Various Artists: Womad; The World's Festival (Carte!l)

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Savoy Family Cajun Band: Sugar Bee
Various Artists: Womad; The World's Festival (Carte!l)

At a recent lecture-cum-talk to music-performance students about "world music" and what a sippery creature it is, I was asked what the common thread or identifying feature it might be.

Aside from the obvious answer (none) I just said without much thought "rhythm . . . and beat" and then stumbled into the idea that much Western pop etc (outside of r'n'b) which they were familiar with had been uncoupled from dance . . . but if you went to a Womad many of the bands would have dancers (or would dance themselves) and for the most part the audience most certainly would.

It was a wobbly answer but I'm going to cite this Australian/NZ compilation CD as supporting evidence: It starts with the great Salif Keita with Samfy from his Tale (which includes a spot-that-sound sample from the B52's Planet Claire), rocks off into the Aleave Family's percussion-driven Boe Boe (interviewed here), then Antibalas' post-Fela Afrobeat Dirty Money (I defy you not to shake a tail feather to this, they are interviewed here), then for cheek-to-cheek late-night dancing Amparo Sanchez (from Spain) with Corazon de Realidad . . .

Lau from Scotland -- award-winners in UK folk circles, see answers to our Questionnaire here -- slow the pace a little but you can count on the vigorous Serbians to get things movin' and groovin' again when Goran Bregovic turns up with his gutteral Cocktail Molotov (a clue, it's from the album Tales and Songs From Weddings and Funerals) then it's into the beat-driven and slippery walking bass of the jazzy Correspondents from Britain . . .

There are quieter, more meditative and reflective acts at this year's Womad, but this 16-song collection -- which includes the jazz manoeuvres of Hugh Masekela, some cajun music, edgy reggae from Jimmy Cliff's terrific Grammy-winning album Rebirth (he's interviewed here) and closes with Fly My Pretties' It's Never Blown Like It's Goin' from A Story -- errs towards the dance/upbeat end of the spectrum.

I'm happy with that.

Just wish I'd had a copy to throw at that music student to seal my case. 

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AngelaS - Feb 17, 2013

Hmmm, but what about some of the British [and others] folky stuff that ends up being with WOMAD or Songlines compilations - not necessarily dance linked, terribly folky. I thought it was the link with indigenous music that was most important to make it World Music.

Gavin Hancock - Feb 17, 2013

Hey AngelaS. WOMAD stands for World Of Music And Dance so I guess all acts who appear fall within that broad definition. As for the term "world music" it's very, very loosely defined.

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