Year after year, WOMAD never fails to impress, and this year’s festival in Charlton Park was no exception.
As expected there were some incredible acts that graced the stages of WOMAD on the last weekend of July, but there were a couple that really stood out for me. On Friday evening at 9.30pm we headed over to the Big Red Tent to check out Craig Charles’ Funk and Soul DJ set. When we got into the crowded tent he was playing a great remix of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ and as we weaved our way to the front of the tent he worked his way through an eclectic mix of tunes from the Jackson 5’s ‘ABC’ to Dawn Penn’s ‘You Don’t Love Me’. The best thing about his set, however, was how much he was enjoying himself. Every song he played, you could tell that he loved it. He really ended the night in the arena on a massive high.
Another highlight was Sam Lee and Friends who, after a tricky sound check performed the traditional traveller ballads beautifully. Every instrument (and I lost count of how many there were!) added another level to the music and I applaud the violinist Flora whole-heartedly for her impressive rendition of the nightingale’s song. It was a fantastic set. Their ‘Ballad of George Collins’ had me dancing and two songs later I was in tears during ‘Goodbye England’. It was an emotional experience, and we even got the chance to meet Jonah afterwards! A great Sunday afternoon!
But the musical experience of WOMAD wasn’t limited to the acts announced on the line-up. You see, in WOMAD’s World of Wellbeing there are a few instruments and if you’re lucky enough to bump into a pianist you should drag them off to the elusive piano in the woods. You’d be surprised how musical everyone becomes when a piano is being played at 4am!
Of course I can’t forget to mention Molly’s Green Bar, the campers’ local. When we arrived at the site and had a look around, we were very disappointed with the location. Usually it is very much a campsite bar, staying open far later than everywhere else, whereas this year it was strangely situated right in between the World of Wellbeing and the children’s area of the festival. Why the organisers decided to put it next to the two places most likely to be disturbed I couldn’t tell you, but that didn’t stop it from being a place to go to guarantee yourself a good night!
And there’s more to the festival than the music. As WOMAD is the self-proclaimed World’s Festival, you’d expect nothing less than a fantastic array of world cuisine, and every year, my expectations are exceeded. I personally love a good veggie burger – and I think I found the perfect bun at WOMAD this year – but if you ever get the chance to visit the festival, make sure you take a trip the North-African/Moorish food stall and get yourself a lamb bourek (made with goat’s cheese and served with all kinds of lovely things). It is genuinely one of the nicest meals I have ever had.
So combine all of that with some of the best people you could hope to meet at a festival, shisha, chai tents and an amazing vintage fairground, nothing could have ruined such an amazing weekend. I recommend it to everyone!