While I was in England I went to WOMAD festival in Reading. Several of my friends were there and it seemed to be a good way to be sure of seeing them. I just went for the day on Saturday as I didn’t want to desert my parents for too long after having just arrived.

It was great! I got a train down from Birmingham. I love trains. Oh why doesn’t the US have a decent public transport system. At Reading I met M. and went back to his house as he lives round the corner from Rivermead Sports Center. In fact, he uses the leisure center for his own athletic activities.

At the festival we met B. and J. and their kids J. and D. They were listening to “Think of One” a Belgium band. Which was a good way to start the festival.

Think of One
Mark and I then went for a stroll round to see what we could find. We ended up listening to Bomba with Derub (Australia/Ethiopia) who had great showmanship. We found outselves listening to a great quartet of musicians who ended up being Titi Robin (France) and his band. I’m in love. There were absolutely excellent. The percussionist, in particular. He did a 20 min solo which was breathtaking. In another piece the accordionist and Titi played back and forth with a musical motif, eventually, after 10 min or so, playing it together. The music had a French gypsy, Moroccan, Indian feel to it. Amazing.

Titi Robin

TR percussionist

My camera batteries ran out at that point so I don’t have any more pictures.

I also got to see the Sunshiners (Vanuata), a Techno band called Orange Blossom (Algeria/Mexico/France) and Ska Cubano (Cuba/Jamaica). We wandered around a bit more but it started raining – first rain in England for about six weeks and the only real rain I had in my whole vacation – so after deciding that we didn’t like the only band playing under cover, M and I headed out.

Unfortunately, Thomas Mapfumo (Zimbabwe) who I had really wanted to hear, wasn’t able to get a visa. Mutter mutter British G’ment mutter. Even the Guardian had something to say about that!

The food at the festival was also excellent. I can’t remember where I ate now, but it even put Clearwater to shame whereas previously that had been the pinnacle of my festival food experience. My standards just keep getting higher and higher. I won’t be able to face Maryland Sheep and Wool anymore – this year I ended up having a chocolate ice cream for lunch as there wasn’t anything vegetarian as I had already eaten a funnel cake for breakfast. I wonder which festival has the best food?