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WOMAD NZ 2024 - Five Acts To Check Out

WOMAD NZ 2024 - Five Acts To Check Out

Gareth Shute / WITCH photo credit: Pooneh Ghana / Tuesday 12th March, 2024 11:21AM

WOMAD NZ always has such a diverse range of acts that it’s sometimes hard to know which ones to check out. Therefore I’ve picked out five that might not be known to attendees, but which seem like they’ll be amazing (you can check out the full stage schedule HERE). I’ve therefore skipped one of the big names, like Morcheeba (though I’m sure their hits ‘Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day’ and ‘Blindfold’ will be highlights for some).

There’s plenty of wonderful local acts too. Anthonie Tonnon is a phenomenal performer, while TE KAAHU provides spine-tingling tunes in te reo Māori and the project's alter ego Theia is also appearing as a solo pop act. Some who attended Splore have also been recommending Lady Shaka, whose set there was apparently pretty mind-blowing. Those of a certain age might also be excited to see that Strawpeople are also on the lineup, with songs both old and new.

However the festival is all about global music so let’s look at some highlights from off-shore…

Friday 15th March to Sunday 17th March - Brooklands Park and the TSB Bowl of Brooklands, Ngāmotu / New Plymouth

Featuring... Anthonie Tonnon (Aotearoa/NZ), Arooj Aftab (Pakistan/USA), Baaba Maal (Senegal), Bailey Wiley (Aotearoa/NZ), Braxe + Falcon (France) DakhaBrakha (Ukraine), Dubioza Kolektiv (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Equus (Mongolia/Australia), Fin Rah Zel (Aotearoa/NZ), Gilberto Gil (Brazil), Good Habits (UK), Half Queen (Aotearoa/ NZ), Ibibio Sound Machine (UK), Lady Shaka (UK/Aotearoa/NZ), Leenalchi (South Korea), Lisa O’Neill & Cormac Begley (Ireland), Mari Kalkun (Estonia), Mauskovic Dance Band (Netherlands), Mo'Ju (Australia), Moonlight Benjamin (Haiti-France), Morcheeba (UK), Nitin Sawhney (UK), Pongo (Angola - Portugal), Rei (Aotearoa/NZ), Son Rompe Pera (Mexico), Strawpeople (Aotearoa/NZ), TE KAAHU (Aotearoa/NZ), Theia (Aotearoa/NZ), Tejendra Majumdar & Ambi Subramaniam (India), Tio (Vanuatu), WITCH (Zambia), Ziggy Marley (Jamaica) 

OMV STEAM Lab speakers:

Andrew Jeffs (Marine Biologist at Auckland University) and Pete Gillespie (Founder and Head Brewer at Garage Project) Bill Morris (Award-winning Documentary Filmmaker, Wildlife Cameraman and Science Journalist) Jade Kake (General Manager Matakohe Architecture and Urbanism) Megan Tapsell (Chair of AI Forum NZ), Michael Hannah (Earth Sciences), Pedram Hekmati (Mathematician) and Stephen Mushin (Industrial Designer and Comedic Illustrator)

World of Words speakers:

Caroline Barron (Award-winning Author, Story Coach, Presenter, and Manuscript Maestro), Dame Gaylene Preston (Trailblazing Writer, Director and Producer), Helen Lehndorf (Wordsmith And Forager), Kate Evans (Rockstar Journalist) Kura Forrester (Actor, Writer, and Comedian), Dr. Monty Soutar (Teacher, Soldier, Historian, and Novelist), Nick Bollinger (Writer, Broadcaster, and Critic) and Tom Sainsbury (Actor, Comedian, and Social Media Sorcerer)

Tickets on sale now from

1. Gilberto Gil: Bossa Nova Royalty Meets Political Firebrand

Guitarist Gilberto Gil was integral to the Tropicalia movement, which upended Brazilian music in the 1960s with its fearless blending of native styles with rock and experimentalism. He was so popular with the youth of the day that he was imprisoned for four months and then sent into exile in London.

Some of his best songs reflect this difficult period — ‘Andar com fé’ (‘Walk With Faith’) shows his determination to stay positive about the future of Brazil despite his troubles, while while ‘Expresso 2222’ reflects his joy at returning home by describing a train trip from Rio de Janeiro all the way to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado mountain.

2. WITCH: Zamrock's Psychedelic Revival

Hailing from Zambia, WITCH (We Intend To Cause Havoc) blazed a brief but brilliant trail in the 1970s during the rise of Zamrock. They’d heard the Rolling Stones and Hendrix, but fused it with the sounds of their own country to create a wild, addictive fusion of heavy psychedelic rock, garage grooves, and the infectious rhythms of Africa. WITCH made disco music before fading in obscurity.

Eventually they were discovered anew by record collectors and a documentary filmmaker set out to Zambia to see if he could find the band. The only surviving member was Emanyeo "Jagari" Chanda - the energetic lead singer, who took his name from Mick Jagger but has spent the last two decades working as a miner.

The documentarian took a couple of European musicians with him, who were taught in the ways of Zamrock by Jagari and slowly a plan to reform the band came to fruition. They found another former member who’d been the keyboardist in WITCH’s disco days and took off for a tour of Europe. Now they have a new album out and Jagari is back centre-stage, bringing all the fizzing enthusiasm that made his band favourites the first time around. They’re playing both WOMAD and a set of other dates around Aotearoa.

Check out Jagari’s interview on RNZ or dive straight into this great track:

3. Mauskovic Dance Band: Psychedelic Boogie

Basically this group is a bunch of guys from Amsterdam who are really into Afro-Caribbean music. That might not sound promising, but they throw a bunch of interesting sounds into the mix — lots of raw percussion and dub effects — so that the result almost ends up sounding like '80s no wave. That is to say, raw in a garage-y, but very funky way. They were signed by cult label Soundaway which is always a good sign of quality. They were a last minute addition to the lineup, but I suspect they’ll end up being a fave.


4. Tio: Vanuatu's 'Treehouse Troubadour'

The remote islands of Vanuatu aren't the first place that comes to mind for most music fans, but Tio is set to change that. Armed with his ukulele and gentle folk-pop sound, this singer-songwriter affectionately known as the "treehouse troubadour" weaves songs about his island home, love, and simple joys. His melodies feel like a warm ocean breeze and will be a nice respite amidst the business of the festival.

5. Pongo: The Angolan Queen of Kuduro

Get ready for a burst of unstoppable energy! Angolan vocalist Pongo was a driving force in the Lisbon-based group Buraka Som Sistema, known for their explosive take on kuduro, a fast-paced, electronic dance music born in Angola. Pongo’s solo work retains the relentless beats but adds her unique vocal power and a dash of pop sensibility, best heard on 'Kuzola'.


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Womad 2024
Fri 15th Mar 5:00pm
Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth
Womad 2024
Sat 16th Mar 10:00am
Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth
Womad 2024
Sun 17th Mar 10:00am
Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth