Top acts to follow

01:50, Mar 16 2012

Graham Reid - An Auckland writer, journalist and critic who lectures part-time in music at the University of Auckland and hosts his own website of music, arts and travel at www.elsewhere.co.nz.

Le Trio Joubran: They might look like three Italian fashion models but these Palestinian brothers play thrilling music on oud (a lute- like instrument) which is high on drama, romance and melancholy.

Shivkumar Sharma: India's greatest innovator on Kashmiri santoor (like a hammered dulcimer), Sharma is a legendary musician in his homeland. A return visit to a country which reminds him of home and before a New Zealand audience he considers genuinely appreciative should make for memorable programme.

Sivousplait: Womad can be as much about a surprise act as the familiar so, while I should have Gurrumul or Baaba Maal here, I'm going for this outfit about whom I know nothing and don't intend to find out about in advance. A group from Japan with a French name? That's enough for me.

Kevin Murphy - Chief executive of TSB bank, and longtime fan of Womad.

Sharon Shannon Big Band: Anything Irish has to be good. Can't wait to hear Sharon Shannon on the piano accordion, an instrument that for me has become synonymous with any Womad event.

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Diego Guerrero y El Solar de Artistas: Flamenco music stirs a passion like nothing else. Tango, salsa and jazz flamenco style, I think the audiences for this one are going to be thirsting for more.

Master Drummers of Burundi: We have some pretty good drummers in Taranaki who I would imagine would love the opportunity to perform with the group from Burundi - from all accounts the Burundi drummers may well provide the greatest spectacle at this year's Womad, an act not to be missed.

Suzanne Porter - CEO of Taranaki Arts Festival Trust and well versed in performance matters.

Alabama 3: Have seen them before, they are amazing.

Anda Union: At the last two Womads, my favourites have been Chinese groups - Hangai and Sa Ding Ding. So I'm interested in the new sounds coming out of China.

Staff Benda Bilili: Their life story is compelling and to see them perform even though they have disabilities is truly inspirational.

Mark Thomas - Owner of Vinyl Countdown, New Plymouth's only music store.

Drummers Of Burundi: As a drummer, I love everything to do with drums and percussion, so this act is a must see.

Batucada Sound Machine: A month or so back, this 10-piece band played in our store, and they were excellent. I'm looking forward to seeing them play again.

Alabama 3: This is an "Acoustic and Unplugged" Alabama 3, described as "country/gospel/ delta blues, but played with a rhythm you've still got to dance to", so it sounds intriguing. And they wrote Woke Up This Morning, the theme to The Sopranos television show, so I really hope that they do a version of that track.

Kate Saunders - Arts and entertainment reporter for the Daily News and Womad first- timer.

Staff Benda Bilili: Their background of being homeless and polio-afflicted musicians who perform on customised tricycles is fascinating enough, but I'm most looking forward to their acoustic rhythm section.

Mama Kin: Love her sultry, indie sound and reputation for passionate performances, so I'm expecting big things from John Butler's wife.

Gurrumul Yunupingu: The blind Aboriginal musician with the quietly powerful voice is going to be perfect for those mellow moments at Womad.

Harry Duynhoven - New Plymouth mayor, car enthusiast and New Zealand music fan.

The Yoots: Brassy, bouncy and wonderful. Hopepa and his crew promise an infectious and toe-tapping set of Maori classic tunes. Reminds me of an old-fashioned Kiwi summer!

The Pajama Club: No, not an act for lounging in PJs. A great new vehicle for one of the giants of the New Zealand music industry, Neil Finn. I've been a longtime fan.

Adam Page: Humour and improvisation in a uniquely accessible style, Adam's show looks like a great combination of fun and superb musicianship and comes highly recommended.

Taranaki Daily News