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Womad 2013

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013
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Auckland-based group Beyondsemble have won a spot at Womad 2013

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Auckland-based group Beyondsemble drew on a global support network to win a spot in the Womad 2013 lineup yesterday.

The Womad band competition went down to the wire, with the two frontrunners neck and neck until the closing minute.

But Beyondsemble eventually edged out closest rival, Tauranga group Kougar Sistas, by just 140 votes.

More than 15,000 votes were cast during the competition which gave bands the opportunity to win a slot in the Womad 2013 lineup.

In the competition's early stages it was discovered over-exuberant fans had been serial voting from false email addresses to ensure their favourite bands got through.

The anomaly was brought to the attention of Womad staff by Darren Watson, of Darren Watson and The Real Deal Blues Band.

At the time, Taft marketing and communications manager Lisa McMullan assured contestants Womad was running a fair competition and that all invalid votes would be identified and deleted.

On Wednesday night all votes had been put through a thorough verification process to ensure a fair result was reached yesterday morning.

Beyondsemble splits its time between Auckland and Europe and describe themselves as a molten mix of folk, jazz, gypsy, bluegrass and rocksteady.

Frontman Craig Denham said the band had been campaigning for votes on a recent 30-stop tour of New Zealand, and had reached out to anyone and everyone on Facebook.

"We even did a free gig for my sister's work in Dunedin. We said 'Oh we'll play for your social club as long as you all vote for us.'

"We're totally stoked. We've been trying to get to Womad for ages so it's just awesome."

He said the fight to the finish was "epic" and could not believe they came out on top.

"I don't know how many times the lead changed between us and the Kougar Sistas, but we got there in the end. Womad's just the perfect demographic for us. We're amped."

Being the competition's first year, Ms McMullan said the response from bands and voters had been passionate.

"More than 50 bands entered, more than 15,000 people voted and in the end it was a very close race.

"The diversity and calibre of entries was a reflection of the incredible pool of talent that's out there. Unfortunately there could only be one winner but congratulations to all who participated with such fervour and spirit."

Beyondsemble will play at the festival on Sunday March 17 alongside some of the world's best musical talent, including Jimmy Cliff and Hugh Masekela.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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