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Baker Boy

WOMADelaide The World’s Festival. March 11-14 2022.
Review by Ros Jason. Photos by Mark Moray (Wicked Rock Photography)

WOMADelaide Festival 30th ANNIVERSARY held in the surrounds of the lush Botanic Park, kicked off to a spectacular start under clear skies with the sublime experience that is the collaboration between JOSEPH TAWADROS and the ADELAIDE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Tawadros’ Concerto for oud and Orchestra, ‘a rare and thrilling work, cinematic in scope and full of drama..standing at the crossroads of East and West, tradition and innovation.’ With gentle moments for meditative thought and swells of exhilarating excitement, this performance was not to be missed. TAWADROS on oud joined by brother JAMES on percussion added his touch of quirky humour and warmth throughout this stunning piece.

Headline acts included poetic lyricist COURTNEY BARNETT in a standout set, the farewell performance of the original lineup of THE CAT EMPIRE, the explosive calypso blues reggae romp that is MELBOURNE SKA ORCHESTRA, the iconic GOANNA BAND celebrating the 40th anniversary of their standout album Spirit of Place, and the warm nostalgic hug that is an evening spent with the song book of PAUL KELLY. The crowd roared for their faves including ‘To her door’, ‘ Dumb things’, ‘Leaps and bounds’, and ‘Before too long’. But for me the set soared to new heights with LINDA and VIKA BULL, each taking centre stage in outstanding solos as well as contributing their sublime harmonies to much of the set. I’ve loved these two talented sisters since the ‘80s when I first saw them perform at Melbourne’s Tankerville Arms.They feel like old friends and I was so excited to see them in the lineup with PAUL KELLY on closing night.

The Cat Empire
Paul Kelly
Ash Naylor (Paul Kelly)
Paul Kelly band
Courtney Barnett

GOANNA’S SHANE HOWARD reminded his huge audience that ..’the time to act is now .. to protect the environment for our children and grandchildren.’ Footage was projected on the screens behind the band as they sang ‘Let the Franklin Flow’. GOANNA BAND famously stoked the fire for indigenous rights and environmental protection back in the eighties and their legacy lives on in their unique mix of classic folk song blended with spirited roots rock. The feeling in the crowd when they played their anthemic ‘Solid Rock’ was touching as people all around me stood swaying and singing the words, a special moment.


Our First Nations voice was clear and bright throughout the Festival with a range of acts including songwriter and reconciliation activist Mutti Mutti man KUTCHA EDWARDS beautiful ballads, the vibing pulsing rapping vitality of BAKER BOY and Adelaide’s spirited Hip Hop SONZ OF SERPENT.

KING STINGRAY joined the line up as did the dynamic hip hop artists A.B. ORIGINAL and Malyangapa Barkindji woman BARKAA described by Triple J as ‘one of the most exciting and powerful rappers in Australian music.’

AB Original
King Stingray

Each evening world premiere collaboration KARDLA PALTENDI – DANCING FIRE celebrated the re-emergence of traditional KAURNA fire practice, ‘symbolizing the primordial eternal connections of land and sky material and spiritual…tapping into humanity’s fascination with fire..’

A still and reverent audience witnessed this mesmerising ceremony each evening as pillars of fire were lit by indigenous dancers accompanied by chanting and didgeridoo.


What truly makes WOMADelaide special is the variety of experiences on hand. There are so many WORKSHOPS to choose from and I was lucky enough to attend a number of these such as BALKAN ETHNO ORCHESTRA’S in which participants were taught traditional Circle dances known as ‘Kolo’ from Central Serbia, accompanied by live music. It was such a lovely experience to join hands with people from all over as we danced in a circle under the huge Moreton Bay fig trees.

FARHAN SHAH AND SUFI OZ brought traditional Sufi music to the festival and during their workshop taught us vocal chants and clapping rhythms of famous Sufi songs with live instrumental accompaniment. I’m still humming the tunes and it’s so delightful to have them embedded in my memory to carry with me always.

Cook Islands TE TANGI O TE KA’ARA entertained us as they taught hip swaying rhythms, arm movements and chants in a fun workshop, and their outstanding live performances featuring pate log drums were exhilarating.

YID burst onto the stage with their traditional Yiddish tunes echoing the voices of Eastern European folkloric songs. The 23 piece BIG BAND ensemble had their audience jiving to klezmer vibes electronic dance music with a dash of late ‘70s funk.


VALANGA KHOZA brought a taste of South Africa to the mix and ELEPHANT SESSIONS from the Scottish highlands charmed their audiences with intricate trad tunes featuring bass heavy funk, fiddle mandolin and guitar.

CEDRIC BURNSIDE is the leading ambassador for the distinctive North Mississippi Hill Country blues genre.His stripped back style and extended riffs took us deep into the Mississippi whilst AZYMUTH AND MARCOS VALLE from Brazil infected their audience with hip swaying jazz-funk, soul samba and bossa nova grooves of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Cedric Burnside

Guatemalan born GABY MORENO, UNICEF ambassador and Latin Grammy winner was captivating with her lilting voice and breathtaking blend of folk soul and blues.

Gaby Moreno

Late each night, the party animals amongst us gathered at STAGE 7 under the trees with the flying foxes to groove the night away. INNER CITY rocked the house with hits BIG FUN and GOOD LIFE, the simple yet profound lyrics, hypnotic beat and PARIS GREY’S soaring vocals resonating with me in a way that I hadn’t experienced before, a complete letting go and surrender to just feeling good and feeling joy. ‘’Anyone here been feeling depressed for the last two years?’ she asked..

It was noticeable throughout the Festival that almost every artist commented how exceptionally exciting it was to be back performing live for us and how grateful they were for the experience, as most certainly were we.

Townsville’s award winning CONTEMPORARY DANCE COMPANY DANCENORTH joined forces with 100 drummers from Adelaide’s percussion community to present NOISE, a high energy dance performance accompanied by thunderous percussive live drumming. A Festival highlight for me. These powerful athletic dancers moved with so much passion and vigor it was utterly captivating.

The TASTE THE WORLD pavilion runs workshops, inviting festival performers to cook a traditional dish from their land of origin. At the conclusion, with recipe in hand, each member of the audience is given a sample of the dish to try.

I never miss it, so much fun, and this year I attended the workshop of GELAREH POUR from ZOJ preparing a Persian herb and noodle dish with zataar bread. The aromas wafting down the stairs as I arrived were delicious, as was the taster.

The PLANET TALKS events offer the opportunity to attend a variety of panel discussions and I sat in on CLIMATE FIGHTING FARMING, an interesting and informative discussion which looked at how regenerative agriculture might change the way our food production system works so that it is better for the soils, uses water more efficiently and is still profitable for farmers.

Delicious FOOD options at WOMADelaide abound and over the four days I managed to sample Sri Lankan curries, West African chicken and lentil curry, Morrocan, Afghani, Middle Eastern falafel, Turkish gozleme and Greek loukoumades. Determined to have my Byron Bay organic donut, I lined up on the last night and got the third last one of the festival. Mission accomplished.

SHOPPING opportunities are to be enjoyed as one strolls between the acts, towards the food or just to sit under a tree and have a rest or a shmooze with friends old and new.

There were beautiful jewelry stands, Morrocan handicrafts, Himalayan singing bowls, vegan shoes, ethnic clothing, and a very popular henna tattoo booth that always had long queues. Delvine cockatoo Collins, First Nations artist and designer presented home wares and beautiful original artworks hand printed on tea towels and bookmarks.

DISPLAY TENTS are dotted around the park including GREENING AUSTRALIA, PERMACULTURE, CLIMATE ACTION and a very touching stand supporting the UKRAINIAN CRISIS APPEAL run by members of the local Ukrainian community raising money to support the War Relief. I purchased a piece of Ukrainian embroidery and as I paid for my donation I expressed the wish that the hands that made this piece of embroidery are still able to continue doing so. Unimaginable to be fearing for the safety of loved ones in the Ukraine at this moment.

SHELTER BOX is an International ROTARY DISASTER RELIEF ORGANIZATION that believes in shelter as a human right. Cyclones landslides earthquakes floods and conflict impact families and homes worldwide and SHELTER BOX aims to deliver support following a disaster by providing family tents, shelter kits packed with tools and materials to help families repair their houses, water filtration kits, solar lights and shelter boxes which are designed to help people who’ve lost everything. The display stand provided pamphlets and information and the opportunity to step inside one of their tents to view how it supports families seeking relief. A wonderful initiative accepting donations towards the various packages available.

CATHEDRAL OF LIGHT by Mandylights drawing inspiration from traditional arched windows, created a beautiful walkway illuminated by tens of thousands of LED light globes, evoking a sense of journey, warmth and inclusion. This became a favorite photo opportunity especially at night as it sparkled in the darkness of the glorious Botanic surrounds.

The KIDZONE is a child friendly designated area including a much loved nature playground, nature yoga, indigenous weaving and sculpture, and play based experiences such as making musical instruments using natural materials.

I attended a STORY TIME SESSION with legendary Australian footballer proud Wirangu/Kokatha/Guburn man EDDIE BETTS whose personal experience with literacy challenges has given him a deep understanding of the disadvantage it can cause young people. His L’IL HOMIES is a fun educational book series born from a dedication to spread kindness, awareness and inspire love of learning. It encourages acceptance and equality, educating its readers about aboriginal culture and celebrating and valuing its deep and rich history.

EDDIE read his story book to the gathering and then had a discussion and chat with the children and parents, signing autographs and having photos taken with his adoring fans.

Football legend Eddie Betts

Always a warm and inclusive Festival for people of all ages, abilities and generations from tiny newborn babies cuddled up in a swag to elderly in wheelchairs and everything in between, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

We stumbled upon a couple TYING THE KNOT in the middle of the park in the middle of the Festival as this is their ‘happy place’. They’ve been attending WOMADelaide together for 20 years. We stopped to share in their joy for a moment and wish them well.

For this Melbournian, there were moments throughout the weekend when everything felt a little surreal given our recent pandemic experience…yet so very nurturing for the soul to come back to a place of such great joy.

A fantastic Festival, a credit to the organizers, everyone left with a smile on their face and hope in our hearts that we can do this again next year.

Emma Donovan and The Putbacks
Karen Lee Andrews
The Cat Empire
Reb Fountain


Willy Zygier


Shane Howard
Marcia Howard

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