Thursday 28 June 2012

Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival - June 21-24 2012

Updated  28th June 2012
Maggie and got back home on Tuesday, and as of today, I've posted three videos from the Omar Hyat concert to YouTube. I've added a plylist below, which wil grow in the weeks and months to come. I'll write something later. Enjoy!

They published the dates for the 15th Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival - June 21-24 2012 - shortly after the 2011 festival ended, so I've waited till now to start this post on the 2012 festival. Earlier today, the organisers held a twit-fest in conjunction with a press conference, when they announced the artists who will be performing this year. The program itself has not yet been published, but they have declared which venues will be used - the same as last year (unfortunately, Place Bab Marrakech will still just be used as a car park. Funny thing is, when I first arrived in Essaouira, back in 1972, we parked our van on some rough ground just outside the Marrakech gate - plus ca change - as they say).

As last year, the two main venues are Place Moulay Hassan and Scene Meditel, on the beach. While it's still largely a free festival, you can buy a “4 day pass” or a “1 day pass” gives access to room in front of the stage at the two major Festival venues. You also have to pay to get into the intimate music sessions at Zaouia Sidna Bilal, Dar Souri, and Bastion Bab Marrakech. Most of these events cost 100 Dirhams.

Anyway, getting back to the festival, here's a list of the artists taken from the festival web-site :
  • Carlou D (Senegal)
  • Djembe New Style
  • Fareed Ayaz et Abu Mohamed (Pakistan)
  • Hoba Hoba Spirit (Casablanca)
  • The Issaoua Brotherhood (Essaouira)
  • Maâlem Abdelkader Amlil (Rabat)
  • Maâlem Abdelkebir Merchane (Marrakech)
  • Maâlem Abdellah Akharraz (Essaouira)
  • Maâlem Abdelouahed Stitou (Tanger)
  • Maâlem Abdenbi El Gadari (Casablanca)
  • Maâlem Abdeslam Alikane & ... (Essaouira)
  • Maâlem Allal Soudani (Essaouira)
  • Maâlem Hamid El Kasri (Rabat)
  • Maâlem Hassan Boussou (Casablanca)
  • Maâlem Mahjoub Khalmouss
  • Maâlem Mohamed Kouyou (Marrakech)
  • Maâlem Mohamed Lebbat (Marrakech)
  • Maalem Mahmoud Guinea (Essaouira)
  • Maâlem Mokhtar Guinea (Essaouira)
  • Maâlem Mustapha Bakbou (Marrakech)
  • Maâlem Omar Hayat (Essaouira)
  • Maâlem Rachid Fadli Ladhass (Rabat)
  • Maâlem Saïd El Bourki
  • Maâlem Saïd Oughassal (Casablanca)
  • Maâlem Saïd Tahlaoui (Safi)
  • Mobydick
  • Musiciens de Bob Maghrib (Morocco)
  • Musiciens de Mayara Band (Morocco)
  • Nasser (France)
  • Oumou Sangaré (Mali)
  • Querencia
  • Soweto Kinch quartet with ... (UK)
  • Sylvain Luc trio
  • Trio Joachim Kühn, Majid Bekkas, Ramon Lopez & les Gnaoua de Salé (Germany/Morocco /Spain)
My, it's tedious, copying and pasting all of these links, so, maybe I'll get around tgo finishing that later.

So, what sounds good to me?

Fareed Ayaz et Abu Mohamed - Quawalli musicians from Pakistan should be good - I saw Mehr Ali and Sher Ali a few years ago, and they were superb. That was before I started to record and film at Essaouira, but I still have a pretty strong memory of them, so I have high hopes.

Oumou Sangaré from Mali is the only woman to be billed this year - a pretty poor show, if you ask me. She's new to me, but she played here in 2003 - musically, one of my favourite years, so I'm looking forward to her.

Musiciens de Bob Maghrib promise a feast of gnaoua-inspired reggae (or maybe reggae-inspired gnaoua) that should awaken my inner rasta, so watch out, folks.

Omar Hyatt always puts on a great show, but what I really like about him is the way he grooves with jazz and rock musicians, so, I'm interested to see who he'll be playing with.

Hassan Boussou with Nasser and MobyDick will give us electro-rap-gnaoua which should be interesting. Rap's not my favourite, and French rap sounds even less appealing, but Boussou is not a man who makes bad music, so, I'm going to hang fire on my opinion - I'll let you all know how it turns out.

I'm quite excited about Trio Joachim Kühn, Majid Bekkas, Ramon Lopez & les Gnaoua de Salé - Majid Bekkas plays a couple of numbers on my 2003 festival CD - Galou is one of my all-time favourites, so this set is a must for me.

Update: I'm very happy to say that though he wasn't listed originally on the web-site, the Press Dosier says that Maalem Mahmoud Guinea will be playing after all. Hurray!

I'll take a closer look at the line-up in the coming weeks and try to listen to some of the musicians who are new to me, but at first glance, it's looking good.