AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The definition of world music has always been fuzzy. The definitive place to hear the hottest world music? That's easy - WOMEX.
(SOUNDBITE OF BATIDA SONG, "POBRE E RICO")
WOMEX, short for World Music Expo is celebrating its twentieth anniversary and this festival is massive, think SXSW on steroids. This group, Batida, with players from Angola and Portugal is one of many bands trying to win over the talent scouts, tour bookers and fans who flock there from more than a hundred countries. Now here to help us do a little talent spotting of our own is Anastasia Tsioulcas of NPR Music. She writes about global and classical music. Hey there, Anastasia.
ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.
CORNISH: So this sounds a lot like a festival you've mentioned the past, globalFEST. How is WOMEX different?
TSIOULCAS: Well, globalFEST is really for Americans, musicians playing for American bookers and agents and WOMEX is kind of that blown up into a much bigger scale so it's bigger, it's older, it's better-established and it really is the place where musicians make a huge jump in their careers from their local countries and regions out into a really international presence.
CORNISH: WOMEX moves to a different European city nearly every year. Where was it? Talk a little bit of about what you saw this year terms of local talent.
TSIOULCAS: So this year it moved to Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain in this beautiful Celtic heritage region called the Galicia and I heard some incredible folk musicians there and one I found really irresistible is a singer whom you just have to hear to believe.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CABELLINO")
DAVIDE SALVADO: (Singing in foreign language).
CORNISH: What a voice. Anastasia, who is this?
TSIOULCAS: He is incredible. He's this local Galician singer named Davide Salvado. He looks very modern, very casual. He comes on stage and he's wearing kind of ripped clothes and necklaces and you think you must be fronting an indie band and then he opens his mouth and out pours this incredibly sweet tenor, singing traditional folk music from Galicia in the local language called Gallego, like he does on this track we're listening to. It's called "Cabellino (PH)."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CABELLINO")
SALVADO: (Singing in foreign language).
CORNISH: Anastasia, is WOMEX a kind of place where most of the acts are very traditional, or is this a place where people kind of mix up and modernize the music?
TSIOULCAS: Well, you know, that brings us back to a very old question which is, what is world music? And in my opinion, all music is world music, right? All music is inevitably rooted in some time and place and some culture or other, whether or not we think of that particular culture as being somehow foreign or different from our own, everything is rooted in something but some artists do make their roots connections more explicit than others and some go farther afield. And one of the biggest surprises to me at WOMEX this year was hearing the Mexican band Troker and I had no idea what to expect when these six guys came out on stage.
(SOUNDBITE OF TROKER SONG, "PRINCIPE CHARRO")
CORNISH: Nice big brass band sound. I wasn't expecting that.
TSIOULCAS: No, not at all. I was not expecting to find a new jazz act that I loved at WOMEX. It's this very brass-heavy, almost metal jazz, but there's also hints of hip-hop in their live show and maybe a little funk and horns make you think a little bit of the energy of mariachi. And I know that Troker will be coming back to the States in just a couple of months so I think word is going to get out on them pretty quickly.
(SOUNDBITE OF TROKER SONG)
CORNISH: Well, before I let you go Anastasia, I'm a big dance fan so I want to know if you can leave me anything that I can dance to.
TSIOULCAS: Yeah, I've got just the thing, Audie. I really loved a group from Bogota, Colombia called Tribu Baharu. They are absolutely a dance band and they're so charismatic and so energetic and just so much sheer fun. They play an Afro Colombian style called champeta which they make sound more African with the kind of guitar lines they use and the rhythms, but honestly, you don't have to think about any of that - it is just there to get you to move.
(SOUNDBITE OF TRIBU BAHARU SONG, "EL BESTIDO")
TRIBU BAHARU: (Singing in foreign language).
CORNISH: That's NPR Music's Anastasia Tsioulcas. Anastasia, thanks so much for these WOMEX picks.
TSIOULCAS: Always a pleasure, Audie. Thank you so much for having me.
(SOUNDBITE OF TRIBU BAHARU SONG)
BAHARU: (Singing in foreign language).
CORNISH: And you can hear more of Anastasia's picks from WOMEX on our website, npr.org.
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