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Rhythms of the World

You are in: Beds Herts and Bucks > Entertainment > Music > Rhythms of the World > All about ROTW 2008!

Rhythms of the World

Rhythms of the World

All about ROTW 2008!

Bob Marden, Performance Director for Rhythms of the World, talks about his role and reveals what we can expect from the 2008 festival.

Rhythms of the World Festival

12-13 July 2008

Hitchin Priory

The Rhythms Code

Rhythms of the World is organize entirely by volunteers from your community. Please show your support for all these people by following the Rhythms Code.

1. Enjoy the unusual, each day of the festival

2. Respect the town of Hitchin for hosting the festival

3. Take personal responsibility for your rubbish

4. Do not bring glass with you

5. Show your appreciation

6. Leave your car at home

As Performance Director for Rhythms of the World, what does your role entail?

Bob: It means I'm in charge of the booking of all the acts and organising where they're going to be and how they're going to get there.

How did ROTW start?

Bob: This is the 17th annual Rhythms of the World festival. The first one was in 1992 and was organised by the local Oxfam campaigns group, to raise awareness and try and raise a bit of money for Oxfam. They ran it until 1999 and they'd had three years where it just rained. In those days it was just four or five bands playing on the back of a truck in the middle of the market place.

I'd got involved by then and we separated it from Oxfam because they were getting very fed up with the amount of work it was taking to raise just a little bit of money. We set it up as Rhythms of the World as it is now and it's gradually grown since then. It grew organically and spread out across the town.

Toque Tambor

Toque Tambor

How has the festival changed since 1992?

Bob: Instead of being four or five hours on a Saturday afternoon, it's now two days and instead of being one stage, it actually peaked at nine stages last year. This year, with the new site, we're down to six stages, but there will still be a tremendous diversity of entertainment and wonderful things going on all weekend.

Tell us about each stage.

Bob: The Main Stage is the big stage and that's the one that's got mainly the World Music on it. I'm very proud this year to have a gentleman called Billy Cobham
as the headliner with a band called Asere from Cuba. He's worked with Miles Davies and all sorts of people like that              

He's Panamanian and moved to New York when he was six or seven. At Womad in 2002 he met up with Asere, this wonderful Latino band from Cuba. They've been
teaching him Spanish and he's been teaching them technique and the combination is the most incredible show that you will ever want to see.  

Nick Turner at ROTW 2005

The Willows stage is much more the softer semi-acoustic side of things. The Phil Friendly stage is the much louder option with a lot of local bands playing on that but there are some really good class acts playing all the way through on all the stages.

The St Mary's stage is an interesting one. In the past we've always used the big church in the middle of Hitchin as one of the stages for the more spiritual and contemplative music. This year we've got a big marquee and it's a very elegant one. It's going to be a 600 seater auditorium and the vicar and the parish have agreed that we can use all the pews from the church in it for our seated audience. In there we've got four or five hours of jazz on Saturday evening and that will range from electronic, ambient, weird experimental stuff, right the way through to lounge jazz and there's a special project called Rhythms of Contemporary British Jazz, which consists of ten, local, professional jazz musicians who have got together just to celebrate the music of living jazz
composers of the day.

The Eclectic stage is a very small stage which is much more for solos, duos, comedy and poetry.      

Rhythms of the World

Playing at Rhythms of the World

A new venture for us this year is the Arena. We're trying to open Rhythms up so that it isn't just for the local people who are into music. Rhythms is all about bringing the whole community together and a lot of people aren't into music but they are into sport or dance. In the Arena we've got everything from all the local scouts doing a big gang show to 18 local pubs in a tug of war. We've also got line dancing, judo and boxing and it's all representing organisations and groups from the local area. Therefore, if people are interested and want to get involved afterwards they can pick up information.

The whole point of Rhythms is about trying to get people to take part in their local community, get out of their homes and join in and get on with stuff.      

Why did you decide to let the BBC Introducing have a stage this year?

Bob: BBC Three Counties have been a great support to us for a long, long time. They've been there almost as long as I have! The Willows stage and the Phil Friendly
stage have both had a major upgrade this year and are taking their rightful place as the joint second stages for the festival, so it's great to have professional voices introducing the bands, most of which have been on BBC Introducing. You guys know these bands and can talk to the audience about them and introduce them
properly as they should be and that's really, really good.   

The Acoustic Front

The Acoustic Front

What else is there for people not interested in sport or music?

Bob: There's so much. There's a children's area with workshops such as Native American Indian Dance and cowboy song, plus juggling workshops, face-painting, a climbing wall and hundreds of stalls, food stalls and craft stalls etc.

Anyone coming to the event can come for the entire day. You can bring a picnic with you, but you won't need to because there will be so many wonderful different food stalls from all around the world. The smells of Rhythms of the World are wonderful, as well as the sounds!

last updated: 13/06/2008 at 16:32
created: 13/06/2008

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Daniel Horatio
What a weekend - moving it to the priory definately kept the good atmosphere in and the idiots out - even better than last year, well done Bob!It's well worth the cost of a pack of cigs :)

I was also one of the many wary of the new siting and the pricing...but hey, it's only £10 for 2 days. It was great, Really enjoyed it again. The arcadeelectic stage had some great bands / artistes. I'll be going next year for sure. Loved it

Bill, the £5 entrance fee is an absolute bargain, and the atmosphere was the best yet, the only people who come to the festival now are people who come for the music. It's nice to get rid of the drunks who could spoil it, also the cost of picking up the litter last year must have been high, quite a lot of people were just chucking their litter on the floor last year, and that really annoyed me, as this was one of the major issues. People should have made a big effort to put their rubbish in the bin. So if people were so desperate for it to stay free they should have at least respected that and put their litter in the bin! Everyone I have spoken to who went to the festival agree that it was amazing, the best yet and the way forward.

Pat Sleat
It was absolutely amazing! Like most people, I had reservations about how it was going to work in its new setting, but decided to go along with an open mind and if I didn't like it, well then I wouldn't go again. It was fantastic, I loved it in the town but in some ways it was even better at the Priory. And just to prove that Rhythms isn't just for the kids, I'm a Senior Citizen. Roll on next year!

i think the festival was great. very different from being in the town, but bob and the team pulled it off wonderfully

Bob Brogan
To Bill Montgomery I say, you missed the best Rhythms of the World yet. Don't judge something until you've experienced it. If you want to speak on behalf of "the majority" you need to KNOW their views, not pre-judge them. ROTW 2008 was peaceful, friendly, full of family groups, and I did't meet one grumpy old man all weekend!

Debra Hardy
I had my reservations about how well ROTW would work at the Priory, many of which have been voiced here by Bill Mongomery. However, I went with an open mind and I thoroughly enjoyed the festival. It still felt like a community event and was possibly better for being more cohesive. There was plenty of room for people to sit on the grass and relax without their view of the stage being spoiled by sound equipment or stall. As always, there were lots of families there, despite the wet weather. I didn't mind paying £5 per day - its only a nominal amount after all, especially compared to what other festivals charge (Codifest = £20) and I took the supplies I needed with me and felt no desire to leave and re-enter. My reservations have been laid to rest and I hope ROTW stays at the priory.

This was a fantastic event and the transfer to the new site made it an even better ROTW. Thank you Priory for letting it be hosted on your grounds, fingers crossed this will be the 1st of many at this site

It's the Monday after ROTW 2008, and I have to say that everything Bill Montgomery had to say was total rubbish! (apart from the facts that you have to pay to get in, but by god was it worth it) It was a great day, much better than it has ever been, lots of families and their children enjoying it as much as everyone else, far from subdued!

Leon Camfield
I urge you to ignore Bill Montgomery. His is the typical reaction of a man who has given nothing to the festival, & yet has taken so much. The festival has outgrown the town; anyone with a modicum of vision can see this. Had we attempted to hold the festival in town this year, it would have been the last ROTW. How selfish of Mr Montgomery to suggest nobody attend, simply because he chooses not to pay a paltry £5 a day - you would pay significantly more than this to see Billy Cobham on any other stage in the world.

Terry Leggett
Totally agree with Bill, i look forward to going each year but not this year, pay to get in ? no chance

Bill Montgomery
I urge you to boycott this event. This year the event is, for the first time, charging for admission with no free re-admission and the stages will be sequestered from the main part of the town.This is against the wishes of the majority of Hitchin residents ( I am one of these!). It will make it harder for families with young children to take part and it destroys the very things that made this a really special festival.I am ashamed at the limp-wristed response of the organisers to whining police objections which should have been dealt with much more robustly.It was a magical transformation of our town for a weekend, now it's just another limited, controlled and subdued non-event.It's probably too late to get the organisers to reconsider for next year, but I for one will continue to champion ROTW in its previous form: in the town, free and very special.Bill Montgomery

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