Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Festival: Les Suds à Arles

One of my favourite festivals is under way in France at the moment, the Les Suds à Arles event.

For a week, from the 11th to the 17th of July, the town - best known internationally for its link to Van Gough - becomes an international meeting place for world music acts, with shows and events on from 10am until 4am in venues throughout the town.

The festival, being held for the 16th time this year, attracts around 60,000 people and over 200 performers for around 100 concerts and events in the heart of Arles, a picturesque town in the Bouches-du-Rhone department in the South of France.

As well as big outdoor shows in the evening at the roman Théâtre Antique d'Arles, there are smaller informal shows throughout the day, many free, giving a taste of something new and the chance to hear voices and music from every corner of the world.

The festival includes acts from internationally established names to future stars in the field of world music, DJs and a full diary of music-related events such as films and conferences

This year the big names include American Balkan folk rock band Beirut, flamenco star Estrella Morente and Afrocubism who take the Buena Vista Social Club concept into the 21st century.

of course, for all its international flavours, there is a strong French current going through the event, but this means 'French' at its most inclusive, such as Staff Benda Bilili from Congo Kinshasa, the afrofunk of Debademba and congopunQ from Paris.

Meanwhile Breton singer Erik Marchand - no stranger to international collaborations, as the video below shows - appears in a concert along with guitarist Rodolphe Burger and electric oud player Mehdi Haddam.

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