Thursday was full of rushing around for most of the volunteers involved. There are significantly less volunteers for PWMF than the hundreds you normally see for RWMF. Most of these people have had years of experience, but I still feel sorry for folks like the schelppers, who have to handle more instruments than they have limbs.

So the bands have arrived, spot promotion have been performed, and everyone gears up for the show.

The press conference on Thursday afternoon saw a representative of each band facing the media at the press centre of the hotel. This media preview is designed to give the press a taste of what music to expect in the next three nights. They also take questions, but the Penang media proved to be a rather quiet lot. Reminds me a lot of home.

There were also significantly fewer foreign media.

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The performers stated various reason for being here, including a very dry “Because we were invited” from the red-haired lady.

Kumpulan Dendang Anak (Terengganu) gave the cultural preservation reason. Their members are young and they work towards inculcating interest. Given that some of their songs date as far back as 600-700 years old, it would be very interesting to hear how it sounds.

Kenge Kenge (Kenya) pointed out that playing at a festival is different from playing at a concert.

“You meet different musicians, and get psyched about the traditional aspects of it.” said their leader. “There is an exchange of knowledge.”

Mojmir Novakovic of Kries (Croatia) agreed. “It’s important for musicians to come and experience a festival like this. You learn.”

Like most musicians where large groups of musicians are gathered, he also hopes to get to jam with the other bands.

Another band I’m interested in is Techung (Tibet). His songs are described as “freedom songs” and the political angle of it was brought up at the press conference.

“I sing them for my community.” said Techung simply. “For everyone else, it will be an introduction.”

Penang World Music Festival kicks off tonight at the Botanic Gardens, Penang.

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