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The Review - MUSIC - grooves with RóISíN GADELRAB
Published: 16 July 2009
Your essential festivals summary

AH, the summer: the thwack of willow on wood. Strawberries and cream. Rain through Wimbledon. And the pounding beats of your favourite band rolling over the hillside. There used to be Glastonbury and not much else, but now the summer means weekend after weekend of festivals, and it’s a minefield for the music lover to decide where to go and what to see.
Here is part one of our lowdown to some of the highlights over the next three months. See the links for line-ups.

WOMAD (July 24-26)

In the old days, the word festival meant music festival – you’d be lucky if you could pick up a soggy hot dog and watch a hippie try and juggle cans of lager as sideshows. Now it’s all solar-powered cinemas, cabaret tents, casinos, karaoke, massage areas and lectures on green politics.
But for Womad, in Charlton Park, Wiltshire, it has always been simply about the music. Set up by musician Peter Gabriel, Womad has been showcasing world music for nearly 20 years with an eclectic mix of leading acts from around the planet. You are as likely to catch a funky African jazz combo as a South American samba band, a Deep South blues legend or a Klezmer outfit from eastern Europe.


Set in utterly beautiful country park surroundings in Huntingdon, with an ornamental lake with floating sound systems and dance floors, the SGP is not only an all-nighter but offers serene camping and much silliness. Take your dressing-up box.
SGP’s Freddie Fellowes says one of its secrets is to make sure everyone feels part of it, and is willing to invest their own time into making it work. This means everyone taking part in a fancy dress party, and it means the headline acts are not what it’s really about – it’s about swinging in a hammock with your friends, or swimming in the lake, or dancing all night to a band you’ve never heard before with people you have never met.
This year Grace Jones will be appearing, but it’s the little stages that are the real reason for going: top acid house DJs and the like always pop up at odd times.


(July 31-August 2)
Sometimes a festival appears out of nowhere. Only in its fifth year, Standon in Hertfordshire has carved a reputation as being the best place to leave the real world behind for three days and experience the acts that will be hitting the headlines in the coming 12 months. This year, it’s got a space theme to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the moon landings, and 400 years since Galilleo built his telescope – so expect aliens and astronauts wandering about at 3am.

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