6 Notable Acts from the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017

The Rainforest World Music Festival brought the jungle down from 14 – 16 July 2017.

The annual music festival celebrated its 20th anniversary recently at the Sarawak Cultural Village with the spectacular backdrop of the legendary Mount Santubong. It was first established in 1998 to celebrate the diversity of world music, ranging from traditional music to world fusion and contemporary world music. Renowned world musicians from all continents and indigenous musicians from the Island of Borneo did not fail to entrance the crowd in Kuching yet again. If you missed the great show, fret not. We’ve got you covered. Check out some of the performers below.


Calan meaning ‘Calend’ (being the start of a month, or year) consists of 5 young musicians from Wales who give a fresh and vibrant sound to traditional Welsh music. Formed in 2008, they have been on tour around Europe ever since and have been critically acclaimed by the critics. They bring together unique sounds of fiddles, whistles, guitar, bagpipes, and a pibgorn (a traditional reed Welsh instrument made from wooden pipe and horns of a bull). They released an album entitled Solomon early this year.



This powerful African Jazz band from Cape Town uses marimbas, percussion and brass instruments to weave traditional African rhythms and melodies into a contemporary format. The eight members in the group, all multi-instrumentalists, have been playing their infectious afro-beat marimba grooves since 2001. Their high energy and uplifting music reflects their youth and also their optimistic outlook on life and their approach to music-making. This conforms to their Xhosa name ‘Abavuki’ which means ‘Wake up, early birds!’


At Adau

From our home country, we have At Adau, an experimental world music band from Sarawak. They combine the traditional Bornean sounds of the Sape and Perutong with modern instruments such as drums, percussions, electric and bass guitar, as well as traditional instruments including Djember and Dundun from West Africa, Congas from Latin percussion, Daf from Persia, and bamboo Rainstick. The name originates from two Bornean languages, ‘At’ refers to ‘roots’ in the Bidayuh tribe’s language, and ‘Adau’ is the name of the tree used to craft the Sape in the Kenyah dialect.


Okra Playground

Okra Playground is a Helsinki based electro-folk band from Finland that fuses ancient instruments like the kantele and bowed lyre with modern instruments and sounds. The musicians of this group are well known in folk and pop music fields, you may hear them in bands like Folk’Avant, Hohka, and Malmö. Their debut album Turmio was released in 2015 and received a five star review in Songlines Magazine. With strong vocals by three female singers, age-old lyrics, and striking melodies, Okra Playground’s music takes you to far-off places and close to home.


Dom Flemons

Dom Flemons from the United States experiments with the old-time folk music to create new sounds. He has been performing music professionally since 2005, and has played at numerous festivals spanning from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo. The ‘American Songster’ switches instruments effortlessly, his music comprises Old Time music, Ragtime, Piedmont Blues, Spirituals, Southern traditional music, String band music, jug-band music, and Rock and Roll. He won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album with Carolina Chocolate Drops.



Originating from Colombia, Cimarrón seek to explore their rich heritage while retaining the essence of the tradition. Led by harpist Carlos Rojas, the band creates innovative and timeless music from a variety of instruments like harp, bandola, cuatro, bass, and ethnic percussions. They perform the festive dance music of joropo, a fiercely virtuoso display of melodies and rhythms combining Andalusian, Indigenous Indian, and African roots. They won the Best Latin Album in the 2012 Independent Music Awards and were nominated for Best Album Latin, Best Instrumental Song, Best Latin Song, and Best Music Video at the 2005 Grammy Awards.


Photo source: Rainforest World Music FestivalCalan, Abavuki, At Adau, Okra Playground, Dom Flemons, Cimarrón

Head over to Rainforest World Music Festival offical website to not miss out on it again!

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