WOMADelaide Day 2 - Saturday 11 Mar

Womadelaide 2017Arts Projects Australia. Botanic Park. Fri Mar 10 – Mon Mar 13

After a good night’s rest, the world music fun continues! Saturday hosts a huge range and variety of acts from around the world, and finds me dancing and grooving away well into the night. More on that later…


A standout from today included multi-country act Sinkane.

Hailing from Sudan originally, Sinkane (aka Ahmed Gallab) are now based in Brooklyn, New York, and their music is an interesting mix of Africa and America. The overall vibe is one of soul and blues, but the guitar lines, grooves and chord structures all have elements of East Africa running throughout.


As a big fan of East African music (especially Ethiopian stuff), the underlying African sounds really come to the fore for me, and enhance the otherwise western sounds. It is an interesting mix, as normally western music has a lot of its roots in West African sounds, but hearing the East African elements in this brand of soul is quite refreshing!


From Africa and America, I travel to the Orient for something pretty special. Turkey’s BaBa ZuLa play on the intimate Zoo stage, and have the fortune of a 90-minute set time meaning not only am I lucky enough to catch these guys up close and personal, but we also score a bonus half-hour of music!


Describing BaBa ZuLa is not so easy! They’re a mix of so many different things, combined in a way that is truly unique. The band consists of a percussionist on normal acoustic drums (mainly a brilliant darbuka), a percussionist playing some cymbals, a floor tom and a DJ desk, a percussionist playing an electronic drum pad, a guy playing an electric oud, a guy playing a saz (another Turkish lute), and a female singer. They blend traditional Turkish sounds (think more Eastern than Balkan), elements of dub reggae, psychedelia, and even hard rock, making a sound that really does have something for everyone! I find myself bobbing along to mellow grooves, swaying to Eastern melodies, and rocking out to oud and saz metal! It’s very cool! Add to the mix an eclectic looking bunch, complete with frizzy hair, funky pom-pommed beanies, and the maddest Chopper-esque facial hair, and you know you’re in for a bit of fun.


At one point, the saz player decides to move into the crowd, and does so by walking on a couple of chairs. After stepping out onto them he got the crowd to move the first chair around and continue the path away from the stage; I’m pleased to say I was one of the dudes helping him along!


These guys are a lot of fun, and it is a blast dancing down the front. It all has to come to an end eventually, but I’m sure BaBa ZuLa would have continued well beyond their allocated time if they had the chance!


After such an awesome act, it’s hard to imagine anything that could top it. But the next group does… and they are fellow Mediterranean’s no less!

Serbia’s Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra take to the main stage to round out Saturday night, and boy, do they put on a spectacular show! A Serbian work colleague of mine pops his WOMADelaide cherry to see these guys and it is great fun hanging out with his Serbian crew while these guys completely shake the festival to its core!


Again it is a mix of so many different things, Balkan folk sounds underpin the music throughout, with elements of jazz, blues, rock and more peppered in between for good measure. A huge act with an even bigger stage presence, the ten piece band grows to include a whole host of extras when Emir and his guys coax ‘dancers’ from the VIP section side stage to join them for a number or two (I use the term dancers loosely, but at least they all looked like they were having fun!).


Emir is a giant in his home country, and has a sizable audience around the world, particularly in Latin America, where his ode to cerveza obviously has a certain resonance. They play a tune about Romeo and Juliet, where a “Juliet” is also summoned from the VIP section, and being partly in English, this tune gets everyone singing along! For the rest of it, where singing is reserved for the sizable Serbian contingent in the crowd, dancing was order of the day, and with infectious Balkan rhythms driving the music along, it is impossible not to groove along and jump around!


There are interesting stories - interludes from a variety of places (the Pink Panther theme kept cropping up between songs!) - and tunes from Emir’s movie career, which is equally as prestigious as his musical one (check him out on IMDB!). Perhaps a highlight came in the form of the fiddle “duel” fought by Mr Heineken on violin and Emir himself, where the bow is placed in various precarious locations, including in Emir’s pants, while a perfect bit of fiddling was still had. It all culminates in a fiddle and guitar duel on a giant bow held up by some eager volunteers! It is a brilliant set, and being the final act of the night, allowed to run to a full 90 minutes too.

A seriously good way to end the day!


Luke Balzan


When: 10 to 13 Mar

Where: Botanic Park

Bookings: womadelaide.com.au

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