If anybody's curious... here are some artists whose showcase performances I especially enjoyed at WOMEX (http://www.womex.com),
the annual Europe-based world music conf. I attended last week in Thessaloniki, Greece:
DakhaBrakha (Ukraine) - Cathartic (and visually compelling) performance Ukrainian women and percussion guy - their driving percussive pieces with fiddles and vocal polyphony are mind-blowing, some insane Pagan ritual. Amazing - somebody has to bring them to North America!
Geomungo Factory (South Korea) - Korean group plays four trad zithers mixed with other elements. Very upright formal concert hall presentation yet they do some crazy things with the instruments, using fx like flangers and invoking Hendrix.
Janusz Prusinowski Trio (Poland) - I only saw a few songs but was intrigued by this group: Accordion, clarinet etc pulling from different traditions but radically reworking stuff - in the sort of jazz / open format meeds trad vein that you hear in Europe sometimes. They did one super fast song in an odd rhythm that was a killer.
Mokoomba - Afro rock band from Zimbabwe that really grows on you. Elements of Afro-Latin and a hint of 70s Afro-jazz style too. A bit retro-inspired perhaps in line with current trends, but not easy to pin down - very original sounding band.
Le Sahel (Senegal) - revival of 70s Senegalese band - when Latin influence was still big in the music - seems like an obvious follow-up to Orch. Baobab. Still, they put on a good show, great playing, good stage presence.
Groupa (Sweden) - groundbreaking 30 plus year veteran Scandinavian folk revival trio playing their new extended and quite non-traditional improv piece, Silent Folk. The lineup features a special 5 main string / 5 sympathetic string fiddle (not a hardanger but made to give the feel of that instrument but blend better with other instruments), horn and a very personalized percussion kit (their drummer also plays instruments he makes from ice - under the right conditions of course).
Finally: Two of the three bands on a special showcase of artists from Puglia in southern Italy were among my favorites of the entire showcase festival:
Mascarimirì - this group really has a distinctive stage presence. On stage in the middle is a lute player who looks pretty traditional and mild mannered, but on his left and right are two gigantic guys of medium age (not super young) with styling hairdos who play loud and hard but also have absolutely beautiful voices. And in the back they have an electronic / laptop guy. They blow out the tarantellas but they also can do intimate vocal polyphony. They were superb.
Antonio Castrignanò with his band - tarantella pizzica in almost a rock setting (he has lights going all around his frame drum) - very electric and rocking full band - although I only saw the last couple of songs.
WOMEX is "The most important international professional market of world music of every kind [..]" (UNESCO) WOMEX 12: 17-21 October in Thessaloniki, Greece.