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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 00:27 GMT 01:27 UK
Womad's global weekend finishes
Asian Dub Foundation
Asian Dub Foundation closed the festival on Sunday
By the BBC's Ian Youngs and Martin Vennard in Reading

There were children dressed as shiny shrimps, African drummers, devils, stilt-walkers, Brazilian dancers and giant papier-mâché asylum seekers.

The theme of this year's closing procession of the Womad music festival was carnival - and it showed why this event's traditional parade has become the stuff of festival legend.

The Womad closing procession
Hundreds took part in the traditional procession
All ages, colours and costumes marched around the site on Sunday evening as the culmination of the three-day feast of global music and culture.

It was a music festival first and foremost, with 19,000 people watching more than 60 bands from across the globe.

Sunday had a lot to live up to, and the first act on the main stage, Danza Libre, continued the Cuban theme that had hungover from the night before.

The dancers recounted captivating tales of tribal warriors before a man in black took over and danced to a backdrop of jazz piano.

The show literally reached a highlight when the dancers returned, twirling burning torches.

Danza Libre
Danza Libre: Continued the Cuban theme
In the Village tent, Sacred Chants' calming Indian music had half the audience in a relaxed trance before the appearance of Hradistan, from the Czech Republic.

They alternated between chamber music and energetic eastern European sounds with the oboe, zither and jew's-harp.

Audience participation was again encouraged - one of the things that makes Womad special - when Salsa and meringue sessions were held at the One World stage.

And Senegalese musician Cheikh Lô invited fans on stage during an acoustic masterclass that followed the previous evening's enthralling set.

Badenya Les Frères Coulibaly
Badenya Les Frères Coulibaly: Drumming from Burkina Faso
Back on the main stage, there was no chance of anyone lying back and relaxing during the afternoon show by Badenya Les Frères Coulibaly from Burkina Faso.

If their yellow, blue and orange robes and head-dresses were not attention-grabbing enough, their drumming was breathtaking and it climaxed in a great crescendo.

That was a hard act to follow, but The Orchestre National de Barbès, whose appearance was long awaited, did not disappoint.

Playing like men possessed, they took fans on a lightning musical journey from their Paris homes back to their North African origins.

Bebel Gilberto
Bebel Gilberto is one of the hottest Brazilian acts
Reflecting the multicultural nature of Paris's Barbès ghetto, their percussion, brass and guitar playing had the crowd dancing in the fields around the stage.

The connection between France and north Africa continued when singer Amina and her group combined super cool jazz with traditional French music.

She also mixed Spanish melodies with sounds and words from her native Tunisia.

By early evening, the procession was winding its way around the site and Bebel Gilberto - daughter of Brazilian composer João - marvelled at being able to sing and get a sun tan at the same time.

Fontella Bass
"Rescue me": Thousands rediscovered Fontella Bass
If only she grew a few more inches, she would be tall and tan and lovely, just like her dad wrote in Girl From Ipanema.

Her smooth, sultry latin rhythms were the soundtrack at the main stage as the sun went down.

One of the surprise highlights of the weekend was Fontella Bass - not a brewing conglomerate, but an almost-forgotten American soul diva.

She was the voice behind the enduring hit Rescue Me, and she burst onto the Siam Tent stage with a big voice, big presence - in fact big in every way - and immediately electrified the audience.

Sometime in the past, Aretha Franklin must have got the breaks while Fontella did not, but she still has huge star quality - and a few more fans after Sunday's performance.

Asian Dub Foundation
Asian Dub Foundation: Loud and political
Asian Dub Foundation rounded off the day and the festival with an incendiary mix of hip-hop, dub and traditional Asian beats.

The result may have registered on the Richter Scale, but their campaigning message of acceptance was in tune with the festival's ethos.

By the end of Sunday night, world music fans had got their fix while others discovered some new sounds and fresh cultural inspiration.

And the festival proved that you do not need to be a world music expert to enjoy this warm and vibrant event.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Juan de Marcos, leader of the Afro Cuban All Stars
"We have become ambassadors of Cuban music"
Vanessa Redgrave
speaking to BBC News Online's Ian Youngs about her talk at the festival on behalf of Amnesty International
See also:

27 Jul 01 | Music
Worldwide Womad festivals begin
28 Jul 01 | Music
Womad 2001: In pictures
29 Jul 01 | Music
Cuban stars steal the show
24 Jul 00 | Entertainment
A weekend in Womad world
22 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Womad dances to a global beat
28 Jul 01 | Music
Womad opens to sunny sounds
22 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Womad in pictures
23 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Womad in pictures - day two
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