WOMAD event finalizes its lineup

Organizers of the upcoming WOMAD Festival in Greece have just finalized the lineup for this year’s event, bolstering the bill’s tally to a total of 24 acts, including the DJs, from the 16 acts which were originally published on WOMAD’s official website ( The three-day event takes place between June 14 and 16 at the Athens Equestrian Center in the Goudi district (55 Messinias), which was also the venue for last year’s event. For over a decade, the renowned World of Music, Arts and Dance event has taken exciting multicultural casts from country to country. This summer’s production has turned into a major concert highlight. The festival has been integrated into the Cultural Olympiad, the Culture Ministry’s four-year series of events leading to the Athens 2004 Olympics. WOMAD’s agenda for Athens this year includes David Byrne, the former leader of the now-defunct progressive pop group Talking Heads and a main instigator of world music through his ethnically focused Luaka Bop label that helped popularize exotic acts in the West while the nascent circuit was developing. The acts to play in Athens include one of his label’s signings, the Peruvian singer Susana Baca, a latecomer who released her first album last year at the age of 50 thanks to Byrne’s interest; Cape Verde’s «barefoot diva» Cesaria Evora, another belated discovery in the West; Toto La Momposina, a famed artist in Colombia; the popular UK-Pakistani act Asian Dub Foundation; Algerian-French rocker Rachid Taha, an exciting international act; Senegal’s Baaba Maal; and the Shaolin Monks, a touring act hailing from an ancient temple in China that has made a unique theatrical presentation of its renowned strength, discipline and courage. They will perform on all three nights. The festival’s cast also includes some worthy local acts, such as Thanassis Papaconstantinou, Socrates Malamas and Melina Kana, three tightly bound artists that emerged from northern Greece early last decade. They will be sharing an hour-plus slot at WOMAD. Papaconstantinou, an imaginative part-time songwriter from Larissa, has managed to record several albums of compelling material when not engaged by his full-time vocation as a state-employed electronic engineer. His previously limited cult following is nowadays burgeoning. Another artist with a growing fan base, his pal and regular collaborator Socrates Malamas, an acclaimed Thessaloniki-based songsmith, has transgressed from cult status to wider terrain in recent years. Joining them will be Melina Kana, whose sensual vocal abilities have graced some of their recorded work and live shows. As exponents of some of the country’s best contemporary material in recent years, all three are excellent choices. So, too, is an older artist, Domna Samiou, an effervescent 73-year-old performer and musicologist who has spent decades researching, recording, and performing traditional Greek material. Day 1 (June 14): Mahmoud Fadl (Egypt); Thanassis Papaconstantinou, Socrates Malamas and Melina Kana (Greece); David Byrne (US), Trio Mocoto (Brazil); Gotan Project (France); Shaolin Monks (China); Billy Cobham (US); Alboka & Marta Sebestyen (Spain/Hungary). Day 2 (June 15): Badenya les Freres Coulibaly (Burkina Faso); Baaba Maal (Senegal); Pyx Lax (Greece); Rachid Taha (France/Algeria); Asian Dub Foundation (UK/Pakistan); Shaolin Monks (China); Sophia Spyratou Dance Theater (Greece). Day 3 (June 16): Asere (Cuba); Domna Samiou (Greece); Cesaria Evora (Cape Verde); Orquestra Aragon (Cuba); Susana Baca (Peru); Shaolin Monks (China); Maria Del Mar Bonet (Spain); Toto la Momposina (Colombia). Tickets go on sale Thursday at a WOMAD kiosk in Syntagma Square, Metropolis music stores, and the Karolos Koun Theater box office (5 Pesmazoglou St).