Magical musical line-up is full of festival surprises
Last year, the West Country's own Womad festival broke all previous records, with more than 35,000 people attending on the Saturday.
Due to the demand for day tickets, organisers say that, for the first time, they will go on sale next Friday – more than a month in advance of the event, which runs at Wiltshire's Charlton Park from July 25 to 28.
A Womad spokesman said that while the festival line-up does include some acts most people will have heard of, the point of the festival was to experience something new.
"This being Womad, alongside those more familiar names comes music that you don't yet know," he said. "After all, this is the festival that opens eyes and ears in a way no other event can or does. So, while these names might not ring most people's bells, your next favourite band might be among them," he added.
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Meanwhile, Stroud-based green energy firm Ecotricity, founded by Dale Vince, has announced it will be starting a partnership with Womad, with the firm sponsoring the late-night Molly's Green Bar at the festival. The bar, which stays open all night with a cabaret and DJs, was the spot where Prince Harry partied the night away last year. If he is back this year, he'll be illuminated with renewable energy – courtesy of Ecotricity's wind turbines.
"We're looking forward to being a part of Womad," said Mr Vince. "In all my years as a traveller, I've been to a lot of festivals, but I never made it to Womad, so it'll be great to come along."
Scores of great artists have already been announced, from Toots & The Maytals, Gilberto Gil, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, to Alice Russell Rokia Traoré and David Rodigan MBE, but now the wraps can come off and we can see in full the bill.
Afrocentric hip-hoppers Arrested Development will be among the favourites. The Atlanta collective, best known for massive hits like People Everyday and Mr Wendal, will be spreading the timeless one-love vibes of hip-hop's classic daisy age. Also on the agenda is Craig Charles, the actor, comedian, performance poet who also has a nifty sideline as a spinner of the finest soul and funk platters known to man and woman – as listeners to his Saturday night 6Music show may well testify.
Joseph Arthur, the celebrated – and defiantly individual – singer-songwriter from Akron, Ohio, who was discovered by Peter Gabriel in the mid-90s and speedily signed to Gabriel's Real World Records, will also entertain.
And Ed Harcourt, the piano-tinkling, former Mercury Prize nominee, will join the line-up. He returned this year with the album Back Into The Woods, recorded in one night at Abbey Wood and described by Clash magazine as "one of the most beautiful, heartbreakingly tender albums of the last year, if not decade, if not ever…"
Look out for Babylon Circus, from France. This fast and furious combo from Lyon mix ska, punk, jazz, swing and chanson in irrepressible, irresistible fashion. The organisers say they are "precisely the kind of band that festivals were invented for".
But, this being Womad, alongside these more familiar names comes music that many event-goers may not yet know. They include…
Amesmalúa (Spain). This band occupy the point at which Galician folk song meets the fire of flamenco, while also showing tough roots-rock and jazzy touches.
Nynke (Netherlands). Wonderfully expressive fado singer who – unlike the rest of the fado sisterhood – hails not from Lisbon but the northern Dutch province of Friesland.
La Chiva Gantiva (Colombia/Belgium). Colombian at their core but calling Brussels home, this deeply funky, stupendously agile outfit come recommended to anyone who's shaken a leg to past Womad favourites Ozomatli. They could well turn out to be the surprise package of the festival.
Imperial Tiger Orchestra (Switzerland). Further proof that passports are redundant in the music world, that borderlines get erased. This is the sound of classic Ethiopian grooves as translated by a bunch of musicians from Geneva.
The Bookshop Band (UK). This folky trio usually write songs about books and play them in bookshops. Now they're bringing their well-read creations out of such dusty old places and out into the sunshine of the great outdoors.
This year's festival will welcome back the Taste The World stage, where artists performing in the line-up are invited to present and prepare native dishes for audiences, occasionally using techniques not familiar to these shores.