While there is no shortage of summer concerts ahead, none of them is quite like WOMAD USA, Peter Gabriel's annual world-music celebration.
Perhaps the most unexpected group set to play the U.S. installation of the festival, scheduled for July 27-29 in Redmond, Washington's Marymoor Park, are Robert Plant and his Strange Sensations band (see "Robert Plant Brings Strange Sensations To States").
While Plant and his new band will mix up originals with Led Zeppelin material, the banshee-voiced singer has in the past collaborated with Hossam Ramzy's Egyptian ensemble as well as Indian singer Najma Akhtar.
Plant and Gabriel are among 40 acts confirmed to play the domestic version of WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance), which also takes place in Australia, South Africa, Japan and various European countries.
"I challenge anyone to come to WOMAD USA and not be inspired by something they see there," said Gabriel, who founded the festival in 1982. "I make a new discovery each time I attend."
This year marks the first time since 1994 that Gabriel himself will perform at WOMAD USA. He will join the African-Irish outfit Afro Celt Sound System as a vocalist. Plant and Gabriel also appear on the group's forthcoming album, Volume 3: Further in Time.
The Neville Brothers, Youssou N'Dour, Steel Pulse and Asian Dub Foundation are among the artists hailing from the 22 countries represented on this year's bill.
Earlier this year the festival appeared dead following a split between its two producers, the UK-based WOMAD organization and
Seattle's One Reel.
"I got a phone call from Peter Gabriel one day," said Ron Sims, Executive of King County, where Redmond resides. "He said, 'We're still on, aren't we?' And I replied, 'Absolutely, Peter!'"
Peter Gabriel's WOMAD festival has long been a quick, intensive way to gain insight into the world's multifarious forms of music. Past festivals have featured performances by Nigeria's Femi Kuti, members of Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club, the Congo's Papa Wemba, Cuba's Los Van Van and countless other internationally renowned traditional, pop and hybrid acts.
Tickets for the event go on sale May 4 and can be purchased at the official WOMAD Web site (www.WOMAD.org).
The complete WOMAD USA lineup, according to WOMAD:
- Afro Celt Sound System (with Peter Gabriel)
- Asian Dub Foundation
- Ballake Sissoko
- Barbara Luna
- Blind Boys of Alabama
- Chemirani Zarb Trio
- Daniel Lapp
- David Lindley
- El Hadj N'Diaye
- Iarla O'Lionaird
- Ifang Bondi
- Julien Jacob
- Justin Adams & Salah Dawson Miller
- Kathryn Tickell
- La Familia Valera Miranda
- Neville Brothers
- Oyster Band
- Puentes Brothers
- Raul Barboza
- Rennie Harris Pure Movement
- Robert Plant and the Strange Sensations
- Savourna Stevenson
- Sawt El Atlas
- Steel Pulse
- Transglobal Underground
- Youssou N'Dour and Super Etoile de Dakar
- Yungchen Lhamo