WOMAD New Zealand 2012

Master Drummers of Burundi whose early ‘80s performance inspired the first WOMAD festival in 1982.
One of the inspirations behind the very first WOMAD festival will head to WOMAD New Zealand 2012, along with a line-up of musicians, bands and performers from all corners of the globe.


One of the inspirations behind the very first WOMAD festival will head to WOMAD New Zealand 2012, along with a line-up of musicians, bands and performers from all corners of the globe.

The programme for WOMAD New Zealand 2012  features the Master Drummers of Burundi whose early ‘80s performance inspired the first WOMAD festival in 1982.

One of the inspirations behind the very first WOMAD festival will head to WOMAD New Zealand 2012, along with a line-up of musicians, bands and performers from all corners of the globe.

The programme for WOMAD New Zealand 2012  features the Master Drummers of Burundi whose early ‘80s performance inspired the first WOMAD festival in 1982.

Artistic director Drew James says it is apt to mark the 30th anniversary of WOMAD internationally by bringing the truly spectacular Master Drummers of Burundi to New Zealand.

"Once again we have managed to secure a brilliant line-up for WOMAD New Zealand with a particularly strong African contingent headed by the drummers along with one of the greatest stories of triumph over hardship, Staff Benda Bilili; and the up and coming livewire Dobet Gnahore.

“With another 15 countries represented, alongside a strong New Zealand flavour, WOMAD New Zealand 2012 will bring new sounds and experiences from all over the world."

WOMAD New Zealand 2012 takes place at New Plymouth’s Brooklands Park and TSB Bowl of Brooklands from 16-18 March. Early bird tickets are on sale now until Friday 11 November.

With artists hailing from 17 countries including Palestine, China, Japan, Ivory Coast, France, Romania and Burundi, WOMAD New Zealand 2012 is truly an international festival.

Described by Rolling Stone Magazine as "Australia's most important voice", Gurrumul returns to WOMAD for the 2012 Festival. Solo performances by this multi-award winning musician are rare treats for music lovers. Other WOMAD favourites making a return visit are the globetrotting French band Lo'Jo and India's master santoor player Shivkumar Sharma.

From Africa comes the Master Drummers of Burundi; Ivory Coast singer Dobet Gnahore, who is fast becoming known as one of Africa’s great female voices; and Staff Benda Bilili – a group of polio-afflicted musicians who were discovered living on the streets and whose music has raw power and fragile delicacy.

Palestine’s Le Trio Joubran features with the great Yousef Hbeisch on percussion; while Europe brings France’s ‘Mad Hatter’ Chapelier Fou – a classically trained violinist who melds together classical, electronic and acoustic sounds looping string instruments and a synthesizer; Spain’s Diego Guerrero y El Solar de Artistas and Romanian Gypsy funksters Mahala Rai Banda. The UK's Mad Professor – known for the Ariwa studio and label and for the Dub Me Crazy albums – mixes dub sounds at WOMAD New Zealand 2012; while the Sharon Shannon Big Band from Ireland mixes rock, funk, Cajun and country.

California’s Groundation’s spiritual roots reggae sound will feature at WOMAD New Zealand 2012; while from China comes Anda Union – a 10-strong band whose music digs deep into traditional Mongolian history. Japan has two acts featuring this year – Pascals, a 14-piece acoustic orchestra featuring a variety of toy instruments; and Sivouplait, a mime couple performing a series of short sketches of the perfect couple in love.

Narasirato Pan Pipers from Solomon Islands bring their music and traditions and from Australia comes a strong contingent of musicians including multi award-winning blues and roots musician Ash Grunwald; sassy soulstress Mama Kin; Melbourne’s The Bombay Royale who revive funky and bizarre music from vintage Indian cinema productions; and Latino-tinged roots rockers Watussi.

The New Zealand music line-up features one of the newest music projects – Pajama Club (with Neil and Sharon Finn); ever-popular reggae act The Black Seeds, Adam Page performing solo and with Riki Gooch in Band of Thousands; Christchurch singer songwriter Amiria Grenell; the dynamic Batucada Sound Machine; a special collaboration between Minuit and Wellington-based Indonesian music ensemble Gamelan Taniwha Jaya; blues musician Paul Ubana Jones; award-winning Maori kapa haka from Te Matarae I Orehu; original ukulele trio The Nukes; and The Yoots performing their blend of calypso-ska and country-soul.

"With more artists to be announced in January 2012, WOMAD 2012 is shaping up to be one of the best," Drew James said.

WOMAD New Zealand 2012 is the eighth WOMAD to be held at the stunning New Plymouth site.

As well as 30 hours of music on the seven stages, WOMAD New Zealand 2012 features artists in conversation, Taste the World – this year hosted by Masterchef runner-up Jax, artist workshops, a global village, sustainable village, Kidzone and the option to camp at the adjacent racecourse. Seniors have special viewing platforms at the three main stages with seating, shade and free water sponsored by TSB Bank.

WOMAD is an international festival created by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Brooman in 1982. Since then 21 countries have hosted the festival and entertained millions of festival goers.

Tickets for WOMAD New Zealand 2012 are now on sale through Ticketek. Early bird three-day adult tickets are available for $199 until Friday 11 November with 300 early bird youth tickets available for $154 until they sell out. Camping tickets are also available including Ezicamp options which include rental of a tent and air bed for $130 (including camping fee). All tickets are subject to Ticketek transaction fees and are available through Ticketek on 0800 TICKETEK (842 538). The full line-up and detailed information is available on the WOMAD website.

Womad NZ 2012 Line-Up

  • The Internationals

Anda Union (China): Anda Union is a stunning 10-piece ensemble that unearths bygone music from across the ancient Mongolian tribes. Digging deep into Mongol traditions, this acoustic group combines the morin huur, or horse head fiddle, with a range of traditional instruments and the majesty of throat singing.

Ash Grunwald (Australia): Award-winning blues musician Ash Grunwald plays a unique one man band style of the blues with acoustic guitar and foot percussion consisting of a stomp box and tambourine.

Chapelier Fou (France): Louis Warynski is the 21st century one man band. The 26-year-old violin virtuoso, in the guise of Chapelier Fou (The Mad Hatter), embraces samplers and digital delay loops to create intricately-layered sound textures. It’s a rare balance between formal classical structure and sweet, quirky electronica, with an air of romantic grandeur.

Diego Guerrero y El Solar de Artistas (Spain): His voice and guitar carries the raw, grainy expressiveness that characterises the passion of true flamenco, yet Diego Guerrero is a bold innovator. He fuses Afro-Cuban rhythms of tango and copla, salsa and jazz into flamenco – a blend reflected in his septet, drawn from Spain, Cuba and Mauritius.

Dobet Gnahore (Ivory Coast): Dobet Gnahoré stands at the frontline of West African music as a complete artist – singer, dancer, percussionist and songwriter. She merges African roots with the European influence of her French guitarist, partner and co-writer Colin Laroche de Feline, capturing a rare power in the delivery and purpose of her songs.

Groundation (Jamaica/USA): Capturing the essence of true roots reggae, Groundation also blends jazz and dub into their sound. Since 1998, singer Harrison Stafford, keyboard player Marcus Urani and bass player Ryan Newman have steered a floating nine-piece line-up through nine albums of collective improvisation with a dip into funky horns and Afro-Latin polyrhythms.

Gurrumul (Australia): His soaring, pure voice is the most distinctive and important in Australian music today. Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu captivated the world with his debut, Gurrumul, an album of immense poise and beauty. Sung in his native Yolngu tongue atop sparse acoustic accompaniment, his mesmerising sound is captured afresh on his multi award-winning 2011 album, Rrakala.

Le Trio Joubran (Palestine): The oud holds outstanding importance in Palestinian culture, and three gifted brothers – Samir, Wissam and Adnan Joubran, hailing from Nazareth – bring new life to this ancient instrument. The trio now performs with the superb percussionist Yousef Hbeisch and their magnificent improvisations are rich, subtle and beautiful.

Lo’Jo (France): When French poet Denis Pean and violinist Richard Bourreau formed Lo’Jo, they looked far beyond their homeland for inspiration. With gypsy fiddle, chanson, Berber desert music, African talking drums and even elements of Caribbean groove, Lo’Jo’s exotic and bewitching songs flit between griot fables and humanist musings, mingling French, Spanish, Arabic, Creole and English.

Mad Professor (UK): Dubbed by schoolmates ‘Mad Professor’ for his fascination with electronics, Guyana-born Neil Fraser has become dub music’s king of engineering and production. He has contributed to almost 200 albums, from Lee "Scratch" Perry to Sly and Robbie, Sade and Horace Andy, and found international fame for remixing Massive Attack’s Protection.

Mahala Rai Banda (Romania): Gypsy campfire tunes distilled into the raucous din of Balkan Mafia clubs – this is the essence of the racy Romanian roots-rockers, Mahala Rai Banda. The 11-piece band kicks serious brass with fierce 21st century gypsy funk, hints of dub and soul, Turkish and Arabic assimilated into a roaring dance mix.

Mama Kin (Australia): Mama Kin’s bittersweet melodies soar with stomping piano and swampy beats, all the while traversing the riotous, the raw and the intimate.

Master Drummers of Burundi (Burundi): The vibrant power and precision of 20 hand-carved drums played in complex rhythms has mesmerised western audiences since Burundi’s former royal drummers started touring internationally in the 1960s. Considered among the world’s best percussion ensembles, the drummers gyrate and leap as they play, heightening the intensity and spectacle.

Narasirato Pan Pipers (Solomon Islands): Narasirato play tribal music that has been the main medium for communicating Are'are tradition and culture through 75 generations. Comprising only traditional panpipes, the group’s music has an astoundingly modern feel, reminiscent of contemporary dance music - a point very much in evidence during recent shows at the Glastonbury and Roskilde festivals.

Pascals (Japan): Wacky, playful and frivolous, this unique 16-piece acoustic orchestra taps into our inner child, with music created on a whimsical array of toy instruments. Embracing Western-tinged ballads, toy piano sambas, waltzes, polkas and pop songs, Pascals lace the most unlikely type of ballroom fanfares with whimsy, wit and joy.

Sharon Shannon Big Band (Ireland): Sharon Shannon squeezes fresh sounds and new inspiration from the accordion, bravely reaching beyond Irish traditional music to embrace Cajun, country and classical. Her collaborators include Bono, Sinead O’Connor, Steve Earle, The Waterboys, Willie Nelson, Nigel Kennedy and Shane MacGowan – many having featured as guests in her roaring eight-piece Big Band.

Shivkumar Sharma (India): Shikumar Sharma has reinterpreted the role of the santoor, a 100-string hammered dulcimer, from its Kashmir folk origins into a distinctive Indian classical instrument. Accompanied by heralded tabla master Yogesh Samsi and Takahiro Arai on tanpura, the long-necked lute, Shikumar strikes the perfect balance between melody and rhythm.

Sivouplait (Japan): This curious Japanese couple are always talking about love – yet they never use words. Think of mime like Manga and you get the very animated picture behind “A silent couple in humorous white”, Nozomi Horie and Takeshi Shibasaki’s gentle street theatre satire on the perfect couple in love.

Staff Benda Bilili (Democratic Republic of Congo): Handicapped by polio and discovered living rough on the streets of Kinshasa, Staff Benda Bilili’s singers, guitarists and percussionists have become a global sensation. The pulse of their Congolese rumba echoes the sounds of Havana, Kingston and Harlem, and their energetic live performances are nothing short of joyous and inspirational.

The Bombay Royale (Australia): Melbourne band The Bombay Royale is reviving funky, bizarre and mysterious music from vintage Indian cinema productions. Dedicated to dusting off relics from 1960s and 1970s Bollywood soundtracks, the ensemble recreates an unusually broad and eclectic spread of musical styles.

Watussi (Australia): Having sold out countless shows with blustering horns, party-fuelled rhythms and rocking roots bass-lines, Watussi is a well-travelled troupe of Latino-tinged roots rockers.

  • The New Zealand Acts

Adam Pagesolo and with Riki Gooch: Critically acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Adam Page is at the forefront of a new and unique style of performing, recording live instruments into loop pedals and spontaneously composing intricate grooves in many different styles. At WOMAD New Zealand 2012, he performs solo and with well- known New Zealand musician Riki Gooch (Trinity Roots) as Band of Thousands, combining their rich musical backgrounds to produce a genre mashing new sound for the dance floor.

Amiria Grenell: Amiria Grenell has been performing at music festivals, events and venues throughout New Zealand since childhood. Her imaginative songwriting and guitar playing has impressed audiences around Aotearoa.

Batucada Sound Machine: A dynamic 10-piece group, the band’s three-piece samba/reggae percussion line-up and all star horn section intertwine Brazilian, funk, hip-hop, reggae, afro-beat and Pacific soul influences.

Minuit vs Gamelan Taniwha Jaya: Kiwi band Minuit has been jigglin' hips in Berlin and beyond. Fronted by the enigmatic Ruth Carr with bandmates Ryan Beehre and Paul Dodge, Minuit delivers an inventive indie arsenal which never loses sight of the desire to create fantastic dance songs. At WOMAD New Zealand 2012 they will be joined by Gamelan Taniwha Jaya – an Indonesian music ensemble based at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington.

Pajama Club: The new project from legendary Crowded House member Neil Finn, together with his wife Sharon Finn, Sean James Donnelly, and The Grates’ drummer Alana Skyring. They have been described as a less atonal Sonic Youth jamming with 'Tango in the Night' era Fleetwood Mac.

Paul Ubana Jones: One man, an acoustic guitar, and the grittiest blues voice in the world – Paul Ubana Jones is a unique and powerful talent.

Taste the World: WOMAD New Zealand 2012 artists join Masterchef New Zealand runner-up Jax to cook traditional dishes from their lands and talk about music.

Te Matarae i Orehu: Founded by distinguished Maori tohunga Irirangi Tiakiawa, Te Matarae i Orehu continually push the boundaries of traditional Maori performing arts in a contemporary society. Te Matare i Orehu are the 2011 Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival champions.

The Black Seeds: Originating from Wellington, The Black Seeds have carved out their reputation through platinum selling albums, a masterful eight-piece live show, and a unique sound that fuses infectious grooves and melodies with undiluted roots music.s

The Nukes: Hailing from the hills and valleys west of Auckland, The Nukes is an all-original trio who take audiences to new levels of appreciation through clever, heart-felt and humour-laden gigs that are simply contagious.

The Yoots: Formed by Hopepa (Joe Lindsay, trombonist for Fat Freddy’s Drop) The Yoots have set out to navigate a musical passage somewhere between calypso-ska and country-soul, adding in well-known melodies from Aotearoa – Hine e Hine meets calypso boogie.

Written by

Taranaki Arts Festival Trust

26 Oct 2011

Interests TAFT’s primary focus is to provide for the community of Taranaki access to high quality affordable events and festivals. We endeavour to present world class events through a world class organisation in world class venues.

Nidi D'Arac
Story / Music, Management & Admin
Alessandro Coppola from Nidi D'Arac (pronounced nee-dee dah-rak) of Italy answers a few questions.