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Britannia Row Productions celebrate all things WOMAD

Britannia Row Productions celebrate all things WOMAD
Britannia Row Productions celebrate all things WOMAD

UK – Every summer, the country seems to be awash with an increasing number of festivals all looking to attract a particular type of festival-goer. The WOMAD Festival at Malmesbury in Wiltshire is succinctly described by Britannia Row Productions’ crew chief for the event, Colin Pink: “The WOMAD Festival is just a wonderful, four-day family festival, with an eclectic mix of music from around the globe and great food. Britrow provided the audio equipment and crew for all six of the main stages, including the ‘Taste The World Stage’, which featured cookery demonstrations and the best crew food in the South West!”

Two of the stages served by Britannia Row deliver a fair illustration of the diversity on offer. The big Open Air Stage featured a miscellany of acts from the Molotov Jukebox to Atomic Bomb! and Mahmoud Ahmed, attracting the biggest audiences of the weekend and served by a sizeable ousti K1 system. At the helm was FoH engineer Richard Sharrat: “Having both the Midas H3000 and the SSL Live at FoH worked really well, though sometimes, not knowing a guest engineer's preference, both consoles had to be prepared for an act. Tom and Nathan from SSL were brilliant with this and provided sessions for every act based on a template of I/O, FX, Playback, presenter mics, etc that we had settled on. If a band didn’t come with and engineer I got to mix and opted for the SSL. I really enjoyed working from scratch and having to get a mix together in a festival environment, and was very impressed with the console's flexibility and great sound. All bar two of the visiting engineers opted for the H3K which also still sounds great! My weekend was made even more enjoyable by the great team we had to run the stage, supported by Colin Pink and Josh Thomas. Along with James Collee on stage and Maurizio Gennari on monitors they made long days run smoothly and cheerily.”

Tucked away in a wooded copse was the Ecotricity Stage with veteran WOMAD engineer, Bob Lopez on the faders. “This area of the festival is slightly different to the main 'body' of the site; as soon as you cross the perimeter road you step into tranquillity city, far from the madding crowd. Despite the appalling weather every act in this area drew good crowds of between 500-1200. This was my third year at WOMAD so I was well versed in what was required. I used an L-Acoustics ARC system with subs; the secret for this roof is placing the system outside the long arms of the tent. This allows for the huge amount of headroom that is necessary for delicate instruments like a Sarangi, Sitar, or Sardar Tanpura to be compatible with modern electronic instruments.”

“There was one act that featured a string instrument I'd not seen before,” continues Lopez, “called a Geomungo and hails from Korea, four strings and emitting a relatively quiet bass sound. Of course the rest of the band consisted of loud drums, electric guitar and a raging lap top and wouldn't you know it they wanted the quiet Geomungo to be most prominent in the mix! Thanks to the system being out of the tent, cunningly time aligned and EQ'ed, the Geomungo led the sound above the raging electronic background and their show was a resounding success. Our changeover times were generous enough to cope with some head scratching while mic-ing up some really unusual instruments.”

Many of the artists who graced the stages run by Lopez and Sharrat went on to exhibit their skills on the Taste the World Stage where Britrow had supplied 112s and SB15s. Here the day would begin with a Children’s Cookery workshop and continue with artists bringing recipes as varied as flying fish from Zimbabwe to Momo & Po cha from the Tashi Lhunpo Monks of Tibet. As Colin Pink said: it was the place to be for nourishing both body and mind.

“We had a good couple of set-up days and the festival opened with a great atmosphere in the sunny countryside,” he reports. “The following morning we woke up to what was being billed in the press as 'A month’s rain in a day' – rain always makes it a lot harder on a festival site, but the crew all came together brilliantly, to help each other out across the site. The festival crowds still came out to enjoy the music and I can happily say that the rain couldn’t dampen the atmosphere. The rest of the weekend had mixed weather but everyone worked hard to make it one of the happiest festivals of the year.”

“Its always a pleasure working with a great crew,” Pink concludes, “and this one proved that skill, teamwork and humour can make even the muddiest field a great (and fun) place to work.”

21st August 2015

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