Womad drum rolls

Pre-festival events start swinging

KATE SAUNDERS
Last updated 05:00 15/03/2012
Members of Mongolian band Anda Union
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ
ON SONG: Members of Mongolian band Anda Union, who will perform at Womad this weekend, get some practice the Jury Gardens.

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Music lovers are starting to get into the groove ahead of Womad this weekend.

More than 400 artists from 21 countries have descended on Taranaki for the festival, and the foot-tapping and hip swaying has already begun.

Music expo Sounds Aotearoa got audiences into the swing of things last night, kicking off at Matinee Bar with performances from Clap Clap Riot and Iva Lamkum, among others.

More than 100 delegates are registered for the two-day event, which allows musicians, promoters and managers to mingle with industry heavyweights. Womad itself is at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands from tomorrow until Sunday.

Taranaki Arts Festival Trust chief executive Suzanne Porter said ticket sales were about 10 per cent down on last year, but organisers were pinning their hopes on a bumper weather forecast and she couldn't complain about numbers when compared with the poor sales other festivals had experienced.

"It's not very easy in festival land. We'd like to claw back that 10 per cent and we have a stunning weather forecast, a whole weekend of it being fine. We'd like to entice people for that last-minute buy."

At the moment the equivalent of about 7000 three-day passes had been sold, with a capacity of 12,500. About 2800 festival-goers are taking in the option of camping at Pukekura Raceway. Ms Porter said usually the organisers liked about 10,500 attendees, which was comfortable for those attending and gave it a "niche festival feel".

Last-minute touches were being added to the stage and passes organised, T-shirts folded and briefings given. "To me, it's all started," Ms Porter said.

Artists, who arrived on three big buses from Auckland last night, were welcomed at the Fitzroy Boardriders Club, where they enjoyed an informal barbecue.

Meanwhile, Womad artists who arrived in Taranaki early, including Ivory Coast vocalist Dobet Gnahore and Mongolian band Anda Union, brought a touch of the festival to rural Taranaki yesterday.

Rahotu pupils learned about percussion instruments and dance during a workshop with Gnahore. The session also drew students from St Joseph's Opunake and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tamarongo.

Rahotu principal Margaret Dobbin said the children had had a unique opportunity to work with a performer who merged African roots with the European influences of her French guitarist partner.

Also, several years ago, Rahotu students had participated in a Womad drumming workshop.

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"Those children have left our school now, but I do know one of the boys that took part in the drum workshop and performed at Womad. He taught the other students drum rhythms and patterns that they performed in our school's end of year production called Ramad, which combined Womad with the Rugby World Cup."

Other schools to benefit from workshops were Kaponga School, St Patrick's Kaponga, Auroa School and Tikorangi.

Anda Union held a workshop in Tikorangi yesterday, before a mini performance was staged at the renowned Tikorangi festival garden, The Jury Garden.

Taranaki Motel Association president Fi Evans said Womad had provided a welcome occupancy increase for moteliers and the town was "chockablock". Many accommodation providers had Womad regulars who booked in every year, she said.

"It just gives everybody a bit of a boost, a bit in the coffers before winter, because we can't say we've had much of a summer. Long may Womad continue," she said.

The general public can see tonight's Sound Aotearoa showcase acts at Matinee from 7pm, including Wellington blues and rock act The Nudge as well as Mamaku Project, Scratch 22, Eddie Numbers and Tomorrow People.

Check out video online of Mongolian band Anda Union performing at Jury Gardens ahead of Womad.

- Taranaki Daily News

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