My Photos: The Wet But Still Wonderful WOMAD Festival 2017


A photo of WOMAD 2017 by Andy Worthington.

See my photo set on Flickr here!

The WOMAD festival (World of Music, Art and Dance) takes place on the last weekend of July, and since 2002 I have attended the festival every year — first at Reading, and, since 2007, at Charlton Park in Wiltshire — with my family and friends, as my wife runs children’s workshops, culminating in the children’s procession on Sunday evening that snakes through the entire festival site.

I’ve taken photos of the festival every year, and have made them available on Flickr since 2012 — see the photos from 2012 here and here, from 2014 here, from 2015 here, and from 2016 here.

This year the weather was quite challenging, but we all had a great time anyway. The camaraderie was great in our camp, and there was wonderful music everyday — starting on the Thursday night before most people were there with my favourite band of the festival, who I had never heard of before — Bixiga 70, a Brazilian Afrobeat band — and an old favourite, Orchestra Baobab, from Senegal, and continuing with Junun (from Israel and Rajasthan) and Oumou Sangare (from Mali) on Friday, young rapper Loyle Carner (from Croydon), kora legend Toumani Diabate (from Mali) and Toots and the Maytals (from Jamaica) on Saturday, and whirling dervishes from Syria, Benjamin Zephaniah from the UK, Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 from Nigeria, and US vibes legend Roy Ayers on Sunday.

My son Tyler also performed, at the Hip Yak Poetry Shack, and there was a wonderful procession, featuring the phoenix Dot designed. My band The Four Fathers missed the boat when it came to the Open Mic at Molly’s Bar, where we’ve played before, but we did play at the camp, along with other musically-inclined campers.

If you haven’t yet been to a WOMAD festival, I can’t recommend them highly enough. Please check out the UK site, and also the international site for other events worldwide.

Also see the album here:

WOMAD 2017: the sign in the arboretum

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.

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7 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article linking to my photos from last weekend’s WOMAD world music festival, which was challenging from the point of view of the weather, but absolutely wonderful in terms of the music produced by an array of extraordinary talent from around the world. I hope you have time to look at the photos, and that you enjoy them!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Ann Alexander wrote:

    Great photos, Andy. Especially the one of Tyler. Love all the colours too.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ann. Great to hear from you. I seem to have spent half the day preparing the photos and putting them up! I hope they’re getting out to people!

  4. Anna says...

    Tyler’s picture is amazing, both he and the picture as such :-).
    And WOW. Oumou Sangare (did she sing my favourite, though arguably already quite old, Djôrôlen ?) and more Malian Kora.
    My favourite African music, together with the Congolese more dancing variety and Zambian Mulemena Boys. and my favourites: & yo, yo … :-).

    Had a rare vinyl record of those (the very one on the first video), lent it to a colleague in provincial capital Mongu (as I had no record player in my Zambian bush) and forgot to take it back when leaving a few years later …

    Heard it the first time on the battery-powered record player of my favourite local agricultural extension officer who lived at-world’s-end on the border with Angola (with a newspaper clipping picture of Savimbi on the wall in case he would cross that border and occupy the village :-). Listened while eating our staple evening field food : stiff maize porridge Nshima (known as Ugali in Swahili) with canned meat – or fish in tomatosauce and lots of tea as that necessitated boiling the otherwise unsafe water. Hot, dry, dusty, in the dark as there of course was no electricity, not even a tiny solar panel like I had in my home.
    Wonder whether he still is alive.
    30 yrs ago, I’m getting old …

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the lovely comments about Tyler, Anna – and wow, your African memories! How great to hear a few anecdotes.
    I can’t tell you which songs Oumou Sangare played, unfortunately, as I’m not as familiar as I should be with her back catalogue, but I’m sure many were from her new album – her first for some time.
    Thanks also for treating me to some Zambian music. It doesn’t sound a million miles away from other African music I’ve heard, but it’s the first time I’ve heard this particular band – or, to the best of my knowledge, any Zambian music at all. Great! The relentless drum machine is quite bold. Probably revolutionary at the time.

  6. Anna says...

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anna. Lovely!
    New video from her new album here – might not be available outside the UK, of course. Search for ‘Fadjamou’:
    And this, released in March – ‘Yere Faga’:

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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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