Womad: Top ten acts to check out

By Scott Kara

Scott Kara picks 10 acts worth checking out at the Womad festival

Hugh Masekela rose to international success in the 60s. Photo / Supplied
Hugh Masekela rose to international success in the 60s. Photo / Supplied

Hugh Masekela (South Africa)

Starting out in the late 1950s, the great South African trumpeter's music has reflected the conflict and exploitation going on in his homeland, and with his growing international success in the 60s he helped inspire political change by bringing his country's plight under apartheid on the world stage.

When: Friday, 8.15pm, TSB Bowl Stage

Aotearoa National Maori Choir with The Yoots (NZ)

The 80-strong National Maori Choir is reforming especially for Womad and will be singing Aotearoa's best-loved waiata, accompanied by Wellington supergroup and 2012 festival favourites The Yoots.

When: Sunday, 6.30pm, TSB Bowl Stage

Goran Bregovic & His Weddings & Funerals Orchestra (Serbia)

Saturday night will be the time for a raucous, Balkan-inspired knees-up with Goran Bregovic's party band driven by electric guitar, some fired-up gypsy brass and an all-male choir.

When: Saturday, 9.15pm, TSB Bowl Stage

Salif Keita (Mali)

Because of his albinism, Salif Keita was ostracised growing up, and was then disowned by his father for wanting to pursue a career in music. Now he is dubbed the "Golden Voice of Africa". Keita blends West African grooves with jazz, funk and R&B to create his own unique style of Afropop.

When: Saturday, 2pm, Pinetum Stage (Artist in Conversation session); Saturday, 7pm, TSB Bowl Stage

Jimmy Cliff (Jamaica)

The reggae legend is best known for the soundtrack to The Harder They Come (a 1972 film in which he also starred) and hit You Can Get It If You Really Want, but at Womad expect to hear of songs off his recent Grammy-winning album, Rebirth, including (hopefully) his version of The Clash's Guns of Brixton.

When: Sunday, 3pm, Pinetum Stage (Artist in Conversation session); Sunday, 8.30pm, TSB Bowl Stage

AHoriBuzz (NZ)

Tie your bandana around your head and prepare yourself for psychedelic funk rock machine AHoriBuzz, the brainchild of guitarist Aaron Tokona (formerly of Weta and now Cairo Knife Fight). It will be mean and funky.

When: Sunday, 7.30pm, Shell Gables Stage

Bassekou Kouyat and Ngoni Ba (Mali)

A master of the ngoni, a West African stringed instrument, Kouyat has performed with the late guitarist Ali Farka Toure (whose son Vieux also plays Womad) and kora player Toumani Diabate, but on his excellent debut album I Speak Fula he stepped out on his own.

When: Saturday, 1pm, Chimney Stage; Saturday, 8.15pm, Shell Gables Stage, 1 of 2; Sun, 7.30pm, Todd Brooklands Stage

Vieux Farka Toure (Mali)

If the Mali bluesman can play guitar anything like his late great father Ali - and by all accounts he can - his two performances and Artist in Conversation session will be one to witness.

When: Friday, 6.15pm, TSB Bowl Stage; Saturday, 12pm, Pinetum Stage (Artist in Conversation session); Saturday, 4pm, Todd Brooklands Stage

Nidi d'Arac (Italy)

This ensemble from Southern Italy is led by singer Alessandro Coppola and they conjure up a sound that's steeped in rural tradition but with rock, electronica and beats. Listen to latest album Taranta Container for what to expect.

When: Friday, 9.30pm, Todd Brooklands Stage; Saturday, 3pm, TSB Bowl Stage

Grace Barbe (Seychelles/Australia)

The Seychelles-born, Western Australia-based singer songwriter describes her sound as Afro-Kreol and is an amalgamation of pop, reggae, funk and Afrobeat combined with the Moutya and Tinge rhythms from her home island.

When: Friday, 6.15pm, Chimney Stage; Sunday, 1pm, Shell Gables Stage

Where & when: Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth, March 15-17
Line-up includes: Jimmy Cliff (Jamaica), Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch (US), AHoriBuzz (NZ), Antibalas (US), Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba (Mali); David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights (NZ), Electric Wire Hustle Family (NZ), Fly My Pretties (NZ), Goran Bregovic & His Weddings & Funerals Orchestra (Serbia); Grace Barbe (Seychelles/Australia), Jordi Savall (Spain), Manjiri Kelkar (India), LAU (Scotland), Novalima (Peru), Salif Keita (Mali), Shunsuke Kimura and Etsuro Ono (Japan), Soweto Gospel Choir (South Africa), Tenzin Choegyal and the Monks of Tibet (Australia/Tibet), Vieux Farka Toure (Mali) and many more

Tickets: $67-$239 from Ticketek

More info & full line-up: womad.co.nz

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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