28 July 2014

the big bang

E V E N T || WOMAD festival, day three

I can't believe it, WOMAD has come to an end already and what a Big Bang ending! We had such a great time on day two that we came into day three buzzing. The line up looked like we would be spending most of our time on the main stages [Open Air & Siam Tent] which was ideal as we wanted to do a little bit of shopping and I wanted to win with food on the final day. That we did, and the music was just as fantastic as the previous two days - no clear favourites as they all genuinely made my WOMAD this year. I was particularly moved by Les Ambassadeurs, the kings of West African music, reunited and incredible as ever, playing the final day of WOMAD out as the sun was setting in the background. Seriously good vibes today, with the whole weekend comfortably being in my Top Three of all WOMADs I've been to. Until next year, massive thank you's to WOMAD & fRoots mag for a super epic weekend of music, food and sunshine.

top & hat [Madagascar - traditional cloth & hat]
shorts [Zara]
kicks [+Converse]

T H E F O O D ||

breakfast || It was so good on Saturday that we decided on the same combo of Happy Crepes [I had pears, roasted almonds & honey and Ellie had spinach, cheese & mushrooms] and vanilla iced lattes from The Love Coffee Cafe for brunch. Fruit and pancakes are such a winning combination my morning started off nicely with a happy belly.

lunch || Mid-shopping and browsing, Ellie and I craved a snack so went over to the Shepherds ice cream stall [for the second time over the weekend] - I had ginger & tayberry ice cream with honeycomb and Ellie had ginger ice cream in a cone. About an hour later, it was clearly not enough for my belly because I then started craving savoury. One of the jewellery stall owners recommended Moorish, a Moroccan stall nearby [which I'd already heard some good feedback about], so off I went to join a long queue [clearly very popular!]. I ended up choosing a spicy lamb bourek consisting of spicy lamb merguez, feta cheese and spices in a filo pastry case which came with salad, stuffed vine leaf and vegetable sauce. I also bought a refreshing hibiscus drink to compliment the spice. Sooo delicious, super nom!

learning || Mid-afternoon, I decided to head over to the Taste the World area for the first time ever. I'd heard that Justin Vali & Ny Malagasy Orkestra were going to play a few more tunes which some Malagasy food was being cooked up for curious festivalers. It's a lovely concept where bands can bring a cook who knows about their local cuisine and creates it live in front of an audience. The band are then there to entertain while the food [in this case Romazava] is cooking. Great idea which I'll make sure I keep an eye on for future WOMADs - a good opportunity to learn some cooking tips from around the world.

dinner || after seeing Les Ambassadeurs, we were keen to use our one hour gap for some late dinner. I rushed over to my favourite Jamaican stall The Shack to find that they had run out of jerk chicken! I was so sad that I had to go to a competitor stall but there you go - when it's good, everyone knows it's good. I ended up buying jerk chicken with all the sides from Hot Flavours. Ellie went for a falafel meze from Greek Expectations which she said was delicious and the proper stuff from North London. Then as an after dinner tradition, we bought some fresh hot doughnuts from the Real Coffee stall for the drive home - though they were so good they were eaten way before we got to the car to leave.

T H E S H O P P I N G ||

If there's one thing you have to do at WOMAD [aside from the music and the food] - it is the shopping. Even if you are not a shopper type person, trust me - this festival is like a treasure trove of goods from around the globe. There are really unique pieces whether it's clothing or home ware or furniture. You name it, it's probably there and probably beautiful. In my younger years, I used to buy absolutely everything shiny I could find. These days, I am much more considered with my purchases - my go-to's are African print clothing [Loud As You Like is my favourite stall] and African or Silver Jewellery [Saharan Arts & Joam Jewellery are pretty good bets]. A post shall come shortly so you can see what I got my paws on.

The variety also means that the stalls are great for browsing even if you're not buying. Really colourful and lots of items you may not see at other festivals or just in general shops. This also makes it a great place for buying unique presents for family and friends. [1] African print shirts are so fun to wear. [2] Baskets from Ghana, from small to big can be used for jewellery holders to laundry baskets - and all made by hand. [3] A nomadic purse from Mali - this particular one was £100 [steep, I know] and intricately made. [4] Talking of something different, I absolutely loved these mushroom garden chairs. As soon as I sat down, they were so comfortable that I didn't want to move. If I ever have a garden one day, this may have to be one of my future WOMAD purchases!

T H E M U S I C ||

Justin Vali & Ny Malagasy Orkestra, Madagascar
"The world's premier valiha player"
Cathia: I might be a little biased but yeeey Malagasy classics - a bit of hiragasy, a bit of salegy, a bit of all the goodness to get me dancing away to home tunes. Justin is great to watch, he is super speedy on that valiha!
Ellie: This was a brilliant set to start our day to, the sun was out and I had a very happy Cathia next to me. I particularly enjoyed them bringing out all the unusual instruments and giving them a whirl.

Dakha Brakha, Ukraine
"Dizzy dazzling ethno-chaos"
Ellie: While Cathia was chilling backstage, I caught some of this brilliant group's set. It was totally unexpected and song to song you got something totally different.
Cathia: Absolutely gutted I missed seeing this. Could hear them in the background but it resoundingly got excellent feedback - was apparently really moving to watch.

[I wasn't there to take snaps so here is the WOMAD procession for you all to enjoy - woop woop!]

The Chair, Scotland
"Boisterous stomp music from Orkney"
Cathia: I found Ellie bopping away to The Chair after catching up with my peoples. Not my favourite style of music but pretty impressive fiddle-playing and lots of energy. The crowd clearly loved them and so did all the stuffed animals bopping about [a penguin, a meerkat and a dragon].
Ellie: The Chair found themselves unexpectedly on the main stage and at first seemed a little awe struck to be there. That said, I think they hit the ground running and produced a fun set mixing more familiar Scottish folk music recognisable to me with other flavours. I had a good bop!

Fatoumata Diawara & Roberto Fonseca, Mali/Cuba
"Brilliant transatlantic music union"
Cathia: Another powerful duo of the weekend - smooth Cuban grooves married perfectly with the warm and punchy rhythms of Mali. These two clearly appreciate and use each other's musical strengths to the max. Absolutely loved it and was sad to leave before the end [I wanted to get a good spot for Les Ambassadeurs!]. Plus, Fatoumata looked like a proper, radiant African princess on stage!
Ellie: It's not that the music wasn't spectacular - it truly was - but what really struck me was Fatoumata's presence on stage and the personality that effervesced from her start to finish. I found her totally captivating and it would have been easy for Roberto to be overshadowed - his pure talented stopped that from happening. One of my favourites of the day.

Les Ambassadeurs, Mali
"Recharged West African kings return to the thrown"
Cathia: What a set. All the legends, on stage, doing their thing, making the audience and especially me a very happy person. I'll say it once and I'll say it again - Les Ambassadeurs were truly the icing on a weekend of absolutely great music. The super talented team were clearly enjoying themselves too [some amazing solos from all] and as the sun was setting around us, I couldn't help but feel so honoured to have had the experience to see the kings of West African music play again.
Ellie: Even before they started there was something prickling its way through the crowd amping up the excitement levels for this set. Les Ambassadeurs delivered a really fun set that had everyone on their feet. Salif's dancing was definitely a highlight as well as some really brilliant solos from the team.

Oliver Mtukudzi & the Black Spirits, Zimbabwe
"Return of the Zimbabwean legend"
Cathia: The night was chilly, my energy levels were running thin - and then as I stood at the front of the Charlie Gillett stage, I knew my wait had been well rewarded as Oliver Mtukudzi took to the stage. Cool as a cucumber and groovy as ever, his band was tight, the coordinated dance moves were on point and it was just a swell way to end an amazing weekend of WOMAD.
Ellie: Oliver Mtukudzi & the Black Spirits were truly worth the wait. Arriving on stage at 11pm, we had waited around especially to see them and I'm so glad that we did [Cathia: Me too!]. Oliver's guitar skills and dancing feet put a smile firmly on my face. There is something so accessible about his sound, I defy anyone not to enjoy it. Totally brilliant and totally WOMAD.

Were you at WOMAD over the weekend? Link me up if yes, would love to see what you got up to!


27 July 2014


E V E N T || WOMAD festival, day two

Hellooo again! Isn't WOMAD such a treat, you guys get a post every day [hehe]. If you missed what's been happening, you can check out my post on day one. Day two is always a bit of a music marathon - you'll want to see everyone so you'll circle everything on the programme. That's exactly what happened to Ellie and I today. There was so much grooving [and steps] that even my pedometer can confirm I did 19,337 steps today [nearly double my every day goal so highly winning there]. We ran from here there and everywhere and thoroughly enjoyed doing it. Get ready for a mammoth read because we managed to achieve a lot today! Stay tuned for the last day tomorrow, there are definitely more treats in store...

wrap top [London Spitalfields African market, Ghanaian print]
shorts [+Gap ]
kicks [+Converse]

T H E F O O D ||

Breakfast onsite usually makes me feel like I'm on holiday in happy land. We ended up eating Happy Crepes [that's right, they make you real happy] - I had banana and nutella, Ellie had spinach and cheese. This was complimented by the most delicious iced coffee from The Love Coffee Cafe - I had a caramel iced latte and Ellie an amaretto iced latte. A champion breakfast if you ask me.

Now, I have to be honest - food was severely limited today as there was just so much music to be seeing. After breakfast, naturally we kept fuelled and energy levels up via more liquorice. Check out me and my liquorice dealer Peter - he's got a little mobile stall so that when I'm desperate lazy I just run to him rather than trekking to the actual shop about five minutes away. So, Peter to the rescue today. We also had some cake as it was pop-pops birthday, hurray. For dinner [it may sound limited but] I opted for the Real Sausage & Mash Company where I grabbed a tomato & garlic sausage in a hoagy roll with a dollop of hot spinach. It was quick, delicious and hit the right spot as I was running from one stage to the other. 

T H E S I T E ||

Aside from the food and the music, the site is very pretty and full of gems so I thought I would show you some snaps of this. Colourful flags everywhere and shops selling anything and everything from around the world as well as your classic festival gear. We found a stall selling caps, bags and hot air balloons out of drinks cans made in Vietnam which looked fun. I also ended up buying some pretty snazzy African print trousers from Tanzania which will no doubt make an appearance on here in the near future [you've been warned]. WOMAD stalls are genuinely a shopping mecca so come with a budget or you will go crazy. Alternatively, get great self control like Ellie and resist until the last day [Sunday] when you will probably get some excellent bargains.

T H E M U S I C || dancetastic

Siyaya, Zimbabwe
"Evergreen drums and dance, now with a poignant First World War focus"
Cathia: Although I only saw Siyaya for one song, they were great to listen to and opened up the day with some sunny songs. Of what I saw, the dancing was pretty fun too.
Ellie: Though I did not see this band at all, they supplied some toe tapping beats to compliment our conversation in the bar next door.

Martin Simpson & Dom Flemons, UK/USA
"Guitar guru meets banjo balladeer"
Cathia: I was so gutted to have missed the start of this set because I loved what I saw. A perfect duo - Martin's banjo playing and Dom's epic bones playing got me grooving away. A lovely set and one of my clear favourites of the day!
Ellie: This set was both entertaining and educational. I loved Dom and Martin's conversational style and this truly talented duo made for a great WOMAD experience.

Anna Cinzia Villani & the Macuran Orchestra, Italy
"The protector of Salento's musical traditions"
Cathia: Anna had a very powerful voice for such a petite lady which was not only surprising but impressive. Much more mellow than my usual music choice but lovely to listen to in the sun.
Ellie: Anna Cinzia Villani had a haunting, unique and powerful sound. I was surprised her orchestra was so small but they complimented her voice really well, I particularly liked the double bassist.

Kobo Town, Trinidad/Canada
"Gate keepers of calypso, much more besides…"
Cathia: We weren't planning to catch Kobo Town but they sounded so fun as we walked past that we had to stop for a little boogie. The crowd were loving them and the atmosphere was buzzing.
Ellie: Kobo Town were not what I was expecting of a Canadian calypso band. As Cathia says, they caught our attention as we were passing by, groovy tunes brah.

Muyayo Rif, Spain
"Roof raising Catalan ska"
Cathia: Had some fun dancing to these guys in some open space behind a pogoing audience. Clearly a fun bunch rocking the afternoon away.
Ellie: I had high expectations for this group and they truly delivered some roof raising ska for sure [even though were outdoors]. I had great fun dancing in the sunshine.

Yaaba Funk, UK
"Afrobeat and highlife with a London accent"
Cathia: I am a Londoner who had never heard of these guys and am ashamed. What a fun and colourful bunch - a real mix of African rhythms with some groovy Afrobeat equals a happy dancing Cathia.
Ellie: The facial expressions alone were worth the show. This expressive bunch pumped out the dancing tunes.

Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopia
"The architect of Ethio-jazz"
Cathia: I'm not sure why this wasn't immediately circled on my programme given one of my favourite albums of the last few years has been Ethiopiques. If you don't recognise, you might soon enough because Mulatu Astatke is the original genius behind many tracks including the beat of As We Enter by Nas & Damian Marley on Distant Relatives. I love jazz and when Ethiopiques came out it was an immediate winning formula for me. I ate "dinner" while grooving to Mulatu Astatke this evening and am so glad I did because it was super groovy - had me dancing and humming all the way to the next gig...

Fat Freddy's Drop, New Zealand
"The fourteen legged reggae soul groove machine"
Cathia: These guys were a clear crowd favourite, particular with the teens - understandably so as it was like they were throwing a great big party in the Siam tent. I enjoyed dancing to their music but had to come out of air as the heat and sweat got a bit much!
Ellie: Aside from the sweaty armpit in my face, crammed into the Siam tent, I have real respect for this group's sound. Trippy, melodic, soulful equals eclectic to the extreme.

Youssou N'Dour et Le Super Etoile de Dakar, Senegal
"Do you really need an introduction?"
Cathia: What a treat. Superstar and legend Uncle Youssou did not disappoint. Super Etoile were super tight, Youssou's voice was beautiful as ever and I felt like I had been transported to an open air stage in Senegal. Gold stars everywhere and even more when I got a snap with him!
Ellie: Youssou and his super team's explosive performance had everyone, young and old, on their feet. Each of them were brilliant entertainers which made everyone including me happy happy happy.