Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Womadelaide: reviewing a slice of heaven

On Sunday my youngest and I experienced Womad. In so doing, I encountered a part of Australia I’ve not yet seen – an Australia deeply respectful of indigenous voices, curious about migrant cultures, eager to experience the unfamiliar and celebrate diversity.

“I thought I’d died and gone to music heaven.” That was Tim Finn’s comment on Womad and at times it did feel like heaven – a world set apart, that for a period of time emitted ways of being human that were deeply spiritual, deeply appealing – generations together, loads of kids, enjoying engaging with adults; participative creativity, the sheer enjoyment of humans being at play.

In my Missional church leadership teaching, I suggest that one of the ways to listen to the world around us is through observation of festivals. Large scale events can tell us something about the wider narratives of our culture.

The narratives of Womad include an affirmations of being human, celebration of creativity and culture, respect for diversity and care for earth. To quote another Kiwi musician, “a slice of heaven.”


  • Yabu band, indigenous voices singing of the importance of heritage, history and relationships.
  • Lying on the Botanic Garden grass, gazing at tall trees, head to head with my youngest, listening to Archie Roach.  “The trees are smiling,” the youngest announced.
  • Les Gumes, installation storytelling. Random groups stepping into a world made alternative by the skillful change of space and the power of storytelling. Hard to explain, wonderful to experience.
  • Leigh Warren and dancers, an hour of contemporary dance, supported by live guitar, voice and didgeridoo.
  • Afrocelt Soundsystem. Over 15 years ago I stumbled upon their music in the leftover bin of a music shop. (Remember those – that historic artifact called music shops!) I loved the drum and bass loops, overlaid with Irish pipes and African beats. Seeing them live was simply superb.

So what did the youngest Taylor think at the end? Next year, she announced, we are all going. And for all four days!

Posted by steve at 10:06 AM