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