By Melanie Sjoberg
ADELAIDE — WOMAD '95 (in Botanic Park, February 24-26) promises to be a more exciting and diverse event as its reputation grows on the international music scene. The International Year of Tolerance and beginning of the Decade for the World's Indigenous People provide backdrops to this cultural fest.
The program this year reflects a growing interest in Australian indigenous performance. The already popular Tiddas return after hitting the overseas arena at WOMAD in Bath and Reading. Vika and Linda Bull are also gaining mainstream recognition with a hit single. Other indigenous performers include Christine Anu, Sunrize Band (a mix of swinging Arnhem Land and Henrix), Bangerra Dance Theatre, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, Yoingu Dance and Adelaide band Rough Image. Green Left Weekly will be following up interviews with some of these performers.
Zap Mama, an evocative a cappella sound from Zaire, are well worth catching along with Papa Wemba, also hailing from Zaire. Geoffrey Oryema returns after enthralling everyone at the last WOMAD. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan promises a unique experience of qawwali, devotional music. The Ukrainian Cossack tradition of Kashtan offers another alternative style.
Latin American rhythms can be found in the Cuban sound of Sierra Maestra and Adelaide-based Kona-lien. Otherwise you can explore the Celtic folk-influenced sounds of the Borderers, Yungchen Lhamo from Tibet, Greek rebetiko performed by the Rockin' Rembets or the cross-cultural blend of Silvanje. Then for something completely different, tune into the blues/rap radical music and poetry of Gil Scott Heron.
There are many more exciting performers on the program. This is a true festival being accompanied by an array of stalls selling arts and crafts, as well as international solidarity and environmental awareness themes. The idyllic garden setting in Adelaide serves to enhance the event.