Looking forward to Africa Oyé in 2015? Of course you are, it’s better than Christmas. This year it’s on Saturday and Sunday 20th and 21st June. Meanwhile, a few memories of Oyés gone by.
Today is Midsummer, the midpoint of the year, the solstice. And from all its possible significances the greatest for me is that this, as ever, is the weekend when we have Africa Oyé here in Liverpool. Our great festival of African Music and Culture.As you may know if you’ve been around this blog a while, I don’t do Christmas. In fact I mostly walk the empty streets and avoid the thing altogether. But I do Africa Oyé and I always have done. It’s sort of my own personal Christmas. Two days of making merry in the Park, meeting up with people who matter to me, listening to the music and simply being there. Like it’s a place, a great big village that comes to life just on the two days of midsummer. To celebrate Africa, to celebrate Liverpool. To celebrate all of us.This week in the park they’ve been building the village.
Oyé began as just a few gigs in the city centre in 1992 then grew. Often early on it would take place in Princes Park. I remember one year even going over to Birkenhead Park. Then from 2002 it’s been here. Firstly on the field by the Palm House, but now here on what’s called the ‘Review Field’.And I don’t think I’ve missed a single Africa Oyé. Apart from two years ago when it was rained off. This year the weather’s looking fairly settled round here for the rest of June, so here’s hoping for a weekend of Liverpool at its best.
Like in 2004 when a group of people who’d been standing to the side of the stage looking nervous:
You never know when something magical will happen.
Also unforgettable that year were Misty in Roots. Powerful reggae rocking the whole field on a sunny afternoon. Well this year they’re back.In fact here’s the full line up for both days.As ever, a good few people I’ve not heard. And I know you can YouTube anyone now and hear what they’ll sound like but I like to be surprised. Like I wonder what Wara from Cuba sound like?It’s never all rocking either. Some of the best times over the years have been everyone sitting back listening to something quietly gorgeous. Having one of those ‘Africa Oyé’ moments.
And in between the music? There are people to talk to, drums to drum, plenty to eat and drink and buy. And Movema will be there teaching everyone who wants to, to dance.So download your programme, or pick one up from all over Liverpool at the moment. I got mine from the Culture Hub down by the Pier Head.Paul Duhaney of Africa Oyé was there too.
And don’t forget, fantastic as it is, it’s free! So do buy some things from Africa Oyé at the festival to support them. They run the bar and also sell their own t-shirts. And during the festival evenings (and the rest of the year) they run gigs too.‘All proceeds go towards keeping Africa Oyé free and open to all.’
So, last night from Sarah’s allotment we could hear them doing the sound checking, and this morning it’s all ready to start. See you there?