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There is a flurry of activity in New Plymouth as the city gears up for this weekend's WOMAD festival.

Dozens of artists from around the world will perform at the World of Music and Dance, running from Friday to Sunday at New Plymouth's Bowl of Brooklands.

Sharon Jones and Dap-Kings, Nickodemus and Beirut are among this year's international acts and Kora, The Phoenix Foundation and The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra are just a few of those representing New Zealand.

WOMAD chief executive Suzanne Porter says she's happy the weather is looking good, which is helping the preparations of the Bowl of Brooklands go smoothly.

"There are contractors in erecting stages, there is lighting going in, there's toilets, there's the whole global village being set up - so as you can imagine it's a huge undertaking."

More than 300 artists from around the world will perform at the festival, which includes workshops, a global village with food and crafts, and kids activities at Brooklands Zoo.

HIGHLIGHTS
Neil Finn
Kiwi favourite Neil Finn has stepped in at the last minute to replace headliner Cesaria Evora, who recently suffered a stroke. Finn, famous for his stints with Split Enz and Crowded House, will play at 10pm on Sunday evening.

Beirut
Zach Condon, the brains behind indie folk gypsy band Beirut, is far too young to be making music as good and as wise sounding as this. The early 20-something's album The Flying Club Cup was a highlight of last year and he'll be worth checking out this weekend. They play the Brooklands Stage at 7pm on Friday and the TSB Bowl at 8pm on Saturday.

Mavis Staples
She grew up singing in church during the 50s. In the 60s she and her family group the Staple Singers became the musical voice of the civil rights movement, then she became a pop star. Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Mavis Staples, brings her uplifting soul and gospel style to the festival wither a performance on the Brooklands stage at 11.00pm Friday.

Clube do Balanco
Brazilian samba rock band Clube do Balanco from Sao Paulo will have Womad's audience shaking their hips in no time. With their albums Swing & Samba Rock and Samba Incrementado they've single handedly started a movement that's been shaking Brazilian dancefloors for the past six years. They play the TSB Bowl Stage at 4pm on Saturday or check out their workshop at 9pm on the Dell Stage.

Black Grace
New Zealand's leading contemporary dance company promises an innovative and athletic performance with pacific flavour. The appear on the Gables Stage at 11pm on Friday and 9pm on Sunday.

Nickodemus
New York DJ Nickodemus has a unique hip hop flavour, incorporating break beats and brisk grooves with live congas and bongos. As well as an appearance on the Chimney stage at 10pm on Saturday, he will perform an earlier stint at the Kunming Garden stage, where performers cook some of their favourite foods while they entertain. "I'm going to make a few southern Italian dishes and play some music which hopefully everyone likes" Nickodemus said last week.

Kora
Kiwi roots reggae band Kora straddle several genres to bring music fans together for an exciting and energetic performance. The Wellington group blends vocal harmonies with a powerhouse rhythm section. They perform Saturday on the Gables stage at 3pm and Sunday on the Brooklands Stage at 7pm.

Manjiri Kelkar
Young classical singer Manjiri Kelkar, is a staple of music festivals in her native India. Manjiri belongs to the Jaipur Atrauli gharana (style, tradition) and shot to fame as the first recipient of the Bismillah Khan Award, named after India's greatest Shehnai player. She performs from 12.45am-1.30am Friday evening on the TSB Bowl Stage and 9pm Sunday on the Dell Stage.

Titi Robin Quintet
French musician Thierry "Titi" Robin presents an original interpretation of Gypsy music. He plays oud, bouzouki and guitar, letting music from India and North Africa, and the influence of both Gypsy and Eastern cultures inspire him. Head to the Brooklands Stage at 9pm Friday or the Gables Stage at 7pm on Sunday.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Sharon and her band play funk and soul music that sounds as though it was created back in its 60s and 70s heyday. 7pm Saturday on the Gables Stage or 9pm Sunday on the Brooklands Stage.

ARTIST LINE-UP
Age Pryor and The Suspicions / An Emerald City / Beirut / Black Grace / Cesaria Evora / Clube do Balanco / David D'Or / Farafina / Green Fire Islands / Gyuto Monks / Jess Chambers & The Firefly Orchestra / Joji Hirota Trio / Master Kong Nay & Ouch Savy / Kora / Manjiri Kelkar / Mavis Staples / Midge Marsden / Dr Natesan Ramani / Nickodemus / Pedson Kasume / Sharon Jones & Dap-Kings / SJD / Susana Baca / Taraf de Haidouks / Terem Quartet / The Phoenix Foundation / Tim Guy / Titi Robin Quintet / Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra / Village of the Idiots / Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra / Whangara Mai Tawhiti

TICKETS
Tickets will be available at the venue over the weekend. Passes range in cost from $70 (Friday evening) to $335 (three-day pass with camping) See Ticketek for full details.

- NEWSTALK ZB/NZHERALD STAFF