WOMEX 2008 Provided World Music Showcases for All Tastes

Väsen and Mike Marshall
Väsen and Mike Marshall – Photo by Angel Romero


The showcase selection this year at WOMEX was extensive and varied, representing many musical traditions of the world. The numerous concerts included the official WOMEX showcases, OffWOMEX performances and private concerts. There several themes, including Flamenco, Brazilian, Galician and much more.

Corsican group A Filetta, who played the first night, impressed some of the delegates, including Link TV’s Michal Shapiro, who said: “I loved A Filetta. They are very special. Every night at WOMEX there is a surprise from an artist who moves you in an unexpected way. This year, for the first night it was A Filetta. It was like watching artisans building a cathedral.”

I chose to attend some of the daytime showcases, which were held at the at the Sevilla Convention Center (FIBES) and the nighttime showcases at the Lope de Vega Theater in downtown Sevilla. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the nighttime showcases that took place in the large tents at the nearby Plaza de España. At least three showcases run simultaneously at three separate venues and, in order to see them all, you have to watch 5 or 10 minutes of each concert and then run to the next.

Many delegates were impressed by Cimarron (Colombia) and Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba (Mali). Of all the showcases I saw, the ones that a lasting effect on me the most were the outstanding [wiki:bluegrass]/Swedish folk collaboration of American mandolinist Mike Marshall with Swedish folk group Väsen (normally, American violinist Darol Anger is also part of the line-up, but he suffered a wrist injury and could not make it), Argentine band Astillero’s new tango, Chinese virtuos Liu Fang and Egypt’s lively Bedouin Jerry Can Band.


Bedouin Jerry Can Band
Bedouin Jerry Can Band – Photo by Angel Romero


At the Teatro Lope de Vega I witnessed one of the best concerts of the event, the one by Californian bluegrass mandolinist Mike Marshall accompanied by Swedish traditional music group Väsen,” said Albert Reguant producer of a radio show for Catalunya Radio. “Thursday October 30 performances that stood out were A Filetta (Corsica), and Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba (Mali). Other interesting performances include the concerts by Aurelio Martinez (Garifuna/Honduras) and Camané (Portugal).”

WOMEX did a better job of scheduling so they didn’t overlap as much as previous years. Even so I generally saw 15-20 minutes before trying to catch a glimpse of something else,” said Dore Stein, producer and host of Tangents Radio in San Francisco. “I also missed three that I would have enjoyed: Miguel Poveda (Zazie from NubeNegra raved about Miguel’s performance), Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba, and A Filetta.

“Three groups stood out for me. I caught 10 minutes of the Colombian group Cimarron but was transfixed. Astillero is an astounding tango group – cutting edge and virtuosic – particularly liked the double bassist’s hand percussion on the body of his instrument. They were at their best during instrumentals. Lastly I enjoyed Columbia’s salsa ensemble LA-33. Excellent performers who managed to deliver many highs and one curious low: a cover of “Roxanne” that made me run for cover.”

The Koreans Gongmyoung and Speed Caravan left a big impression,” revealed Michael Genrich (India), EarthSync’s Live & Distribution Manager.


Liu Fang - Photo by Angel Romero
Liu Fang – Photo by Angel Romero


I really liked La 33, Mastretta (he is a friend and I can’t be impartial), and Liu Fang,” indicated Rubén Caravaca of Spain’s La Fábrica de Ideas.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.


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