Wellington Batucada plays WOMAD

An unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience

Wellington Batucada group photo after our WOMAD gig - photo by Graham DwyerYou may recall a few months ago we hassled you incessantly to vote for us in the WOMAD Performer Competition. The prize was to perform at WOMAD 2015.

You may also recall that we won the competition (thank you SO MUCH for your votes!), and last Saturday we claimed our prize, and played for an hour on the Gables Stage at the WOMAD festival in New Plymouth.

Wow. What an amazing experience. When I got up that morning, all excited and full of anticipation, I told myself that this was very likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and a highlight of our drumming career – and that I should enjoy every single moment of it.

We hadn’t really warmed up – most of our soundcheck hour consisted of the stage crew building risers for us – so we were on-stage drumming from cold, pretty much. No half-hour “jump off-stage and go play in amongst the crowd” that we had planned for the second half of our set – an hour before we were due to play the organisers told us we couldn’t do that, as they were expecting sell-out crowds and there wouldn’t be enough room… so there was Tim, backstage with us all, going “OK we’re going to have to do a whole bunch of stuff on stage that we haven’t rehearsed… do you all remember how to do Afoxê?”. No recording of our gig from the sound desk, as someone forgot to press the “record” button on the mixing desk. The front row of drummers and the dancers in blazing sun rather than the shade we had expected from the stage – in fact the stage was so hot that the dancers (initially in bare feet) had to go off at an appropriate moment and put shoes on.

And yet, and yet – none of that mattered at all. Not even a tiny bit. We were at WOMAD, a festival we all love and admire – playing our music to friends and family and all sorts of other people who maybe haven’t ever heard us before – and it was all completely perfect.

I had no nerves or stage fright – just a huge grin on my face the whole way through – and a massive sense of pride as I drummed my heart out on that stage with 19 other members of my Batucada family and looked out into the crowd at all the rest of our Batucada family, all dancing and singing and clapping and leaping around in mad dancing formation.

Bloody wonderful.

We’d like to thank WOMAD for running this competition and for giving us the opportunity to compete. We’d like to thank every one of you who voted for us and who put up with our endless requests and reminders to cast your vote.

And most of all we’d like to thank the Wellington Batucada Batmembers – for busking for votes, for asking everyone you could think of to vote for us, for coming up with creative and innovative ways of getting more votes – and for doing all that with no guarantee that you’d actually end up playing.

Although only 20 of us were allowed to perform, which was really sad as so many amazing performers missed out on selection – we were playing with every one of you in our hearts. To see you all out the front dancing in formation with us was truly a joy to behold. YOU ALL ROCK.

Here’s some video. There will be more, I’m sure, and photos….

The start of the show – singing Oribe and playing Funkanui
Video by Kirsty Brewin

The start of the show – singing Oribe and playing Funkanui
Video by Alan Blundell

Ijexá with a bit of talking from Tim at the end
Video by Kirsty Brewin

Video by Alan Blundell

Tim bamboozling the crowd with call-and-response clapping, followed by call-and-response pieces from the band
Video by Alan Blundell

Video by Kirsty Brewin

Photo gallery

Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version. You can use left and right arrows on your keyboard to navigate. Photos by Graham Dwyer:

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