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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Roger Watson
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Describe the atmosphere and live music at a local pub, restaurant, festival, church or temple, club night.... inspire other people to check it out!

Musician: Roger Watson

Location: Bracknell, Berkshire

Instruments: Melodeon / concertina / voice

Music: English folk / world fusion

Listen  Listen (5'07) to Roger Watson's group Boka Halat play 'Sama (Sanyo)'

Listen to Roger Watson in the World on Your Street tent at WOMAD 2003

'I thought, lets try offering people from other cultures our own aural tradition.'

How I came to this music:

I got into music through the English trad. folk revival in the mid 60s. I was always trying to push the boundaries of things a little bit forward. In 1989 I gave up teaching modern languages and started working as a folk development worker' for the then Southern Arts project (TAPS). It became obvious that to make the music reach a wider audience ­ which is what our brief was ­ and get a wider participant base in the area meant that it had to really include people from other cultural backgrounds.

I did a number of projects involving people from other cultures working with English music. I'd noticed that the early world fusions' in the '60s and '70s such as Indo-jazz fusion and people like Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grapelli always seemed to choose composed music like classical styles for the European component, so I thought lets try offering people from other cultures our own (much older) aural tradition'.

In 1999 I founded the group Boka Halat with Musa Mboob, (who's a former member of Ifang Bondi ) and we've spent the last four years experimenting with different combinations of instruments and line-ups.

Where I play:

Boka Halat (Roger Watson, Rachel McLeod, Musa Mboob)We obviously do the usual arts centres, plus the festival circuit, and we've done a couple of very rewarding rural touring circuits, playing in village halls. Often in these places, that will be the closest the locals have ever come to anybody who hasn't got a white skin!

We do a lot of education work at all levels from primary school right up to further and higher education, and a lot of community involvement projects. It's mainly in the south of the U.K. but we are spreading it.

Next year we'll hopefully hit a number of folk and world music festivals because I think we've got things that will appeal to both. Four of us have also been to Sweden together and we're planning something for Portugal.

A favourite song:

It's from our new album Tides, and it's basically an African-led but also Indian-influenced rhythm and an English melody with some Latin American things in it too ­ we have a Chilean member (Mauricio Venegas) who's also a singer, and plays things like charango, pan pipes and quenas.

The song's called Sama (Sanyo) and it's a Mandinka song about rainfall. But the rhythm we use is a cross between a mandinka rhythm called barrawolo, and the kemta rhythm from Gujarat. The two 6/8 rhythms together make a fantastic rhythm to play jigs to, so we segue from Sama (Sanyo) into an English jig called The Plain Tree. I think the track says pretty well all that we do; we like singing songs of African, English and Latin American origin, we play a lot of English country dance tunes and we even play for Ceilidhs.

Read about the other members of Boka Halat, Musa Mboob and Rachel McLeod
Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story

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