It’s that time of year again… that’s right, World of Music, Arts and Dance (Womad) will once again be descending onto Abu Dhabi’s Corniche and Al Ain’s Al Jahili Fort this weekend filled with music, workshops and so much more.
Co-founded by former Genesis member Peter Gabriel in 1980, Womad’s main aim is to bring together artists from all across the world and celebrate the world’s many forms of music, arts and dance. As a result of the success of Womad over the years, there are now over 160 festivals in 27 countries across the world.
So what are you waiting for? The free festival begins today at from 6pm, and don’t forget to expect the unexpected when you arrive.
tabloid! met a few of the performers.
Tinariwen are set to rock once they step on stage to perform on Saturday.
Ahead of their performance, tabloid! chatted on the phone with Eyadou, one of the vocalists and the Malian band’s only bass guitarist, about what the band hoped to experience when they arrive.
“We’re very happy that we were asked to be a part of Womad Abu Dhabi 2010. This is the first time that we will be performing in the Middle East. Also, because we are all nomads, we are looking forward to meeting Emiratis and discussing our cultures because of our similar backgrounds,” he said.
The band, which was formed in 1979, is made up of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara desert region of northern Mali. The popularity of their songs made them one of the most successful African groups in the world with a strong fan following, including celebrities such as Carlos Santana and Bono from U2.
“We were so surprised to learn that we had celebrity fans… when Tinariwen was first formed, the main purpose was to create music and raise awareness about our country. But now, we’re playing on stage with Robert Plant and Carlos Santana… it’s almost like a dream,” Eyadou said.
While Tinariwen’s musical style is influenced by traditional Tuareg melodies and songs, the band members also draw on modern artists and style to complete their sound. Their signature instrument is the guitar, on which they perform their own style, known as “assouf”.
At Womad, they have been commissioned to create a unique piece with other musicians. “This is the first time we collaborate with [Algerian] Mehdi Haddab, Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe [both from the US band TV on the Radio].
“It’s nice to meet other artists and learn more about each other. As for the piece we will be playing with them, once we meet, we’ll find a balance that will help us create something special for the people coming to see us perform,” Eyadou said.
Abu Dhabi: North Stage,
Saturday at 9.10pm
Al Ain: Tonight at 10.50pm, Friday at 11.40pm
Fans of energetic and eclectic performances will not be disappointed when Transglobal Underground, a London-based music collective who specialise in a fusion of Western, Asian and African music styles using culturally-diverse instrumentation, hit the stage tomorrow.
tabloid! caught up with one of the founding members of the band, Tim Whelan, ahead of their arrival in the capital about the band’s relationship with Womad and his take on the current music fusion scene ahead of their arrival in the capital.
“I live in Paris, but Transglobal Underground is based in the UK. Everyone’s scattered around nowadays, but we’re going to meet in London just before we travel to Abu Dhabi. It’s going to be our first visit to the UAE and we can’t wait to start exploring.
“Womad and we go way back. I remember when the festival first started, it wasn’t very big and we ended up with a group of people in a tent located at the end of the festival’s area! What’s nice is that even as they have grown over the years, they’ve still kept most of their original ideas,” he added.
Transglobal Underground’s line-up changes frequently and their music uses sounds from all over the world — instruments such as the tabla, dhol and conga. The band also has a reputation for flamboyant live performances featuring dramatic costumes.
“Ten years after we started using Arabic styles in our music, Timbaland, Missy Elliott and many other high profile singers began to use samples in their tracks. But they were just taking one type of pop and combining it with another type of pop. Nowadays it seems that many Western songs are becoming Arabised and many Arabic songs are becoming Western — each is losing its uniqueness.”
Abu Dhabi: Tonight at 00.30am
(workshop); Friday at 10.10pm
Le Trio Joubran
Don’t let Le Trio Joubran’s choice of instrument of fool you.
“We’re three crazy oud players from Palestine. We won’t be performing traditional songs. Our performance will have drama, fire and joy. We don’t target a specific audience but prefer that our music reach as much people as possible,” Samir Joubran, the eldest brother, told tabloid! over the phone.
The brothers — Samir, Wissam and Adnan — are no strangers to the UAE, having performed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi several times, their most recent appearance being at the Dubai International Film Festival.
“You know, even though we won the award for Best Composer at DIFF, we weren’t even there to collect it. We were in Paris!” Samir said.
“We had left the day before because we didn’t know we were going to win. When we landed in Paris, I got a call that we had won, which was great, especially since [Adieu Gary] wasn’t a Palestinian film but a French one,” he added.
The award signalled that they had arrived on the international music scene. “I’m always asking myself whether our success is because of our nationality or because of our music. This [award] showed that we as artists can produce music for everyone around the world to enjoy. We were even approached by several well-known artists, but we turned them down because of artistic differences,” Samir said.
The brothers are currently promoting their latest album, In the Shade of Words, where they perform pieces that accompany the late Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry. They are considering translating his works into French, German and even Japanese for their upcoming tour.
“We are also performing with, in my opinion, one of the greatest guitar players in the world, Rodrigo y Gabriela. Their latest album, 11:11, which is a tribute to artists who had inspired them — alongside names such as Jimi Hendrix, Santana — you find our names, which is surreal,” Samir said. “I feel that it’s a big responsibility, we’re going to perform with them onstage for about 15 minutes,” he added.
So what can we expect from Womad? “We have so much planned for our concerts. It’s really going to be a special experience. It’s not only an honour to be a part of the event but it’s also going to be great coming back to Abu Dhabi to perform,” he said.
Abu Dhabi: North Stage, tonight at 9.05pm
Al Ain: Friday at 8.45pm
As their name suggests, Babylon Circus is not your run-of-the-mill band. The French ska-punk/alternative rock band, which was formed in Lyon in 1995, credits a wide variety of influences, including reggae, British punk, jazz, cabaret, and even circus music, to name a few.
tabloid! caught up with the band’s founder and lead singer, David Baruchel, in Paris where the band is resting after a hectic tour that included performances in New Zealand, Poland and even a Womad concert in Australia before they head this way.
“I’ve been dreaming about Babylon Circus since I was five. I remember one day my uncle took me to see his street band instead of taking me to school, telling me that there would always be another day for learning. They taught me how to play music in the street, and now, here I am,” David said.
“This is our first time in Abu Dhabi, but we actually performed in Syria in 2003. It was a very interesting experience. We met a lot of people and actually ended up living in the same building as them! We discovered a lot of things that we wouldn’t have known about if we had travelled around the country as tourists,” Baruchel explained.
The nine-member band credit not only their experiences in helping to inspire their material but also draw a lot on their favourite artists to help them re-discover their music and help it evolve over the years.
“We’re all very curious and our sound reflects that. We’re constantly listening to different music and unconsciously, those elements become a part of our style — it’s a kind of evolution in a way,” Baruchel said.
So what can we expect from them today?
“If you want to see something different, hear something you’ve never heard before then come and join the fun! We’ve done over 1,000 concerts and have not had a bad experience yet,” Baruchel said.
Abu Dhabi: Tonight at 10.40pm
They are all here!
If you were concerned that any of the artists you were hoping to see would not be able to make it, then fret not.
All the artists originally lined up for this year’s festival are all coming to perform. “Many [artists] were based in Paris, so we chartered a flight for over 100 artists to travel from there to Abu Dhabi,” said Abdullah Al Ameri, Director of the Department of Culture and Arts.
Festival-goers will be given extra treats in the form of documentary movie screenings each night at Womad Abu Dhabi’s Trispan tent.
tabloid’s pick of what not to miss
This French group will be creating a special recipe inspired by their home country during the Taste the World workshop.
Where: Trispan Tent
Time: 7.10 – 8.10pm
Damian Jr Gong Marley
Son of late Reggae legend Bob Marley, Damian’s unique sounds and styles are a perfect way to end the three day festival, with a chilled out vibe that is all his own, and perhaps a little of his father too.
Where: North Stage
Time: 23.10pm – 00:10