It was hot. The sun beamed down from forget-me-not blue sky and there was no wind. And it was even hotter when Che Sudaka took the stage. This four-man group rocked for an hour, singing, dancing, jumping, putting everything into their music; giving every ounce of energy they had to the audience.
Up the front, below the stage, hundreds of people danced like there was no tomorrow, sweat dripped off foreheads and clothes clung. Further back the ambience was more of a foot-tapping and nodding to the beat audience, sheltered under the shade of sun hats.
Che Sudaka hail from Barcelona in Spain where they claim to have been illegal immigrants from Argentina and Colombia. They might have been illegal 10 years ago, when they met, shared their interest in music, formed the group and started singing on the streets. Now, with over 1000 concerts behind them, they are Barcelona’s pride and joy.
Their performance combines traditional South American music with ska, reggae and rock. It was pulsing with positive energy and happiness and was the unanimous favourite of our extended family and friends who ranged in age from 10 to 62.
WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) is held every year in March in Pukekura Park in central New Plymouth. On Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday afternoons until late, the park fills with some 12,000 people for a glorious, golden end-of-summer indulgence in world music, dance, cuisine and culture.
There are six stages in different parts of the park so there are three performances to choose from, at any time, leaving three stages for setting-up for the next acts. At the end of each show the crowd ambles off to another venue where artists are ready to roll and rock.
The main stage, the TSB Bowl, is an idyllic concert venue and a stunning setting. The stage tucks into native bush in the bottom of a large natural amphitheatre. There is duck pond between it and a massive grass bowl that fans-out from it.
This is truly world music and 2015 gave us over 32 acts from 21 countries, including a smattering of new and old favourites from New Zealand.
But it’s not all about the music. Nova Energy Taste the World, tucked away in a back corner, offered people interested in global cuisine a chance to learn how to cook it. Every two hours one of the artists gave a lesson in cooking a dish from their country.
There was also fine wine and boutique beer and it was not cheap. A bottle of pinot noir would put you back $30. The cost of the alcohol, and the fact that bags were all thoroughly searched at the gate for illegal BYO liquor, made WOMAD people pleasantly sober though, after dark, there was more than the occasional whiff of illegally smoked herb.
People who attended the concert were as culturally diverse as the performers and the food. The age of concert-goers stretched from the elderly, who had over-65 seating in front of some stages, to tiny babies whose parents had acquired special protective baby earmuffs.
WOMAD prides itself on being a family-friendly music festival and the 12 and 10 year-old girls that I attended WOMAD with were delighted to spend time at Kidzone. Yes, face painting is inevitable and the girls simply had to have a beaded, bright cotton extensions woven into their hair.
The racecourse, adjoining Pukekura Park is given over to motorhomes, caravans and campers. There are designated areas for motorhomes and other self-contained vehicles and family camping areas.
The racecourse buildings have extensive toilet facilities and there are a couple of other temporary toilet-and-shower set-ups at the peripherals of the racecourse. But, at peak times, the facilities get busy and it’s probably wise not to expect a daily shower.
Tickets to stay/camp on the racecourse need to be bought along with the tickets to WOMAD.
When? 18-20 March 2016
Where? Pukekura Park, New Plymouth
Check out the full article in issue #134 of Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations magazine (on sale now!). Subscribe here.