Guest article by Megan Renart
We are a city teeming with festivals. Just about every other weekend, they are spilling off the pages of Austin’s event calendars. Mostly they are centered around two of the human population’s greatest loves: music and food.
We may get into a fight over this, but I’d like to go out on a limb here and say that the world music genre doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. Sure, it’s visible. It’s out there. There are many diverse bands playing all over this fair city. But we have not really had a festival devoted solely to the sounds of the world until recently, when longtime Austin resident and musician/music aficionado Jakes Srinivasan decided to do something about it by founding WobeonFest, a one day festival happening September 20, 2014, featuring world music.
His goal of representing Austin’s multi-cultural tastes is in tandem with something deeper: promoting peace and diversity. I’m on board with this! Plus, the lineup boasts a band from Morocco, Hoba Hoba Spirit, whose signature “Haiha Music” sound is loosely translated as “wild partying music” and makes me secretly wish the band members would all appear on stage wearing lampshades on their heads.
Last April marked WobeonFest’s initial debut onto Austin’s music scene. Held at the MAC, it was an incredible success, garnering a large turnout of Austinites and beyond, with music fans of all ages and types in attendance. In fact, it was kind of heartwarming to see such a variety of people united by song. And, knowing Srinivasan’s dedication, and the heart and soul he is pouring into it, this year’s experience will be no different.
What to Expect at WobeonFest
Here’s a taste of the lively bands and sounds that Srinivasan has curated from far and wide, in addition to our own homegrown talent:
Taj Weekes and Adowa will be returning to Austin (the last visit was SXSW 2011) from St. Lucia, playing his trademark blend of reggae and afro-rock.
Dende and Band hail from Brazil and their afrobeat, reggae, and merengue combo creates a dance party atmosphere.
If you are a cumbia and salsa fan, you’re in luck: Kiko Villamizar from Colombia, now a full-time Austinite, will be showcasing his fusion of afro-colombiano with reggae and other Latin world beats.
I’m intrigued by Maracatu Texas. According to their Facebook page,
“Marcatu Texas is the former Maracatu Austin. In the past, in the era of slavery in Brazil, the Maracatu groups crowned a black king and queen, who would be the communicators between the Portuguese slave owners and the black community to which they belonged. These traditions are still honored in these Marcatu groups today.
“‘Maracatu Texas’ is intended to convey the rhythm of Maracatu, and also many other popular rhythms in the state of Pernambuco, such as the coco rhythms, the Brazilian Candomblé, frevo, ciranda, and many others. Maracatu Texas also uses elements of world music in its arrangements.”
I will definitely be checking them out.
You’ll also have the chance to hear Farah Siraj, who has performed her style of Arabian jazz in front of royalty and on behalf of Jordan during United Nations’ World Peace Day.
Vivalda Dula has been touted as an Angolan “Drum Princess” and has been compared to Angelique Kidjo (who headlined last year’s festival). Her aim is bringing awareness to issues such as human trafficking, child labor, and modern slavery.
Texas talent at WobeonFest includes Dallas band The Funky Knuckles, a vibrant group made up of the ‘sidemen’ to major artists such as Beyonce, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, and P. Diddy. Austin-based Atash will also be performing. The group has been dubed Austin’s Best World Music Band, a dance-y blend of Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.
More Than Music
Fun fact: Srinvisan is pairing up with the Amala Foundation to shine the spotlight on community involvement. Amala isn’t the only one – Srinivasan is collaborating with other humanitarian groups and non-profits to build a coalition that provides mutual benefit to all festival participants.
If that isn’t enough, WobeonFest will be held on September 20th to coincide with the International Day of Peace, which falls on September 21st.
The Nitty Gritty
Saturday, September 20, 2014
501 E 7th Street Austin, TX 78701
Come out! Join me!
Tickets, up-to-date festival information, hi-res images, and the full artist lineup can be found at WobeonFest.com.
Megan Renart is a publicist by day and writer by night, has happily contributed to Austin Eavesdropper and once, just once, had a picture published on National Geographic.
Are you a fan of world music? Will you be checking out WobeonFest 2014?