What should have been a highlight of this weekend's WOMAD Festival will be sadly missing from the bill. The great Thomas Mapfumo - musical original, political activitist for his beloved Zimbabwe and legendary voice of East Africa will not be able to appear. Unfortunately he has been refused his UK visa to enter the country.
Thomas Mapfumo is currently residing with his family in Eugene, Oregon whilst the political situation in Zimbabwe remains as it is. He wants to continue to hold his Zimbabwe passport and citizenship and wants to return home as soon as he can.
Mapfumo has been refused a visa to enter the UK, despite having been issued with UK Work Permits. The reasons given for this are that he entered the US on a P visa granted to musicians but then changed this by applying for political asylum and based on this the entry clearance officer at the British Embassy is not satisfied that he intends to leave the UK. The US Department of Homeland Security are currently assessing his situation and have issued Thomas with parole documents which allow him to leave the US and return on or before 25th August 2006. They have confirmed that he is not under deportation proceedings and the form clearly states that he is permitted to return to the US. In spite of this the British Embassy are still not satisfied that he intends to leave the UK and have therefore refused entry clearance. In spite of our best efforts to have been unable to influence the situation.
We very much hope that clearance will be given for Thomas and his band to enter the UK for live dates later in 2006.
For those lucky enough to have tickets to the best World Music festival in....well....the world...you can catch three of the best from Real World Records! This weekend at WOMAD Rivermead (Reading, UK) you can see Guo Yue expounding on music, food and (possibly) love, Los De Abajo stirring things up with their unique brand of Mexican ska and the lovely Värttinä - gorgeous harmonies, fabulous musicianship, scary lyrics!
Check out the WOMAD website - only a few tickets left!
In the August/September edition of fRoots magazine you can read an indepth interview with the wonderful Mexican rebels Los De Abajo. Journalist Christine Charter meets them at home in Mexico City and enjoys the food, the drink and the politics. Genuine activists in the politcal activities of their country you can read what is really happening in Central America....an inspiration both musically and socially!
The band are on tour and shortly to arrive in the UK where their dates include WOMAD Rivermead on Friday 28 July - they are unmissable live!
"Last week, the Real World Studios in Box in rural Wiltshire were ...throwing a party to celebrate 20 years of working, and showcasing some of the artists at work making recordings for the Real World label. A tent on the lawn served as stage for performances and around the mill complex, work was going on. Visitors wandered about, peeking into studios and feeding the ducks.".........Read more abut the day of events at Real World on June 28th in the UK paper The Financial Times.....
The theatrical production of Lord of the Rings currently running in Toronto picked up top honours at the 27th annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards. The production features the music of Real World's Värttinä. Despite some contrary reviews following its March opening, the mega-musical rendering of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy trilogy was the clear favourite among Toronto's theatre cognoscenti, in particular for stagecraft. Its seven awards included Outstanding Musical, New Musical, Direction, Costume Design, Lighting and Choreography in General Theatre. Michael Therriault's compelling performance as Gollum won Best Actor in a Musical Role.
The production will receive its British and European premier when it opens at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 19 June 2007 following previews from 9 May. Tickets go on sale from 2 July.
Everyone on site at Real World had their fingers crossed on the morning of Wednesday 28 June and were looking skyward for signs of ominous black clouds! We were all hoping that it wasn't going rain! This was the day of the Real World Summer Party - our biggest celebration in the last 7 years- and we were relying on the sunshine to make it a perfect day.
The big event was to celebrate 20 Years of Real World Studios, its investment in a future of recording and the unique relationship with Real World Records. The refit and relaunch of two of the main studios - the famous Big Control Room and smaller Production Room - were the motivation to crack open a bottle of wine. It then seemed a good idea to invite a number of Real World artists to the studio and put on a concert in the grounds of the studio.
During the afternoon the invited media took part in a press conference where Peter Gabriel talked about the illustrious history of the studio, played some tasters of forthcoming music to be released on the label and introduced a number of musicians and producers.
Following a wonderful barbeque from resident Real World chief Geraldine, lashings of Pimms, fine wines, delicious deserts and west country cheeses the invited audience of friends and business associates enjoyed an evening of music.
Adrian Sherwood opened proceedings with a mellow 'dub lite' DJ set followed by new comer singer song writer Charlie Winston. Chinese flutist Guo Yue provided a magical moment of solo performance followed by the wonderful Daby Touré who got the crowd in party mood. Sevara Nazarkhan, the beautiful Uzbek diva, was outstanding. LIttle Axe brought the house down (even though we were all outside on the lawn) with a fantastic set of 21st century blues featuring the legendary Skip Mcdonald, Keith Le Blanc, Doug Wimbish and original Tackhead vocalist Bernard Fowler. Quite unexpectedly the band were joined on stage by Robert Plant (who was unable to resist the temptation to get up there with like-minded musicians!) followed by Peter and Sevara. What a finale! The whole evening was brought to a fabulous conclusion with a specially designed firework display - the scale of which has never been seen before in the skies above the village of Box!
And we didn't even have a light shower.....
The song 'Hende Baba' (Let's Go, Father) from the album Rise Up will be Single of the Week on iTunes from Tuesday 4 July. The album is currently being promoted on the front page of the hugely popular download store.
"Well, this is the life that we have so we must be brave and move on because it is all our fault. This is what we wanted so we should not wail.
If we want to live comfortable lives, let's plan ahead for tomorrow. If our country is economically rich, that is what brings happiness to people. Many people lost their lives in the great war that we fought so that everybody would sit pretty.
You and I have to sit down and talk should there be any problem and that is the freedom that we fought for."
Värttinä have released their first DVD 'Archive Live' (available on Sony BMG). The DVD contents include 45 minute edited highlights of the 20th Anniversary Concert at Aleksanterin Teatteri in Helsinki from February 2003; 15 bonus archive TV and video clips from a career spanning 1985 to 2005; 2 rare live audio tracks, interviews, biography, photo gallery.......everything you ever wanted to know about the band in deluxe packaging!