WOMEX will mark a quarter century in October when the world music expo heads to Tampere, Finland, for what promises to be one its largest – and possibly coldest – editions to date. The conference, which comprises a trade fair, talks, films and a showcase festival, runs from 23-27 October.
“There are more live concerts per capita than in any other Finnish city,” said the organisers in a press statement. “All in all, Tampere boasts Finland’s most vivid and versatile nightlife.”
The opening ceremony will focus on Finnish folk music. Titled ‘Arctic Fire’, the lineup includes power trio Pauanne; jouhikko (an ancient Finnish bowed lyre) player Pekko Käppil; folktronica act Suistamon Sähkö; and folk duo Vildá.
As for the official showcase selection, that includes Georgia’s Bani Hill Band, South African singer-songwriter Bongeziwe Mabandla, Israeli-American trumpeter Itamar Borocho and South Korean reggae group NST & The Soul Sauce. Meanwhile, the club summit programme boasts ZJ Sparks (Jamaica), Cairo Concepts (Egypt/Switzerland) and Dat Garcia (Argentina).
Local musicians have their own programme titled ‘Northern Connections’. Artists include Finnish Jew’s harp player Cätlin Mägi; dreamy folk-pop trio Merope from Lithuania; and Estonian singer Mari Kalkun.
As for the conference, just some of the topics under discussion this year are ‘Export Strategies on a City Level’ led by Music Export Poland’s Tamara Kaminska; ‘Finding Success Through Failure’ with Melina Powell from she said.so; and ‘Introduction to Chinese Streaming and Social Media’ with Alessandro Pavanello from Kanjian Music.
Finally, the film programme boasts 19 music documentaries. Among these are A Bright Light, which looks at the life of legendary cult folk singer Karen Dalton; Indus Blues, a film that offers a portrait of Pakistan’s folk music scene; and Anorac, which follows BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens in a musical pilgrimage across Wales.