Mondo Pop Festival Replaces WOMAD USA

Co-producers split over money, scheduling; One Reel plans more inclusive substitute.

SEATTLE — The annual WOMAD USA world-music festival, scheduled to take place July 27-29 in Redmond, Washington, has been canceled by its producers.

Co-presented for the past three years by the UK-based WOMAD (World of Music, Arts, and Dance) organization and Seattle's One Reel production company, WOMAD USA couldn't survive a split between the two parties.

One Reel will instead host the Mondo Pop Music Festival that weekend on the same Marymoor Park site WOMAD USA occupied.

The breakup was partly about money, unsurprisingly. The festival had yet to show a profit, and One Reel was contractually obliged to return a percentage of the gate to WOMAD for use of the name.

Another factor, according to One Reel spokesperson Amy Wilcox, was that WOMAD scheduled its U.K. festival in Reading, England, for the same weekend as the U.S. event. In the past it had taken place a week earlier, allowing artists to cross the Atlantic and participate in both festivals.

"It was difficult, with their signature event taking place the same weekend," Wilcox explained. "We'd already gone into contract talks with the park system for that weekend, and couldn't change it. We also found it difficult to work and co-present an event from different countries."

WOMAD officials declined to comment on WOMAD USA's cancellation,

The new Mondo Pop Music Festival won't be a world-music event exclusively, Wilcox said. The company hopes to balance global sounds "with some pop headliners, to bring people into the park and sell tickets."

Some of WOMAD's traditional features will remain in place, however, including artist workshops and interview stages. While the lineup has yet to be finalized, One Reel will offer a few innovations.

"We're going to focus on creating unique collaborations, such as asking local musicians we have a relationship with who their dream collaborator is, someone they've always wanted to play with, and then make that happen," said Wilcox.

Seattle is home to Pearl Jam, whose singer, Eddie Vedder, has collaborated with the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and to R.E.M's Peter Buck, who has worked with diverse artists and is also a member of global fusionists Tuatara.