Roots still dreaming of Womad set

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 03/06/2014

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Top Kiwi reggae band Cornerstone Roots has spent 10 years trying to get on stage at Womad.

But the Raglan band - which featured in New Plymouth's Festival of Lights this year - says it has had more luck with venues like Glastonbury in England.

Frontman Brian Ruawai wants 2015 to be their year.

"We've played just about every major concert in the country and that one's always eluded us. I'd just be so stoked."

The band's interest in featuring at the New Plymouth's Womad further underlines the pulling power and success of the event.

Last month, figures released on the festival's economic impact showed the 10th Womad at Pukekura Park this year had benefits equal to the creation of 111 fulltime jobs in Taranaki.

Womad's new artistic director Emere Wano last night gave an insight into the challenges of selecting bands when New Zealand had such a high number of top quality acts.

Wano paid tribute to Cornerstone Roots and noted their material was being heard all around the world, but she said Womad needed to deliver fresh material and an even spread of genres.

"It's all about what the international programme looks like then looking at the New Zealand acts and trying to get a balance.

"Who's hot at the time? Who's got new albums out? Who's active on the scene?"

Whether a band had done a summer tour in the two months prior to Womad could also impact on their chances of being picked.

But Cornerstone Roots' appearances at some of the world's top festivals could up their chances of selection next year, she said.

"They might be back up on the rise. It might not have been 2014 but it might be 2015."

Ruawai said the band applied a few times but after a series of rejections they gave up.

They set their sights overseas and are now under Crazy Planet Records based in Berlin.

This year they will play Glastonbury in England and the Sziget Festival in Budapest, events expected to draw 125,000 and 400,000 music lovers.

"I thought we would be right in line with the philosophy of Womad but it has just never happened for us," Ruawai said.

Ruawai said he has always been inspired by the Womad festival.

"We used to go every year, take the family and enjoy the whole atmosphere."

Cornerstone Roots play at The Mayfair on Saturday.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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