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ike them he was at university. Having read English at Oxford, where he both acted and kicked off his musical career as drummer, Brooman moved back to Bristol to work on a postgrad thesis on the Scottish poet William Dunbar. He was also providing the drumming for various punk bands and working with friends and fellow musicians on a record label-cum-newssheet, The Bristol Recorder.


The Recorder idea was proving popular and work on it had landed Brooman an interview with Gabriel. This earned him a call from the former Genesis front man inviting him to a meeting to dis- cuss ideas about a possible festival project. Brooman and the Bristol Recorder team got involved from the outset.


Following the financial fiasco of that first Womad, Gabriel and his former band came to the rescue. In a never-to-be-repeated reunion, Genesis with Peter Gabriel played a benefit gig to an audi- ence of over 40,000 people in October 1982 and took care of all Womad’s outstanding debts.


And with that a beautiful idea bit the dust. Except that manag-


er, promoter, mover and shaker Alan James, who’d been involved in the story so far, suggested a two week Womad event at the ICA in London in 1983. This was a big success, both financially (no-one lost any money!) and artistically. Brooman and his Recorder cohort Bob Hooton raised enough money from merchandising to set up Womad as a charity with a cross-cultural educational remit that would facilitate funding.


With help from the Manpower Services Commission they employed Amanda Jones and set about sourcing musicians from across the world and festival sites across the country. And so Brooman takes us off on a rollercoaster ride of luck, synchronicity and derring-do; of music sent to the Recorder office leading to chance encounters with world-class musicians, for example in Parisian record shops or even more simply, on the streets of the French capital (which is how Brooman met Toto La Momposina). Or meeting qawwali masters through Mr Ayub’s shop stuffed with cas- settes in Birmingham.


Before arriving at its famous site in Reading (and later at Charl- ton Park), there were festivals across the country. These took in an island in Essex, a field in Somerset, a country house park in Bracknell and a beach in Cornwall. As the idea not so slowly and very solidly took hold, the artists playing to growing audiences needed to put records out that those audiences could buy. But where to record, say, the twenty-strong Drummers Of Burundi?


Peter Gabriel had built a new studio in Box, a big, bright beauti- ful room made with orchestras in mind. Brooman approached Gabriel with an idea and from the recording needs of Womad artists (and Gabriel’s own), the Real World record label was born, with Amanda Jones in charge.


The festivals quickly found traction abroad. While the Womad team were financially independent they relied on the co-operation of the banks, which was withdrawn in 1991 in the fallout from the Thatcher recession. Womad, with upcoming international festivals, was brought under the Real World umbrella.


Brooman, who knew from experience that the best music is made from the heart, was finding the same held true for interna- tional relationships as he explored every offer to host a Womad fes- tival that had realistic money behind it. He also, as his book hilari- ously points out, explored quite a few that didn’t, although he knew enough by now not to take them further.


And so we get the thrilling lowdown on Brooman’s own extraor- dinary cross-cultural adventures: his journeys with remarkable musi- cians and music lovers across the globe. Between 1988, with the first festivals abroad in Denmark and Canada, and the time of his leaving in 2008, there were hundreds of Womad festivals taking place all over the world. Loads every year, all listed at the back of the book.


Brooman is frank about the Colombian marching powder that fuelled more than a few, and the baroque eccentricities of artists and promoters alike. He also notes strange truths of transcendental experiences and ‘conscious dreaming’, which he says is envisaging something without really thinking about it, and finding it comes to pass, like a vision for Womad itself. He’s not one for religion but strongly believes our energy goes somewhere. He says he under- stands why people believe in reincarnation.


Recounting a story from when he was fifteen and in a climbing accident, falling from a cliff in the Avon Gorge, he tells me “Memo- ries flashed before me, a holiday in Margate, building sandcastles, playing my drum in Buenos Aires. It was a review of my life. An out- of-body experience as I was anticipating death.” He had a lucky and


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