Killers and Franz Ferdinand.

Few reviews went past without comparing Adebimpe to Peter Gabriel.

"You know, it's better than being compared to Phil Collins," he says, laughing (Adebimpe says almost everything with a laugh). "I didn't really ever think about it until people started bringing that up. I'm not against him at all. I mean, Genesis was better when he was there. It's not a conscious thing. We just have the same kind of larynx." (...)

Thursday, August 02, 2007 By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

01 août 2007

Hi-fi website creates tribute to top musicians

LONDON - Hi-fi company Bowers & Wilkins has expanded its website to include a new section dedicated to sound aficionados, including Peter Gabriel, Dave Stewart and Cassandra Wilson.

The new section on the website is dubbed Society of Sound, and has been created by Global Beach. It features artists such as Gabriel and Wilson, along with producers and sound engineers, who are dubbed "fellows" of the society. The website features videos of each artist, tells their stories and why sound is important to them. Each month, a new "fellow" will be inducted into the society.

Dan Northover, managing director of Global Beach, said: "Adding this kind of content to a site, really allows people to share in the passion and experiences of the 'fellows'. Over time we will continue to build the community adding new functionality to connect people with their passion for true sound."

Womad festival 2007 : The Imagined Village

English folk music has been given yet another makeover. The man responsible is Simon Emmerson, best known for his work with the Afro Celt Sound System, and his new project sets out to reinterpret traditional songs for a multicultural, 21st-century society with the help of a wide variety of performers, from folk world celebrities Martin and Eliza Carthy and Billy Bragg, to the reggae artist and poet Benjamin Zephaniah and the British Asian singer Sheila Chandra. There is to be an album and tour in the autumn, but first came this world premiere, held in a large tent in a muddy Wiltshire field.

The Imagined Village was surely the most experimental concert at this year's Womad, but seemed like a work in progress, with intriguing set pieces mixed in with more conventional performances. It started as a multimedia event, with the story of those celebrated Sussex singers the Copper Family told through overlong clips on a screen behind the stage, and matched against an overly lush backing involving sitar, cello, electric bass and percussion. Then came a far more rousing section, in which Martin Carthy was joined by Bragg for a stirring treatment of the traditional song John Barleycorn, transformed by Bragg's lyrics on contemporary English identity. The next song was even better, with a gloriously theatrical Zephaniah appearing on the screen to update the story of Tam Lyn, while perfectly in sync with an adventurous musical setting, dominated by the fiddle work of Eliza Carthy.

After that, it all became more ordinary. There were no more multi-media experiments, but some entertaining chat from Bragg, explaining how first hearing Simon and Garfunkel's version of Scarborough Fair "made me feel English". It was unfortunate that the song was not performed by Martin Carthy, who taught it to Paul Simon, but by Chandra, whose sitar-backed treatment brought it an Indian-sounding edge but little more. The finale involved appearances by the Young Coppers (the newcomers in the family dynasty) and a ceilidh knees-up. It was entertaining, but more village planning is required.

Elsewhere, the festival mix ranged from rock (Peter Gabriel) to more folk (Seth Lakeman), and from the cool, sad-edged ballads of Cesaria Evora to the widescreen trumpet and slide guitar ballads of Arizona's Calexico, joined by Spanish singer Amparo Sánchez. Every good Womad has to have a great African newcomer, and Bassekou Kouyate proved once again that his extraordinary n'goni playing echoes anything from blues to jazz improvisation.

Robin Denselow, The Guardian, Tuesday July 31, 2007

Joseph Arthur : MOMAR man

Joseph Arthur rounds the corner of a wall displaying his artwork, squinting into the soft, perfect light of the main gallery space. MOMAR — the Museum of Modern Arthur — unofficially opened in early June a block from the Brooklyn shore of the East River. The idea is to sell his large abstract paintings, many done live on stage as part of his solo performances, and maybe the work of other artists as well — he’s working it out as he goes along. He’s also busy recording another album with his band, the Lonely Astronauts, roughly his third recorded disc this year. Roughly, that is, because there’s already an album of Lonely Astronaut songs in the can, and he’s also sorting through 35 tracks for his next solo record. How many songs he’s written and recorded lately, he’s not exactly sure.

With his mouth bent into a smile under the heavy slits of his eyes and high forehead, Arthur looks like a porpoise poking his head above the surface of the water — or, eyes adjusting and readjusting to the light, a baby. Rock and roll is notoriously infantilizing to those who practice it. You’re carted to where adoration is readily available by people responsible for your safety, and all manner of intoxicants are presented to you as easily as a bottle tilted at your chin; the whole nocturnal/diurnal divide is just an abstract concept. But some of the best artists are indeed like babies: every sensation arrives as fresh information about the world. Babies are always in the moment.

Arthur is one of those for whom the differences between life and art blur into a smear. Inspiration isn’t something you spend time or energy doubting, no matter how absurd its origins. Take the idea of opening a gallery. “A few months ago, I was just walking around the neighborhood,” he explains, “and there was a broken storefront — somebody had broken into at night. I walked in there and just sat in the middle of it for a little while, and the idea came to me there.”

Art came first for Arthur, who’s 35. He drew and painted growing up in Akron, and he just never stopped. But he also started listening to his older sister’s records, and those of her friends. “I was really young hanging out with older upperclassmen and listening to Zeppelin and shit like that. In eighth grade, I was in a band with two seniors, which in high school years is a lot.”

It was validation from the older, more established set that also established his music as a career. Peter Gabriel signed Arthur to his Real World label, releasing the experimental folk rock of Big City Secrets in 1997. Arthur moved up to Virgin for Come to Where I’m From (2000), and he continued to label-hop with the acclaimed (Universal, 2002) and Redemption’s SonOur Shadows Will Remain (Vector, 2004). He released both Nuclear Daydream (2006) and Let’s Just Be (2007) on his own Lonely Astronaut label. With each recording, he’s taken a different approach to songwriting and presentation, moving from that idiosyncratic folk rock to a more straight-rock band.

The question now is when and where those 35 solo tracks will be winnowed down into a single album and released, because the songs so far are stunning. “A River Blue” — the only one available for public consumption, streamed on — hints at these tracks. It was recorded in Northern Uganda with 100 young people from a camp for the internally displaced; the idea was to raise awareness for a music-art-and-drama project there. Imagine the displacement of the rough-hewn choir that’s crowding Arthur’s reedy vocals — assuage your guilt by donating at — and you get an idea of the twilit grandeur to come.

At his best, Arthur positions his songs in the narrow space between heartache and compassion, creating a broad canvas onto which you can splatter your own mess of an internal life. Except that, now, inspired by the band’s drawing out of his inner junior-high rocker, even his solo songwriting drives those sentiments through with melodies that would be big pop hooks if they weren’t in the service of something more obscure.

“This one is more a follow-up to Our Shadows Will Remain,” he says of the upcoming solo disc, “where Nuclear Daydream was a sidestep and Let’s Just Be was a sidestep too. Nothing to diminish the quality of those records, but I was going in a certain direction with Redemption’s Son and Our Shadows Will Remain, and this is more in keeping with that, in that it’s more meticulously produced with in some ways bigger productions, but I think there’s a lot of light in it. There’s lots of love. It’s one of those things that’s hard to talk about in music. I’m not trying to sound esoteric, but you’re talking about one of those things that’s innately esoteric. So it’s difficult to not go there.”

Playing with the Lonely Astronauts has been a revelation, both to him and his audiences. His solo shows held elements of performance art — pretty inescapable when you’re painting a huge canvas throughout the performance — but he was limited to what he could do with his voice and an inventive looping of his acoustic guitar. It was a neat trick, but the Lonely Astronauts, whom he put together to tour Nuclear Daydream, make him a rock star. Thank guitarist Jennifer Turner’s muscular leads in particular; the effect is like hearing Lou Reed’s rocked-up Velvet Underground songs on Rock and Roll Animal. Theirs is the rare show where it seems that anything is possible. When at the end of the Nuclear Daydream tour they began closing sets with the Stones“Miss You,” it felt less ironic than a celebration.

“It’s like a new inspiration, the band,” says Arthur. “It’s a genuine band that came together organically. It feels like a bonus to me, this chemistry that we all discovered. We started writing together, and there was this openness and a lot of fun, just a big spirit about the whole thing, which is what Let’s Just Be is all about, because we took all that crazy energy and went into the studio. That’s why we put that record out. And now we’re recording another band record, which I feel will be quite different.

“It’s definitely liberating. With all this stuff, you have to keep challenging yourself. I suppose that’s what this space is about as well, to some degree.” He casts an eye toward the bright center of MOMAR. “You put these things in front of yourself and through them you grow.”

Located at 25 Jay Street in Brooklyn, the gallery — with its polished, freshly mopped floors and a leggy woman of indeterminately posh accent manning the front desk — officially opened on July 13; the event was marked only by a press release a week later. They’re still figuring things out. The plan is for a big opening event on September 5. (You can track progress at

Arthur’s paintings are mostly dense and layered, on huge unframed canvases. The original of the work seen on the cover of Let’s Just Be, however, is smaller and starkly emotional, with black rivulets of paint radiating out from a figure like a peacock plume coated in club-girl mascara. Some see the figure as the Virgin Mary; others, as a bird. So it goes with Abstract Expressionism.

“I suppose it’s like Abstract Expressionism,” he says. “I’m not too familiar with the labels of it. I have no license to be doing this. It’s all internal. It’s about bringing out something you see in your mind and following the forms. There’s an aspect of meditation to it, some sort of communion with the spirit. As hoky as that sounds, I think it’s true. I feel that it’s a form of therapy meets church meets performance. It’s a funny reaction to life.”

He brushes slept-on hair away from a week and a half’s worth of beard and continues, “I have many days when I write and paint all day long. If you don’t watch TV or get connected into the Internet, it frees up a lot of time, man. But that’s the whole thing, keeping your human spirit alive and awake and unfearful of its explorations.”

He pauses to take a pull from a claret-colored natural energy drink, blinking into the late-afternoon summer sun. “Just being in the moment, being with yourself,” he says of his creative process, which could also be considered a philosophy, or simply life as he’s received it. “It’s kind of like playing.”

Womad : Crime down at music festival

Crime went down significantly at this year's WOMAD festival in Wiltshire, it was announced today. And according to district council officers who attended the event, one woman visiting the festival gave birth while watching a performance. It is not known whether she was from the local area or whether she had planned the unusual birth venue.

Visitors to the festival at Charlton Park, Malmesbury reported 90 crimes to police officers, far fewer than at previous festivals. Nearly three times that number were reported in recent years. One person was arrested for a drugs offence. Traffic police were very happy with the flow of traffic, given the wet weather and volume of vehicles. There were some minor collisions on surrounding roads in Malmesbury that were not related to WOMAD but caused delays nevertheless.

Despite the severe test of wet weather and muddy ground conditions during the event, more than 35,000 people attended the World of Music, Arts and Dance festival organised by Box man Peter Gabriel.

Chief Inspector Rick Wright, from Wiltshire Police said: "I would like to thank everyone involved including North Wiltshire District Council, Wiltshire County Council, Great Western Ambulance Service and the event directors and their contractors for their cooperation in managing this event in such extremely wet conditions."

By Benjamin Parkes

Womad spirit defies rain and mud

Peter Gabriel marked Womad's anniversary with a show of his own

World music's biggest and best-known festival, Womad, was turned into Woe-mud at the weekend by the heavy rain earlier in the week. But Womad, which quit its old home in Reading for a new site in Wiltshire this year, still managed to celebrate its 25th anniversary in the presence of thousands of appreciative fans, and include a headline gig by the festival's founder, Peter Gabriel.

It was something of a homecoming for the former Genesis star as his Real World studios are only just down the road, and he was joined on stage by family and friends. It was something of a greatest hits affair, with fans voting on his website for the songs they wanted to hear. Blood of Eden, No Self Control, Sledgehammer and Solsbury Hill all made it onto the playlist. He was accompanied by the "Cambodian Ray Charles", Kong Nay, for Lay Your Hands on Me. And he was also joined by Mauritania's Daby Touré for a rousing version of In Your Eyes.

The ground was turned into a thick chocolate sauce that had fans squelching in their wellies between the stages, but Womad lost none of its Bohemian qualities. The men's communal showers were opened to women as I was getting washed, while middle-aged people clomped about the site in fairy wings and tutus.

Slightly bemused, Mud at Womad, Conditions were difficult for some

It may have taken an hour-and-a-half to drive the few miles from the M4 motorway to the Charlton Park site but the reggae of Toots and the Maytals soon had smiles back on the faces of some stressed-out drivers.

Chambao are one of a crop of Spanish groups who have emerged in recent years by mixing traditional with modern. They performed flamenco with soul and rap, while Lila Downs wore her very long hair extensions and Mexican/American heritage with pride. Her performances are what painter Frida Kahlo might have come up with if she had formed a mariachi band.

With a new location and the weather to compete with, the normally strict Womad timetable went array several times, while Viscount Andover, who helped bring Womad to his Charlton Park estate home, was still getting to grips with the site. He had to consult a map when asked the way to one of the stages.

Cesaria Evora, The Womad crowd loved Cesaria Evora

Such was the expectation for Cesaria Evora that she was wildly applauded before even opening her mouth in the Siam Tent on Saturday. She seemed slightly bemused by the fuss. Cape Verde's most famous export hardly spoke between her often sad and soulful songs, and she only really moved when she sat down to take a cigarette break while her band played on. But by the time she finished with Besame Mucho she had certainly moved the audience.

Sea of mud

The contrast with Candi Staton could not have been greater. She had the tent singing and dancing as she switched from soul to gospel to disco, taking in her own Young Hearts Run Free and Elvis's In the Ghetto.

Dry islands started to appear in the sea of mud as the sun shone on Saturday, but the heavens had opened again by the time The Imagined Village premiered their live show in the evening. Simon Emmerson of the Afro Celt Sound System had invited musicians such as Billy Bragg, Martin and Eliza Carthy, Johnny Kalsi of the Dhol Foundation and Sheila Chandra to reinterpret some traditional English folk music.

Billy Bragg reinterpreted English folk music for Womad

They were joined on a video screen by dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah for a reworking of the 15th Century poem Tam Lyn.

Isaac Hayes headlined in the pouring rain on the outdoor stage but his famous gravelly voice still managed to put some soul into the night. Clube do Balanco from Brazil had people sambaing in their wellies on Sunday.

David D'Or from Israel set Jewish prayers to music, his powerful voice calling out to people around the site. And he had the crowd dancing en masse to the Jewish folk song Chava Nagila.

By the time local lad Jamie Cullen and his brother Ben made the short trip down the road from Malmesbury the skies had turned blue. Jamie's jazzy, funky pop may not be traditional Womad fare but he and the crowd leapt to it. The brothers tried out some of their new material, including an improvised number called... Womad 2007.

The organisers said they left Reading because Womad had outgrown the site there. Charlton Park is certainly much bigger, but it needs the benefit of good weather before it can be properly judged.

By Martin Vennard, BBC News, Charlton Park, Wiltshire

Global rockers make magic in the mud

Desert trance: Touareg band Tinariwen

If it had stayed at its Reading home, Womad's 25th anniversary would have been under water. But on the high ground of its new location in Wiltshire, the festival avoided the floods but found the mother of all quagmires. Some rechristened it Womud.

For the 100 artists from five continents appearing this year and for the man who started it all, Peter Gabriel, who gave a special performance to mark a quarter of a century of, as he put it, "introducing the world to the world", a little bit of wet earth wasn't going to stop the global party.

Gabriel's set was blinding: a dazzling light show matched by a supertight band. Gabriel confidently ran though some of his big hits - Solsbury Hill and Sledgehammer were enthusiastically received. And he enlisted some of the talent playing over the weekend to share the stage with him, including master Chinese flute player Guo Yue, who lent an emotional potency to the Blood of Eden.

There was an English folk tinge this year, too, with Billy Bragg singing an impromptu Jerusalem to the crowd, folk fiddle rocker Seth Lakeman pulling a huge number of punters with his energetic set and new folk project, the Imagined Village, from the makers of the Afro Celt Soundsystem, rebranding English traditional music. The ubiquitous Tinariwen - they played London's Lovebox and that other mudfest Glastonbury - were depleted by illness and missed flights, but those present spun out their trance guitar riffs from the desert, while their long Touareg robes skirted their mud-spattered wellies with a comic incongruity.

Senegal's Baaba Maal, who closed the festival, played a long, boring, repetitive set riven with energy yet lacking musical sensitivity. But even that proved Womad's unique strength: that its success doesn't rely on a headline act, but resides in its generous embrace of a world of music.

Mark Espiner, Evening Standard

31 juillet 2007

Magic amid the mud

As Peter Gabriel launched into his anthem of the open air, Solsbury Hill, I and several thousand other Womad-goers were picking our way through acres of thick, elastic mud in semi-darkness. And there's something poignant - or perhaps pathetic - about hearing a song about striding up a Wiltshire hillside while clambering through a real-life Wiltshire bog, particularly when the situation is largely man-made.

After 17 years at a leisure centre in - of all places - Reading, our premier world-musical festival has moved to the more rarefied atmosphere of an aristocratic estate. Yet the feeling is that this famously laid-back event has been woefully under-prepared for weather conditions that were known about months in advance. With two stages engulfed by flooding, vehicles stranded and the main thoroughfares a vast mud bath, Womad - notably friendly to families and older people - makes the young people's festival Glastonbury look like a model of efficiency.

Yet it is still possible to encounter the kind of magically unexpected moments that have become Womad's trademark. Making my way into a wood through which swirling shadow patterns were being projected, I came upon a tiny stage on which the Malian lute master Bassekou Kouyate and his group, Ngoni Ba, were belting out their densely percussive music to a small but clearly enchanted audience.

Saturday dawned warm and sunny, and Cape Verdean diva Cesaria Evora got a huge response for her easy-shuffling rhythms and majestically unhurried delivery. Arizona's Calexico created a similarly dreamy feel, blending mariachi trumpets and swooning pedal steel guitar in a hallucinatory Mexican border vibe.

As the predicted rain commenced at 8pm sharp, the hyper-energy of the Asian Dub Foundation's agit hip-hop proved just the thing to revive the soggy and depleted crowd. Britain and Asia met again in the Imagined Village, an attempt to reinterpret English folk song in the light of what Britain now is, with veteran folkie Martin Carthy joined by Billy Bragg and various British Asian musicians. If it felt a touch worthy at times, there was a sense of being in on the birth of something new and exciting.

Whatever else Saturday's headliner, Isaac Hayes, might be, he is not new, and despite the super-tightness of his band, his performance soon descended into tired cabaret funk in which the man himself seemed to have little interest. But then, just as you were wondering if this could really be the man who created the inspirational tension of the Theme from Shaft, he launched into an extended version of that very number, carrying the dialogue between wah-wah guitar and stabbing chords to a pitch of excitement that almost topped the pure genius of the original.

Mark Hudson reviews Womad at Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wilts

Can Youssour Ndour become the Prime Minister of a Continental Government?

Senegal’s most illustrious musician, Youssour said he will be happy if elected or appointed as the Prime Minister of an African Government. Many people in Senegal were stunned by the singer’s statement. During his long and successful career, the musician never showed interest in politics, and has never contested in Senegal’s elections. His popularity in Senegal and around the world can no doubt give him such a coveted post. But who is Youssour Ndour.

Youssour Ndour is one of Africa’s modern music pioneers who has emphatically put African music on the world map over the past 20 years. He was born in Medina, “the old town” in Dakar, Senegal. At an early age, his mother, Ndeye Mboup, taught him the traditional music and songs of the Wolof people, to which the family belongs, and which is still a large and influential group in in the Senegambia region of west Africa.

As a youngster Youssour Ndour began performing with musicians and drama groups in his home town, Dakar, which since colonial days has been an important centre of culture in West Africa. In 1973 he gave his first public performance with a modern band. In 1975 he went on tour to The Gambia, but was called home by his parents who thought he was too young to embark on a tour. A year later he was with Star Band, the house band at the Miami Club, Dakar’s leading nightclub at the time. Together with Star Band, Youssour Ndour was still a teenager, experimenting to blend the traditional Wolof music with western instruments. This mix style was later named ‘Mbalax’.

In 1979 Youssou Ndour started up his own band, Etoile in Dakar. This was reorganised and renamed Super Etoile de Dakar in 1982.He continue to introduce new elements into the music, which now began to find its own form: group of west African drums and bass, supplemented by guitar, brass instruments, keyboards and the talking drum’ Tama’. The first cassette for the home market was recorded in 1981 and a rack of cassettes followed in the Wolof lyrics. He comments on life in Senegal and takes themes from Wolof mythology.

Youssou Ndour’s popularity in Senegal and within the sub-region is till growing like a wild fire. Rich Senegalese are willing to pay Youssour Ndour to write songs. His albums” Immigres (1985), “Nelson Mandela” (1986) and “Seven Seconds” with Nene Cherry provided him with his international breakthrough which led to musical cooperation with Peter Gabriel. Their duo song ”Shaking the Tree” was well written. The two went on tour in 1987.

After his debut in the international scene Youssour Ndour has made CDs for the world market. He tours the world over but holds tight onto his African roots by continuing to live in Senegal together with his family. At the bustling “Sandaga” market in down town Dakar, many fans of the celebrated musician told me he got everything that can make him the Prime Minister of a continental Africa.” He is rich, he is wise and above all he is a real patriot of Africa. He has never sing anything that will divide Africa’, one Professor at the Dakar University told Senegambia News. Whether the singer is interested to head an African union government will be known in the coming days and months.

By Alpha Jallow in Dakar, Senegal

29 juillet 2007

Mudlarks brave rain for music

A muddy World of Music, Arts and Dance (Womad) festival came to an end under blue skies.

The festival, at Charlton Park, near Malmesbury, saw thousands of music lovers head for North Wiltshire to see stars such as Peter Gabriel, Isaac Hayes, Candi Staton and Baaba Maal.

Heavy rain last week left the site, which was hosting Womad for the first time, looking more like the traditionally muddy Glastonbury.

But of the 10 performance arenas only the Meadow Stage had to be aborted, with other areas on the whole surviving well. Soul legend Isaac Hayes provided a rain-soaked crowd with a memorable performance on Saturday. The Oscar winner played to an audience of thousands, who shrugged off the awful weather to listen to the remarkable set.

When the 64-year-old and his band performed Soul Man, followed by the theme tune to hit 1970s movie Shaft, you could feel the electricity in the crowd.

Melissa Shields, 27, of Reading, said: "It was amazing. To see someone like Isaac Hayes perform live is awesome and it was incredible when he sang Soul Man and then Shaft. He was superb."

Thankfully, in spite of the rain, there was no electricity coming from the sky. However, there was no way to avoid the heavy downpours, which punctuated what had otherwise been a glorious day. A severe weather warning had been issued earlier in the day and, right on queue, at 8pm the heavens opened.

The rain was expected to last until about 7am. It worsened the mud at Charlton Park, after the ground had at last started to firm up again, making the journeys back to tents and cars less than pleasurable.

Christian Aid worker Katherine Hogg said: "The mud is pretty bad, but you can't let it stop your fun. Everyone is getting stuck and all you can really do is laugh along with each other." It was Womad's 25th anniversary, and it is usually held in Rivermead Park, Reading.

Hayes rocks soggy Womad

Isaac Hayes wowed the crowd at this year's rain-blighted Womad festival in Wiltshire last night. The singer performed Soul Man and the theme from Shaft in his set to make festival-goers forget the torrential downpours and damp conditions underfoot yesterday evening. This year's Womad festival, which began on Friday and ends today, is taking place in Charlton Park near Malmesbury in Wiltshire, away from the usual Reading venue.

It has suffered badly from the recent bad weather central and western England has encountered, with muddy and sticky conditions encouraging some to make comparisons to those seen at this year's Glastonbury. Today the festival's website admitted that "a night of heavy rain has caused a deterioration again in the mud on site" but added optimistically that "the dry weather today and tomorrow will improve conditions."

Womad, brainchild of former Genesis star Peter Gabriel, has been held in 27 different countries in its 27-year-history. Other acts performing at the world music festival have included Asian Dub Foundation, The Silk String Quartet and Mr Gabriel himself.

Les musiciens du Nil à l’interview

De leurs lointaines origines du Rajasthan, ces tsiganes de Haute Egypte ont conservé une habileté de charmeur de serpent. Rustique et festive en diable, leur musique laisse la part belle à des instruments dont la facture remonte aux temps des Pharaons. Ainsi, percussions (tablah baladi), hautbois entêtants (mizmar) et doubles flûtes de roseau (arghoul) font tourner les noces jusqu’à épuisement des convives. En 1989, Peter Gabriel leur ouvrait une première fois les portes de son label Realworld. Deux albums ont suivi et Les Musiciens du Nil n’ont rien perdu de leur vigueur première.

Pascal Schouwey les a rencontrés, Interview des Musiciens du Nil [12:40m]:

Émilie Simon à Montréal : Dernière escale pour Végétal

Elle arrive au bout du fil, un peu essoufflée, et la voix pétillante comme de l'eau minéralisée. "Excusez-moi, j'étais tout juste en train de terminer une séance de photos", lance Émilie Simon.

Pour Les Inrockuptibles? Paris Match? "Non, pour un magazine japonais. Je suis allée trois fois au Japon, en plus de passer par Hong Kong, Manille, l'Australie, New York, L.A. et Londres ces derniers mois. Je voyage beaucoup."

En effet. Remarquez, la jeune Française jointe dans l'Hexagone, comme d'autres artistes de chez nous, fait la démonstration que sa musique, principalement francophone, mais reposant sur des bases électroniques, peut s'imposer dans tous les marchés du monde, sans regard aux langues parlées et à la culture.

Et de plus, nous sommes vachement heureux de la revoir, elle qui était passée aux FrancoFolies l'an dernier. Avec le compact et le DVD À L'Olympia, on avait l'impression que la boucle de son deuxième disque, Végétal, était bouclée, et que nous allions devoir attendre trois années avant de la revoir.

"Ce n'est pas la même configuration que pour la précédente tournée, assure-t-elle. Cette fois, nous serons trois sur scène, ce qui va nous permettre de faire d'autres choix de titres de mes deux disques. Ça ne sera pas le même spectacle que l'an dernier."

Et nous aurons probablement droit à d'autres reprises pour celle qui a déjà fait des versions inspirées de I Wanna Be Your Dog et Come As You Are.

Exercice de style

"En effet. Là, je vais faire du Peter Gabriel et peut-être du David Bowie, puisque j'ai travaillé l'une de ses chansons pour une compilation."

Est-ce parce que le "son" d'Émilie Simon est maintenant établi que la jeune femme se permet de s'attaquer à des légendes? "C'est un exercice de style passionnant. Je ne suis pas spécialiste de la chose, mais ça permet d'apporter un éclairage différent à une chanson qui est un chef-d'oeuvre à l'origine."

Après ce spectacle inédit à Montréal, on s'attend donc à voir Simon retourner à la composition. "C'est prévu, mais je voulais vraiment aller jusqu'au bout de l'aventure de scène de Végétal avant de faire table rase. Je ne l'avais pas fait après la parution de mon premier disque. Cette fois, je vais prendre un peu de recul."

Et à quoi peut-on s'attendre? "Il y aura quelques collaborations sur le prochain disque. Au cours des ans, j'ai collaboré avec des gens comme Tricky. Je suis plus ouverte à ça qu'à mes débuts. Il faut construire sa propre maison avant d'y inviter des gens."

Philippe Rezzonico/ Le Journal de Montréal

Sunny end for rainswept WOMAD

The 25th WOMAD Festival concludes today at a muddy, rain-soaked Charlton Park. The weather has already led to the cancellation of the Meadow Stage, one of ten performance arenas at the event. However, the rain and mud has had a minimal effect on the artists, other than that.

The WOMAD procession will take place this evening and the night will be rounded off with a fireworks display. Festivalgoers should be in for a dry day, although there may be a few showers about. However, travel to and from the event is expected to be difficult, with the fields used for car parking still very wet.

Wet weather affects music stage

Flooded Womad, The festival used to take place in Reading

The wet weather has caused problems at the Womad Festival in Wiltshire with one stage having to be closed. The event is being held at Charlton Park, Malmesbury, for the first time after 17 years at Rivermead, Berkshire. Organisers had warned people to be prepared for wet weather. Co-founder Peter Gabriel played at the event over the weekend. Acts appearing also include Baaba Maal, Toots and the Maytals, Isaac Hayes, Seckou Keita Quartet and Taj Mahal.

Two days of heavy rain had deteriorated the condition of the ground. Since 1988, other Womad festivals have taken place at different locations around the world. Former Genesis star Gabriel endorsed the decision to move the principal site to Wiltshire, saying: "it just felt that there was beginning to be a negative noise about Reading".

Hayes stars in the rain at WOMAD

Soul legend Isaac Hayes provided a rain-soaked WOMAD crowd with a truly memorable performance last night. The Oscar winner played to an audience of thousands, who shrugged off the awful weather to listen to the remarkable set. When the 64-year-old and his band performed Soul Man, followed by the theme tune to hit 1970s movie Shaft, you could feel the electricity in the crowd.

Melissa Shields, 27, of Reading, said: "It was amazing. To see someone like Isaac Hayes perform live is awesome and it was incredible when he sang Soul Man and then Shaft. He was superb." Thankfully, despite the rain, there was no electricity coming from the sky. However, there was no way to avoid the heavy downpours, which punctuated what had otherwise been a glorious day.

A severe weather warning had been issued earlier in the day and, right on queue, at 8pm the heavens opened. The rain was expected to last until about 7am. It worsened the mud at Charlton Park, after the ground had at last started to firm up again, making the journeys back to tents and cars less than pleasurable.

The estate is now a complete mudbath, with one person even remarking that it was "worse than Glastonbury this year," as they trudged through the main arena.

Christian Aid worker Katherine Hogg said: "The mud is pretty bad, but you can't let it stop your fun. Everyone is getting stuck and all you can really do is laugh along with each other."

Malmesbury's mayor John Lawton was also enjoying the event at the Mayor's Parlour stall, which is raising money for the town hall renovation. "It's great," he said. "It's a crying shame about the weather, but everyone is really friendly and jolly and the music has been very good."

Other highlights of yesterday's programme included Candi Staton, who played to a packed Siam Tent audience, and gave an energetic performance that included her smash hit Young hearts Run Free.

By Gordon Simpson