Off to WOMAD for A Long Weekend of World Music, Back on Monday


A comparatively rare sunny interlude at the often rather wet WOMAD 2015 (Photo: Andy Worthington).My friends,

I’m off to WOMAD, the wonderful world music festival in Wiltshire, for the 15th year running, with a posse of good friends and their families. I’ll be back on Monday. My wife has been running children’s workshops since our kids were tiny toddlers, when WOMAD was still by the river in Reading, and now our kids are young men and the festival is happily settled into Charlton Park near Malmesbury, a wonderful site.

I never quite know who’s going to be on. One of the great joys of WOMAD is being surprised by wonderful musicians from all round the world — and, for me, especially, Africa — so I’ll report back later on my discoveries. I do know that Asian Dub Foundation are the welcoming band on the Friday night, and that George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic will be wowing us at some point.

I also hope that my band The Four Fathers (on Twitter here!) will be playing the Open Mic at Molly’s Bar at some point over the weekend, and I already know that my son Tyler (The Wiz-RD) will be beatboxing and providing some spoken word pieces at the Hip Yak Poetry Shack.

And if the sun deigns to shine on us, there’ll be plenty of hanging out and, in crew camping, probably more guitars than you can shake a stick at, and lots of acoustic versions of Four Fathers songs  — and Bob Dylan covers.

So while I’m gone, feel free to check out the songs on our recently released Fighting Injustice EP, featuring remixes from our debut album ‘Love and War’. We recently spent two days working on songs for our second album, and I hope the first fruits from those sessions will be winging your way in September, but for now, enjoy!

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

50 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    My friends, I’m away until Monday at WOMAD, the world music festival in Wiltshire. I hope the sun shines. I leave you with some songs by my band The Four Fathers to enjoy in my absence, from the Fighting Injustice EP that we recently released in two versions – one for the UK and one for the US.

  2. damo says...

    Looks and sounds like real fun andy a time and płace to let your hair down ,socialise meet new and interesting people …a gulp of social,mental and emotional …fresh air…..away from london and all the …bs…lol ..whent to see the fabbulass avant gaurd cabaret artist david hoyle at the bethnel green working mens club …he,s realy something attrackting an audience of everyone very sharp,very political very out there …but absolutely spot on …yould love him ,im glad you had a good time…dxx

  3. damo says...

    Theres a program on ch4 called ….nude dateing were the contestants are nude and at first shown from the neck down lol,lol Ooh god ….floppy tits and button dicks …fat bellys and sagging areses,lol the program is the pinnical of cringe …..the decadence of the west,lol

  4. damo says...

    But then i applaud ch4 for showing this programme,lol i can imagine the outrage and high collard blouse clutching in royal tumbridge wells…..its an affront to moral torie family values….im wrighting to……mary whitehouse,lol,lol

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Damo. We got back yesterday, early evening, and I’ve spent the last day and a bit unpacking and generally trying to take it easy and to ease back into city life. Less than a week away, but enough to get off the treadmill of bad news from the sociopaths, psychopaths and idiots running our lives.
    WOMAD was wonderful, not just for the music, but also for the company – good friends, some of whom we see a lot of, some of whom we mainly see at WOMAD. It was a really inspiring tribal vibe.
    I read about Nude Dating – oh, hang on, it was called Naked Attraction. It sounded truly awful. Quite a contrast to some of the festivals I was hearing about at the weekend – ones where nudity is common. I couldn’t tell whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. I’m all for people being free, but I’m so jaded by how relentlessly materialistic everything is that I wonder how free it is. Perhaps it’s just what happens when you’re getting older and you don’t drink or take drugs … the hedonism becomes unimaginable. Oh, the joys of aging … ha!

  6. damo says...

    The program wasnt about bring free it was based on commoditys as there were carefully placed so called beautys ….ie young great bodys ect,ect ….the floppys and buttons dint get a look in ,lol …womad sounded great just away from the city, the news, the world, im reading more and more about people going offgrid, ditching society forming …communitys and communes ….sounds great. Unfortunately the uk is too small lol…im feeling a little jilly jaded at the moment,lol,lol it will pass i also am completely drink and drug free which is good your in the moment and see everything..a bit to much sometimes.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I can’t imagine any of today’s TV execs making a programme about freedom, Damo – as they’re as marinaded as everyone else in the status-obsessed materialism that plagues us all, but that most people don’t recognise as a profound social illness.
    This was the Guardian review I read before I went away last week:
    Very interesting to hear about the off-grid lives you’ve been reading about. I’m so used to the comforts of city life that I find it hard to imagine, but I can see the attraction – and I can imagine that it can only be a growing attraction as the madness of the “civilised” world shows no sign of abating. After all, when people wanted to escape the rat race in the 60s and 70s, it wasn’t anywhere near as ridiculous a rat race as it is now.
    I like your comment about sobriety – “you’re in the moment and see everything … a bit too much sometimes.” That’s very accurate. For the most part, I like not having any escape route out of who I am. It makes one’s identity very coherent, I find, but every now and then I have a slight pang of envy for my friends loosening up and relaxing.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Yvonne Worthington wrote;

    We set off to India in the van in1991. It was held at Reading then.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, Yvonne. We were at Reading the first six years of our children’s workshops before the festival moved to Charlton Park. It’s a great site. I always want to head west afterwards, but we’ve only managed it a few times, and only as far as Cornwall. Setting off for India afterwards has to be the pinnacle of post-festival alternative living!
    Back in 1991, you must have been arriving in India as I was leaving. I was there from March to July 1991. Can’t believe it’s 25 years ago!

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    Hey, Andy! You forgot to pick up your Roadie!!!!! I wanna go!

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Sorry, Jan. I just wasn’t allowed to make that detour via Seattle!

  12. damo says...

    My new high is not to be high,lol i was the pot heads ,pot head,lol for most of my adult life i loved bring stoned i loved it had great times ,lol but its nice to be completely sober and have no vices …maybe its age.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Ha! I used to be out clubbing and people would ask me what I was on, Damo – six pints of cider and roll-ups was the answer!
    Booze and fags were my staples – although they weren’t all I dabbled in, of course!

  14. damo says...

    I believed the line in easy rider… george smoke this first thing in the morning…..itll make you see the day in a whole new way

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    I came to London with a friend when I was 17, Damo, and we stayed in the mews house of one of his dad’s friends – in Mayfair! – and watched art house movies for a long weekend. There used to be a great cinema in Soho – the Roxie, I think – where we saw Easy Rider, and that was an insight into the 60s that was a huge influence on me. I voraciously devoured art house movies at that time – US, Italian, French, British. There was so much great cinema at that time, just as there was so much great music.
    As for Easy Rider, I was also pretty impressed by the acid scene in the graveyard, and by Jack Nicholson’s drinking!

  16. damo says...

    Karen black and toni basil,karen black died last year,easy rider is superb what a period of time that was .

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    I didn’t know Karen Black had died, Damo, but it’s hard to keep track, as so many of the icons of our youth pass away.

  18. damo says...

    Espesh it seems this year ..mark carney seems to be pumping billions into the british economy ….seems like desperate measures

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, David Bowie, Prince, Lemmy, the list goes on. Bowie’s loss was noticeable in our household. He had been particularly creative in the last few years of his life, as his last two albums showed. They are really great work, and put most of his contemporaries to shame.
    As for the economy, yes, it seems it takes a Canadian to try and keep our economy afloat. The Tories caused this mess, those responsible have resigned, but – crucially – those that have taken over seem still to be as economically illiterate. And yet the public don’t seem to be able to put all these facts together. It seems there is no way to get implacable anti-Tory sentiment to take root, as it should.

  20. damo says...

    The intrusive racket that passes for pop now is not even in the same solar system as that of bowie or prince ….the pumping of billions of pounds into the economy is like trying to hold back the tide of recession a desperate measure to hold up a stalling economy the uk is the leper of europe its like some kind of torie mind control

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    I just find so little of it has anything to say, Damo, as well as so often consisting of dreary melodies. There was a feature on C4 News recently about hit songs, and it turns out that one of the biggest selling songs of all time is by Drake – but when they played it it was so boring that I can’t remember it.
    I’m off to Spain on Saturday, and wondering if there will be any evidence of our new status in Europe as the misanthrope who chose to leave the party and then set fire to the house, even though it was our own house. It’s kind of embarrassing, isn’t it, to be honest.

  22. damo says...

    My spannish friends are aghast at this country they think the british are stupid with no pride,no culture, they feel sorry for people here my friends live in barcelona in the cheeper area ….but its beautifull ,clean streets,immaculate ,well behaved people ,fantastic little cafes,bars ,independant shops …clean ….i was at a friends in shoreditch last night he lives on the boundary estate that beautifull red brick built in 1896 right in the center of shoreditch, he,s lived there for 28 years and i lived in hackney for 20 years pre gentrification…..its like the wild west now ….last night all we could here was Screaming, bellowing, howling….just out of control drunk people, violent people…the streets are covered in broken glass, piss, shit, vomit…..wasted food….blood……this is why the uk and its people are seen as lepers…….drake has the most boreing nasal monotone voice i ever heard …the charts are full of ….get this party started records….god spare us.

  23. damo says...

    Shoreditch like most of london used to be a real cool place in the 90s pre gentrification full of interesting creative people the streets were quiet rent was cheep …..then came the greedy uncools ….and gentrifiers…..its now all about the coin……….its over

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    We’re going to Barcelona, Damo. Last went maybe eight years ago, so it will be fun for my son now he’s 16. I went many years ago, before the social cleansing that accompanied the Olympics, when lots of the interesting peripheral people were removed, but it was wonderful on our last visit, and I expect it will be still.
    Brits have often been drunken vandals as far as I can see, Damo. The problem now seems to be that it has no political context. The violence you describe is the result of a culture that has been depoliticised and that’s being played by those in power. People are told by the PR machinery that endlessly promotes youth culture that they’re more important than anyone else – and young people tend to think that anyway, since the teenager was invented – but they can’t square that with the reality of being permanently shafted by the old and rich, hence, as I see it, the violence. What’s needed is political organization by young people, and, to be honest, hope for the future, which has gone. Our leaders are only out for short-term profit, are are undistinguishable from cheap crooks, and people need to properly wake up to that reality and do something positive about it, understanding that doing nothing or pretending it doesn’t exist or isn’t important doesn’t address the problem, which simply festers inside them and creates a collective atmosphere of nihilism.

  25. damo says...

    Yes the gypsiy quater of barcelona alonge with all absthence bars,brothels outsiders ,misfits or so called was….swept away socialy cleansed the funny thing is in shorditch dispite the money pouring in and the gentrification ….the underworld has crept back the young are becomeing nihilists …fed on by the oppertunists …in every way

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m not sure where it’s all going, Damo, but the amorality or the cut-throat capitalist selfishness is really quite worrying. I see flickers of our brutal past replaying – like Victorian London before the social reformers’ work made its impact felt – that golden period for progress and social equality which lasted for approximately a hundred years from the 1870s until 1979 and Thatcher.

  27. damo says...

    A friend sent me a vid of the reclaim the streets trafalgar sq 1996 which i went to such fun and a common goal people arent political anymore just……generic zombies….all obeadiant serving there masters

  28. damo says...

    The amoral mercenary world cult of hyper greed and capitalisum has vomited up a type of ….hyper generic consumer …born,bred to be a consumeing consumer like a liveing blackhole sucking everything in ….needy,greedy,hyperselfish an uber me,me… exemplified by the oddities on big brother or road trip to ibiza the whole existance is based on consumerisum and petty drama….the tragidy is there just punters and should they die they will be replaced in a nanosecond by another bred hyperconsumer.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Sadly accurate descriptions, Damo – “hyper-generic consumers like a living black hole, sucking everything in … needy, greedy, hyper-selfish an uber me,me.”
    I’m in Barcelona, and the vapid youth are on full display. I always notice how selfie sticks are more prevalent outside the UK (not that selfies aren’t ubiquitous back home, but the selfie sticks aren’t used very much) and they’re everywhere here. People are defining themselves through the idiotic poses they make to a camera they’re holding themselves, taking photos they then share vapidly with others on social media. And although there’s culture here – yesterday we went to the most amazing bookshop specialising in books about Barcelona that the government/council publishes, an astonishing collection including numerous very powerful photographic books – the emptiness is taking over here as everywhere else – the pointless consumerism, the endless distractions from the contemplation of what reality might mean if every waking second wasn’t filled with self-gratification …

  30. damo says...

    Its like the often overlooked 1984 film …the never ending story (yes the one with the lihmal song) ….about how the ….nothing…..slowly creeps across the land of fantasia…..turning everything to nothing ,an emptyness a void ….isnt that whats happening a conciouse mental,emotional spiritual …nothing…is creeping across the world like a toxic miasma but following close behind is chaos,ultra violence,economic collapse and war ….no thoughts of the future no regard for the past…..just the …………nothing

  31. damo says...

    The behaveours now would have been mocked and riddiculed even 20 years ago …well adjusted happy fullfilled people ….dont need to take endless selfies ….what passes for behavour now people would have thought was crazy behavour 20 years ago behind the selfies and narcisistic sociopathic behaveour lurks extream boundryless ultra violence …extream behavour…Ive seen it first hand….horrifieing….now thank god its not all there are wonderfull life affirming young people full of light and love….thank god there needs to be more of them

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, that sadly sounds about right, Damo. The empty, selfish, fortunate minority living in a bubble while elsewhere – in places ruined by these airheads’ own governments and beloved corporations – the violence is increasing horribly.
    I keep imagining – rather sick I know – barbarian hordes arriving at beach resorts, tooled up and intent on medieval-style conquest. The slaughter would be total, and immensely quick. No one has a clue.
    That said, I too look for positivity to the “wonderful life affirming young people full of light and love” you mention. I’m in Canyelles now, where my family have met up with friends, and the three young people here – my son and our friends’ two sons – are all rather lovely!

  33. damo says...

    Thankfully there are a generation of kids comeing up aged between 15,20 who are capable of being the new stewards of the earth who are on the ball and can see the bigger picture who use the new technoligy there not brain deadened or enslaved by it i dont want to generalise but it seems the generations under mine ….not all….and it seems to stóp with thease new enlightened kids are the …….products…….of hyper capitalisum ,my generation ….dropped the ball….we were taught what was needed to be done from the 60s generation and by the 90s we had the chance to change the world…..we blew it……things are in a very dangerouse state right now we have created one hell of a mess and isnt it a shame thease kids have to clean up our shit …but god willing they will change this world for the better

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    Let’s hope so, Damo. This is my son’s generation, and there are definite signs of political activism and independent thought, away from the materialistic, self-centred brainwashing.
    It’s difficult to be quite sure what happened in the 90s, Damo. Certainly, much of the impetus for change was lost because people were caning it so much, but I still think the biggest blow was the election of Blair, who seemed to promise positive change after 18 years of the Tories, but in fact was a new and, ultimately, even greater menace – the destroyer of socialism with Tory-style greed, and the killer of organised dissent. Since he and Mandelson and the other betrayers, money has come to define everything even more than in the late 80s when Harry Enfield captured Thatcherite greed with his Loadsamoney character. As we discuss regularly, almost everything has been commodified, and the effect is stifling, a slow but insistent asphyxiation, and, moreover, one that has corrupted almost everyone. The challenge is how to build opposition to it, to create a new value system.

  35. damo says...

    Your right andy everyone cained it in the late 90s we were all taken in by blaire and new labour ….the money started flowing ….and we couldnt spend it fast enough after a long period of struggle things in the south at least became very easy we all got sucked up into that bubble …..2008 roll around….booom….the fantasy is over and its back to reality ….life on easy street is over….and this time everythings changed and it realy has over the last 20 years the world realy has changed, people have changed its become much harder and crueler that mass solidarity that we thought would allways be there seems to have evaperated….you remember how on the mayday protests in central london the amount of police got bigger and the protesters got smaller people were sick of being kettled people became tired and jaded by it…..this time around the stakes are so much higher theres much more at stake things are graver….there needs to be a reawakening of that protest spirit …..andy when did we all last see a crusty…..were did they all go????

  36. damo says...

    Its funny how things have changed i kind of miss that early to mid pre new labore london even though it was a struggle at times you could if you werent one of the regular 9,5 people you could live and get by here do your own thing support yourself doing little jobs, giveing out flyers..flyering…while being in a band doing art being creative liveing very cheeply …going out haveing fun and wasnt it fun….i realy,realy miss that old london ….it realy was a great fun place

  37. damo says...

    I was listening to an old robert elms listed londoner interview with the desighner and musician barry k sharpe he was talking about the old london how if you were working class and from a poorer background he talked about how rents were peppercorn you could open up a little indie shop, run club nights …..we all fell uphill….you could make it if you had the talent and determination……its almost imposible to rent anywere now

  38. damo says...

    I just find it sad that all this new and old talent isnt being given a chance there’s just been a ….landgrab, resources grab …by the super rich and the corperations is full of dreary mediocre vanity projects …run by upperclass mediocrities and super rich global bores….there not interested by anyone unless they are of some use….its all about them, they realy are beyond uncool…i miss that london andy of sparky, spunky people with no money …..but drive, ideas, talent, energy,….makeing things happen

  39. damo says...

    On a lighter note i see that there going after philip green or is it robert maxwell

  40. Andy Worthington says...

    I was thinking pre-Blair, Damo, in the John Major years, when the economy was in the doldrums, and the spirit of dissent was strong, but people were taking a lot of drugs. Post-Blair, there was the excitement of the anti-globalisation movement, which was massive, but then, as you note, kettling began as a horribly successful way of destroying mass protest – it was in 2001, when office workers leaving work for a sandwich were kettled in Oxford Street, and I recall after that how the traditional May Day protests got smaller and smaller and the kettling more intense. Such a change from the 80s, when, as I recall, there were massive trade union marches on May Day, and then free concerts on Clapham Common.

  41. Andy Worthington says...

    And as for the early New Labour years, yes, it was certainly much easier than now, where housing greed is strangling so many people’s ability to live cheaply. It’s the biggest problem for so many people and yet the complacent media has just dismissed it with a catchy little soundbite – “Generation Rent.” So insulting.

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    I had to look up Barry K. Sharpe, Damo – didn’t realise he was behind the Duffer of St. George label, or that he was a musician.
    But what he says is absolutely true, of course, and I love that expression of yours – “we all fell uphill.” How we need that again!

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, agreed, Damo. We desperately need a London “of sparky, spunky people with no money … but drive, ideas, talent, energy … making things happen.” Instead, as you say, we have global super-rich mediocrities pricing out anyone interesting. What will it take to bring it to an end?

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it’s amazing what it takes for super-rich exploiters to get challenged, Damo.
    I saw this report of Green being challenged on his super-yacht in the Mediterranean:
    He really has no shame, does he?

  45. damo says...

    London has allways had a history of cool interesting talented people makeing things happen Ive just read an interesting book ….ready, steady, Shawn Levy about the 60s london it focuses on a handfull of people ie Terence Stamp, Michael Caine, Vidal Sassoon, 3 working class men who had wot it took to make it espesh Vidal Sassoon who had grown up in absolute poverty, ending his childhood in an orphanige in and out of trouble with the police …they were the sparky, spunky people that london has allways produced and we and the city need them to inject energy, vibrancy, ideas, talent into london life…….we dont need anymore upperclass …mediocure limps….or tacky tasteless global super rich trash….talent and ideas,…not limps and trash

  46. damo says...

    Vidal Sassoon realy was quite a man from the harshest begginings he litteraly clawed his was out and ran with his talent, from the post war slums of the east end to the golden sands of california, he never ever forgot his begginings and helped other young people throughout his life to achieave there dreams ….that realy is a life lived

  47. damo says...

    The thing is, in Sassoon, Stamp and Caine’s day they busted through the class barriers to take the world by storm and the world is a better, ritcher płace for them …unfortunately in this sad little country those class barriers have swung firmly shut again depriveing all this bright sparky spunky young talent a chance, london is becomeing soooo dull …the english upper classes cannot stomach talented, bright, vital working class people ….Becouse they outclass, outgun, out talent, out think, outlive the upperclass in just about every single way humanly possible,lol …we realy need to kick those doors down….now

  48. Andy Worthington says...

    I haven’t read that book, Damo, but I’ve got a load of books about the counter-culture, both in London and beyond, some from when I did my research for my first book, Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion, which in many ways is a post-war history of the British counter-culture.
    George Melly did a review of Levy’s book here:
    And Melly probably knew what he was talking about, as he said the only interesting place in London on the 50s was Soho.
    Now I think we got the 50s back. All the cultural reference points remind me of that dull, deferential time before the revolutionary shake-ups of the 60s, part of which you talk about with the rise of the working class rebels in the early 60s. What a drag. The hipsters’ account of the here and now is so mistaken. There’s nothing cool at all, it’s all reactionary. Beards? Beer? Meat? Give us a break … It’s all bowing down to money and being impressed by money, and it’s all so stunningly, stupefyingly dull.

  49. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the info about Vidal Sassoon, Damo. I wasn’t aware he had been such a philanthropist:

  50. Andy Worthington says...

    All very true, Damo. You know, the worst thing is that although you’re right about the psychological stuff at one level, at another level it’s not even personal – it’s just about greed having taken over as the sole defining context of life, so even those doing the exploiting and the sidelining aren’t aware of how much they’re impoverishing themselves, spiritually and creatively, as well as making life miserable for everyone else. We really do need a revolution in our values.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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