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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

WOMAD NZ attendance near record

Photo : McKenzie Jennings-Gruar

As the much-loved festival signs off for another extraordinary year; the ripples of the good vibe continue as 11 albums from WOMAD artists enter the NZ Top 40 Chart, the dates for 2017 are unveiled and the contract renewed with WOMAD international.

Over the 54 hours, WOMAD festival go-ers were treated to 32 acts from around the globe in the gorgeous setting of Taranaki’s Brooklands Park and TSB Bowl of Brooklands. Alongside the musical performances, Nova Energy Taste the World cooking demonstrations and  artists workshops, artists also made time to meet their new fans at the CD Signing Sessions. Fans queued, purchased CDs and merchandise with the happy result of 11 WOMAD artist albums making it into the Official NZ Top 40 chart.

First time in the NZ chart for Canadians, The Jerry Cans (no.7), Ukrainian crowd favourites Dakha Brakha had two albums enter at no.10 and no.14, UK dream folk fiddlers, Spiro, took out no.17, explosive maverick blues-folk-jazz fusion band Hazmat Modine in at no.19, Mali’s desert blues maestros, Songhoy Blues took out no. 20. Other first timers for the NZ chart included: soul sister Ester Rada from Israel (no.24), U.S. baritone John Grant (no.27), Iranian sisters Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat (no.34) and re-entry into the chart for Louis Baker’s E.P. at no.35 and after his electrifying set, French musician, St. Germain's latest album came back  in at no.39. The WOMAD 2016 compilation CD rose to no.2 on the RIANZ Compilation Charts, which is an outstanding result for an album with mostly artists no-one had heard of in New Zealand a mere two weeks ago.

2016 was extra special, as WOMAD International re-signed the deal with Taranaki Arts Festival Trust for another three years, which at the end of the new term will be a staggering 15 years of partnership. Head of WOMAD International, Chris Smith commented, “Every time I come back here, I am blown away by this amazing setting and how beautiful and custom made it is for the WOMAD festival."

The next WOMAD dates are March 17th – 19th, 2017.

WOMAD 2016 was the third most attended ever in New Plymouth in this, its 12th presentation of the festival. At its peak, on Saturday, there was near 16,500 people on the site made up of the near sell out crowd of 12,000, 3000 free children, plus traders, volunteers and staff.

Suzanne Porter, Taranaki Arts Festival Trust CEO reflected on the 2016 festival,  “This year’s festival has had a particularly chilled and relaxed vibe on site, and our audience were really well-behaved. The site was still flowing really well at peak times and we couldn’t be happier with the feedback from both our audience and our artists.”

The treasure of  WOMAD is more than a ‘show’ - it is a communal give and take and has the power to move not only the audience but the artists also. Middle eastern group 47Soul, hailing from Palestine, Syria and Jordan were visibly brought to tears at the Welcome Powhiri held at Owae Marae after their arrival. De La Soul described the wave of love coming to them over the TSB Bowl of Brooklands lake as “palpable” and WOMAD first timer Bic Runga sent a thank you note ‘I felt really lucky to be a part of the festival… the bands I saw and the atmosphere really blew me away”.

Photo: McKenzie Jennings-Gruar

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