A short History of the
The festival began in 1992, as part of the Adelaide Arts festival with a solid line-up featuring Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn , Remmy Ongala, Guo Yue, Paul Kelly and Crowded House. This was the only Womad I did not attend, but fortunately many of the acts were broadcast on FM .Glued to my tuner listening to the fantastic shows by Nusrat and others , I bitterly regreted not attending - I caught the Womad bug and still haven't recovered .
Although intended to be binannual, the festival was repeated in 1993and was even better, with Peter Gabriel, Geoffrey Oryema , Sheila Chandra and the fantastic Selif Keita headlining the show. Again, many of the acts were broadcast on FM , including full sets by Selif, Chandra and Oryemea .However, this was the last year that full FM shows were featured.
1995 had many great acts, with the final visit of Nusrat before his untimely death .His performances suffered slightly because of a bad cold and the weather was boiling, temps around 37c every day ! Mouth Music, Leningrad Cowboys, The Cruel Sea and Jah Wobble were amongst the best performers. However, this was the worst year for radio coverage , just snippets of the acts and only on AM.
1997, however, was for me the most satisfying Womadelaide of the decade , because they finally managed to persuade my hero Richard Thompson to attend , as well as Loudon Wainwright, Selif Keita, Shooglenifty, Afro Celt Sound System , Paul Kelly , Midnight Oil and Fundamental. This was really the year of the new wave of bands, mostly working in the folk rock idiom, but effectively re-inventing the genre, so that they are not simply re-treading the steps of Fairport or Steeleye Span, but creating new and vital music that appeals to the young as well as some of the old farts like myself. Radio broadcasts were better than in 95, full sets by the minor artists on AM, but only snippets of the main acts were featured on Zap Fm, a government sponsored radio station set up specially for the festival.
In 1998 the festival trust put on a one day Womad at McClaren Vale in the Southern wine growing area. It featured a solid line-up of Shooglenifty , Geoffrey Oryema , Yulduz Usmanova and Papa Joh Gobateh, but lacking a really well known headliner , facing some transport problems and being at the end of the two week Adelaide festival, it only attracted 3000 punters , therefore losing over $100.000, and the experiment was not repeated
The 1999 Festival in contrast, was the best attended yet, in fact ,we thought that if it got any bigger, it would lose some of its appeal. This hasn't really happened , as the audience is , if anything, more dedicated than in the 90s , a generation of children has grown up attedning the festival and this is paid dividends in that these kids a re knowlwdgeable and respectful of the music ,the grounds and each other .Anyway 1999 had some great acts. Trilok Gurto and the Glimpse, Yair Dalal , Gjallerhorn , Lliam O'Flynn, Lo Jo, Kila, The Drummers of Berundi and the great Babba Maal.
Almost perfect weather , great organization and excellent sound made this a really good festival . Also , the ABC finally got its act together and broadcast three hours of highlights on the TV , featuring acts such as Babba and Gjallerhorn. Am radio also broadcast seven hours of shows, although it was marred by talking by the announcers and cuts for news which broke into the direct broadcasts by Baaba and the African Gypsies.
2001 was HOT weather wise and also featured some great artists, the return of Richard Thompson being a major highlight. Pato Banton, Afro Celt Sound System, Csokolom , Bob Brozman, Giles Apap and Rokia Torre were only a few of the artists who impressed the ever expanding crowds that flocked to the park.
2003 was a significant year as it was the final year that the festival was staged bi-annually , since then we have been fortunate to have the festival EVERY year and its been great. 2003 had a host of great bands - Shooglenifty, Rachid Taha, Cara Dillon,Cheikh Lo, Rizwan Muazzam Qawwalli and Bob Brozman . Attendances were on the up and have been ever since, so that by 2008 75,000 attended despite the intense heat ( 39c all three days ) .
2004 has been rather neglected and there is little meaningful evidence that it ever existed on the net. It was another