The 25th edition of the Respect Festival is a return to form. For a quarter of a century, the festival has invited to Prague, for an early summer weekend of outdoor performances, musical artists of multi-genres (though generally under the term World Music) from faraway lands for a gathering of the tribes embracing good vibes, cultural diversity, community and celebration.
Headlining on Saturday is Benin International Musical, a seven-piece group of musicians and vocalists from Benin, the French-speaking West African country, known for being the birthplace of voodoo.
This magical voodoo heritage of Benin is reflected in their music and dance, while their sound is updated to fit the African club grooves at home and in Europe, especially Paris.
Also on Saturday is Oumou Sangare, called the Queen of African pop from Mali; Foufolah, a multi-racial group from London merging Senegalese vocals and West African rhythms (of Gambia) with contemporary club injections from dub, afro-electro grooves, sci-fi synth and guitar; and Atine, a female quintet merging Iranian classical music and the spirt of 19th-century Persian poetry with musical influences from Arabic, Persian, flamenco, jazz and baroque music.
On Sunday, more African groups are on the program including Etenesh Wassie, an Ethiopian diva who gained attention in the early 1990s from the azmaribet cabarets of Addis Ababa for improvising and innovative reworking of Azmari folk traditions. With such Ethiopian roots, she still cannot avoid the influences of the groovy dance sounds of the 1960s-70s Ethio-jazz (led by Mulato Astake and others of this era), while she has yet a newer contemporary sound as a trio with two Europeans accompanying her: Mathieu Sourisseau and Sebastien Bacquias.
Then there is the Nakibembe Xylophone Troupe from Uganda, playing the embaire, a huge wooden construction (xylophone) with multiple players and vocalists (up to eight musicians).
They weave a stunning polyrhythmic and hypnotic trance music from the simplest of materials. Sunday’s headliner is Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino from Puglia, Italy. Pizzica tarantata ritual music or better known as taranta is an intense dance and trance music of southern Italy used in ancient healing rituals to repel the bite of the tarantula, the dangerous poisonous spider of the region.
With tambourines, percussion, bag-pipe, violin, accordion, guitars, and vocals, this six-piece ensemble keeps alive this ancient Mediterranean music and ritual, though it is revived for our times. They have added ballads and pop songs to their repertoire to balance out their musical program, while their motto most telling in the Covid-era has become simply “live is life.”
For more information visit the Respect Festival’s website here: Respect Festival 2022 – Rachot