One of the oldest and most popular world music festivals in Europe, the Amsterdam Roots Festival returns to the Netherlands this year between 30 June and 3 July.
This annual celebration of world and roots music always brings a wide variety of international stars to Amsterdam. This year’s edition has a particularly strong emphasis on African music, with a line-up featuring artists young and old from every corner of the continent, including DR Congo, Namibia, Madagascar and Reunion.
Taking place as usually in two parts, the festival kicks off with the Roots Indoor series of events at various venues in Amsterdam between 30 June to 2 July.
Performing during this time will be Kenya-based Congolese band Orchestre Les Mangelepa. Founded by musicians from the Swahili-speaking part of eastern Congo, for the past 40 years they have earned legendary status by touring extensively in central and East Africa, living testament to the influence of Congolese music on Kenya’s music scene, particularly in terms of the Rumba sound.
Also performing during Roots Indoor events will be Moroccan producer Officer Fishdumplings with percussion group Dakka Chrafoo, as well as German reggae star Gentleman with Ky-Mani Marley from Jamaica, the son of Bob Marley; and Los de Abajo, all the way from Mexico.
As usual, the Amsterdam Roots Festival culminates in Roots Open Air, where an estimated 50 000 music lovers flock to Oosterpark to hear artists from all over the world. This will happen on Sunday 3 July.
Plenty of music will be on offer, running concurrently on two different stages. Scheduled to perform at Namibian singer-songwriter Shishani and her new band Namibian Tales; Burkinabe artist Baba Commandant and his Mandingo Band; Saodaj' from Reunion, who recently showcased at the Indian Ocean Music Market (IOMMA); Algerian band Djmawi Africa, who bring their energetic stage show that fuses traditional instruments with modern influences to The Netherlands for the first time; tsapiky pioneers Damily from Madagascar; and ground-breaking Moroccan outfit N3rdistan.
Artists performing from further afield include Elito Revé y Su Charangon (Cuba) and Flavia Coelho (Brazil), while Belgian-based DJ Funky Bompa will also be in the mix.
Besides the great music on offer, the Amsterdam Roots Festival is an opportunity to experience the cultures of the world first hand, through dance workshops, kids’ entertainment, clothing stalls and a seemingly endless supply of food and drink.
Amsterdam Roots has Over the years been responsible for introducing many of the biggest names in African music to Dutch audiences. Programmer Danka van Dodewaard told Music In Africa about the history of the event: “Amsterdam roots festival started in 1983 under the name Africa Roots Festival. It took place at the pop venue Melkweg in Amsterdam. The names of musicians playing at that time were still very unknown in the Netherlands: Fela Kuti, Franco, King Sunny Adé, Salif Keita and Manu Dibango. The festival was a success from the beginning.
"It changed a couple of times in name and focus but for the last 19 years it has been known as the Amsterdam Roots Festival. We present artists from all over the world now - and always many artists from Africa! We have around 15 000 visitors on the open-air program of the festival called Roots Open Air.
“African music is become more and more popular, not only for the ‘world music’ lover but for all kind of music lovers,” added Danka. “Roots always books international bands along with national and local artists. It’s an important platform for the African diaspora in the Netherlands. Many artists started at Roots, and because it’s a free festival, we don’t have only a ‘high-brow’ audience but a beautiful mix of all ages, education levels and cultures.”