Off to WOMAD, Back on Monday! Have A Listen to The Four Fathers While I’m Away


A comparatively rare sunny interlude at the often rather wet WOMAD 2015 (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.


Dear friends,

It’s that time of year again, when a whole posse of us from south east London head down to Charlton Park in Wiltshire for the WOMAD world music festival, which this year is celebrating its 35th year!

This will be my 16th annual visit, as part of a group of family and friends running children’s workshops, led by my wife Dot. I first went just after our wedding, and have been every year since — in the festival summers of 2004 and 2005, for example, when I launched my books Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield at the Glastonbury Festival, and also spoke and sold books at the Big Green Gathering and the Shambala Festival, and in 2007, the first year at Charlton Park, after the move from Reading, when it became a mud bath, and we feared it might not survive.

But this “hardy celebration of music marginalised by the western pop machine”, as the Times describes it, is not so easily destroyed. WOMAD came bouncing back in 2008, having redesigned its place in the landscape of Charlton Park, and it has been thriving ever since.

I find it hard to imagine that I could love a festival more than WOMAD. I love world music, rather more than most western music, and WOMAD constantly surprises, delivering up music I didn’t know beforehand that ends up blowing me away — and I know it’s the same for thousands of other people. Check out my archive of photos and recollections here.

West African music is a particular love of mine — joining roots reggae, particularly from the late 70s, as musical themes that continually resonate in my life, along with an esoteric timeline of rock and pop music that has never abandoned me since my days of watching Top of the Pops as a child, and the Old Grey Whistle Test as teenager, and the time I spent from 1977 onwards devouring all kinds of albums — rock, pop, punk, new wave, soul and disco — then, at university, the great singer-songwriters, and the unforgettable pulse of roots reggae.

This love of reggae — and some punk sensibility and the poetic leanings of the singer-songwriter — have never left me, and I hope, on Sunday, to be playing a few songs at the open mic at Molly’s Bar with Richard Clare of my band The Four Fathers (where all my music loves have been colliding since 2014), our former bassist, Louis Sills-Clare, and my son Tyler (The Wiz-RD), a beatbox poet.

While we’re away, do feel free to check out our music. Below are the videos we recently made available of two songs we regularly perform live — our cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters of War’ and ‘Rebel Soldier’, an old folk song that I gave a new tune, and a reggae rhythm, while living in Brixton in the 1980s. Both are on our first album, ‘Love and War.’

Please also check out our studio recordings, including our latest releases, ‘Riot’, a warning to the Tories about the effects of their austerity programme, and ‘London’, a love song to the capital over 30 years, as its wildness has been lobotomised by greed, from our forthcoming second album, ‘How Much Is A Life Worth?’ which we’ll be releasing in September.

See you on Monday!

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 music is available 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.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Dear friends, in just a couple of hours I’ll be heading down to Wiltshire for the WOMAD world music festival, where my family, friends and I have been involved in the children’s workshops every year since 2002. I’ll be back on Monday – no doubt happily shattered, but in the meantime I’ll be enjoying some of the best music the world has to offer!

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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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The Battle of the Beanfield

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Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo


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