Paléo dances to an African beat

The Paléo is one of Switzerland's biggest summer festivals (Paléo)

Visitors to this year’s Paléo festival are being invited to take a musical journey around Africa, as part of the event’s new World Music Village.

This content was published on July 21, 2003 - 14:29

From Algeria to Senegal, the sounds of Africa will blend with the usual mix of rock and pop at Switzerland’s largest outdoor music festival.

The six-day event, which kicks off in the French-speaking town of Nyon on Tuesday, is paying homage to a wide variety of music, including rock, pop, French chanson, jazz, groove and brass.

But this year special emphasis is being placed on world music, thanks to the World Music Village – a new project sponsored by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

“The village was created to pay tribute to music and cultures from around the globe,” said Paléo spokesman Philippe Duvanel.

“We wanted to take spectators on a virtual voyage of discovery to Africa, starting in Tunisia and ending at Reunion Island,” he told swissinfo. “And next year, we’ll do the same thing featuring another area of the world.”

Well-known artists from all over the African continent have been invited to perform at the World Music Village, including Benin’s Angélique Kidjo, Congo’s Les Tambours de Brazza, and Mali’s Salif Keita and Oumou Sangare.

But the sounds of Africa are not the only treat in store: stands offering culinary specialities and handicrafts will help bring the sights, smells and tastes of Africa to Switzerland.

World music

Other types of world music will also be celebrated during the festival, including performances by Jamaica’s Jimmy Cliff, Muvrini from Corsica, and Cuba’s Ibrahim Ferrer.

Some 200,000 spectators are expected to attend Paléo 2003, making it the largest event of its kind in Switzerland and one of the biggest outdoor music festivals in Europe.

Tickets for this year’s event, which also features Canadian rocker Alanis Morissette and Britain’s Badly Drawn Boy, sold out in record time.

The festival kicks off on Tuesday with a surprise appearance by British trip-hop giants, Massive Attack, and will round off on Sunday with a performance by the legendary American band, REM.

“REM’s appearance is the fulfilment of a dream and marks the high point of this year’s festival,” said Duvanel. “The public have a date with one of the last living myths of rock music.”

The organisers credit their all-star line-up and the success of last year’s festival for the event’s continuing popularity. They also say online ticket purchases have increased.

Diverse sounds

But according to Duvanel, it is the diversity of the festival that makes it so successful.

"We have all styles of music to suit every taste and the festival tends to reflect the very latest trends in the music business, such as British rock,” Duvanel told swissinfo.

An unusually high number of British bands have been invited to take part in this year’s event.

But the organisers have also made sure that Paléo stays true to its roots by inviting plenty of Swiss performers, including the local Jura group, Magicrays.

Meanwhile, the Swiss crooner, Adrian Weyermann, will give his first solo performance at Paléo, since splitting several years ago with the Zurich group, Crank.

swissinfo, Anna Nelson in Geneva

In brief

The Paléo festival started in 1976 in the French-speaking town of Nyon, which lies between the Jura mountain range and Lake Geneva.

Since then it has become the country’s leading outdoor music festival and will welcome its three millionth visitor this year.

The sold-out event will feature 110 concerts and shows, as well as a new “World Music Village” dedicated to the sights and sounds of Africa.

Music lovers who could not get tickets to this year’s festival can check out the Paléo website, which offers a multimedia section, including audio and video of this year’s featured artists.

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