Richly layered Afro Mexican Music Making Weekend Memorable

My confession? Years ago I didn’t like much Mexican music much. Yeah I just lumped it all into one big “thing”. Fortunately for me –that is no long true.  Now I enjoy it immensely. While  Chicago is  especially fortunate to have several genres this weekend to choose to go see from Mariachi to alternative rock at the 8th annual Mole de Mayo festival- the artists playing Son Jarocho this weekend are outstanding. Happily it’s one of my favorite genres. Son Jarocho is sometimes called the Mexican blues. It originated in Veracruz -a seaport which in prior centuries had  African slave markets.   Son Jarocho music and dance owes it’s African roots from that infamous activity.   Often we don’t realize the influence of the African diaspora  spread throughout Mexico & South America.  We tend to focus on it’s influence in our jazz & blues & the Caribbean music and culture.  Chicago is lucky tho: several institutions in Chicago from Hothouse to Old Town School of Folk Music to the National Museum of Mexican Art present Son Jarocho.  In fact Hothouse is in the midst of a project called Chicago -Guantanamo Blues Exchange which included musicians who specializing in playing Son Jarocho as other African influenced music in a cultural exchange in Cuba.  See more at our link in the Chicago Defender article by Stan West.

Jaime Rodriguez Garcia of Pachanka Music Culture  programmed the music for Mole de Mayo sponsored by the 18th Street Development Corporation. He’s a major proponent of this genre in Chicago as well as being a kick ass rock/cumbia bass guitarist with Dos Santos Anti Beat. He is also one of the musicians who took part in the Hothouse project in Cuba.  Under his music programming the entertainment promises to be as vibrant and rich as the Festival’s culinary namesake Mole the smokey, complex dish the festival is named after. And the festival’s programming spills over to other places as well–like Old Town School of Folk Music and Thalia Hall.

On Friday Old Town School of Folk Music presents Son de Madera direct from Veracruz,  Mexico with a performance. OTSFM  also offering  workshops on Sat May 27.

If you haven’t seen them before this is a great opportunity to see the real thing–traditional Son Jarocho direct from Veracruz for it’s Friday global dance party.  Tickets $20  On Saturday Son de Madera will also perform at the Mole de Mayo Festival at 8 pm. See the Schedule below.

The next exciting group is the established 2013 Latin grammy winners from East LA “Quetzal”.   They will be at Mole de Mayo on Saturday May 27 at 6 pm.

This outstanding  Chicano group established for 20+ years is well known for their social activism as well as their music. They also play Son Jarocho mixed with other kinds of alternative latin.

On Sunday night the popular Chicago Sones de Mexico closes the Mole de Mayo festival.  They are also 20 year veterans  offering Son Jarocho as well as many other genres.

FYI: all these bands have also played at the Smithsonian.

Another musical highlight of the weekend include Celso Pina the popular Mexican accordionist known for his cumbia as well as mixing ska, rock, reggae & more with Nortena and other mexican styled music.  He closes the Saturday night  at the Mole Festival and on Sunday night Pachanka &  8 Track Presents him at the Official Mole de Mayo After Party at Thalia Hall with IFE--a very HOT Puerto Rican group which mixes traditional Yorban chant & rhythms with electronic effects very seductively.  Dos Santos Anti Beat is also on the program with their high energy psychedelic cumbia.  Highly recommended show.  Tickets

Check out the hot  ÌFÉ, –who also played the Chicago World Music Festival 2016.

Also on my list of recommends includes Victor Garcia Latin Quartet at 6:30 on Sunday at Mole de Mayo.  More on Victor soon.   He’ll also be at Sabor tonight (Friday) and Jazz Showcase on Tuesday May 30 in a free WDCB sponsored show.

Speaking of Jazz Showcase:  Chico Freeman Plus + Tet visits us from Switzerland this weekend.  Of special interest is Sunday when his Uncle George Freeman will join him also on guitar.  George just celebrated his 90th birthday  and will be headlining at this year’s Chicago Jazz Festival.

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Seriously–need your help to continue with We Want Music Without Borders.

Please donate here: Thank YOU!


Saturday & Sunday 4pm – 6pm
LA LUNA west stage MC Jaime de Leon
Friday, May 26* LA LUNA Stage (west) *
5pm – Luis Zamora & Karen Bloom
6pm – Tierra Roja
8pm – Mariachi Perla De Mexico Oficial* EL SOL Stage (east) *
5pm – Súbele
7pm – You Are Here
9pm – Yanga* LUCHA LIBRE STAGE *
5pm – Charlie Glitch
8:30pm – Cedeño Brfrecords*** SÁBADO, MAYO 27 ***
Saturday, May 27* LA LUNA Stage (west) *
12pm – Baruch & DJ Juliocesar
1:30pm – Brinco del Chinelo
3pm – Chicago Mariachi Project
4:30 – Beats y Batería
6pm – Quetzal
8pm – Son de Madera
9pm – PyroBeat Ensemble Fire Dance* EL SOL Stage (east) *
12pm – Guapachosos
1:30pm – The Luna Blues Machine
3pm – ¡Aparato!
6:30pm – Dos Santos Antibeat Orquesta
8:30pm – Celso Piña y Su Ronda Bogotá* LUCHA LIBRE Stage *
12pm – The People’s Stage Karaoke with Pablo Serrano
4pm – Sonido Viernes 13 Rocknroll
5pm – DJ Mosko Cruz
7pm – Mr. Bobby
8:30pm – The Ponderers*** DOMINGO, MAYO 28 ***
Sunday, May 28* LA LUNA Stage (west) *
12pm – Nahui Ollin Huehuecoyotl
1:30pm – Las Tequileras
3pm – Ramiro R Duarte
4:30pm – Rubén P. ALvarez y Raices Profundas
6pm – Bocafloja Quilombo-Oficial
7pm – Brinco del Chinelo
8:30pm – Sones de Mexico Ensemble* EL SOL Stage (east) *
12pm – TBA
2pm – Leticia Servin
3:30pm – Claudia La Gitana
5pm – Money Chicha
6:30pm – Victor Garcia Latin Quartet
8:30pm – Los Vicios de Papá* LUCHA LIBRE Stage *
12pm – Pablo Serrano Peoples Stage Karaoke
4pm – Baruch
5pm – DJ Juliocesar
6pm – TBA
7pm – Bumbac Joe
8:30pm – Charly García de (((SONORAMA)))/ Future Rootz
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Thank You For Your Strong Support & Generous Donation

by Gail Dee

Thank you to Lisa Zane for your very generous $50 contribution. Lisa is an American singer, songwriter & actress with an eclectic international folk classicism, individualistic pop songwriting, and the soul of a chanteuse.  As our 4th contributor on April 26 –it was very uplifting to read  ‘I think your site is wonderful and I refer to it a lot, besides posting shows.  It’s lead me to venues where I’ve then performed, and introduced me to people in our community.  Invaluable”   Lisa just recently performed doing Argentinian rock mixed with other eceletic music in her new group called Flapunco.  Touch the interactive image icons to learn more about Lisa and her music. 



Joanie & Sparrow (the  Jazz Journalists Association Chicago 2016 Jazz Heroes) have been my supporters for years. Their continual kindness & generous $70 donation sincerely appreciated as well as their commitment to music! Can’t wait to hear their new song on Sunday May 21 (11:30 pm) in tribute to the circus.  (touch the interactive image icons for videos and more information created as a special way of saying “thanks’!!!)


THANK YOU TO BYOUNG SUG KIM & GlOBAL PUNGMUL INSTITUTE(touch the interactive image icons for videos and more information) created by Gail Dee in gratitude for your generous $100 donation.


Apryl Broach Brave Chronicles

Thank you April Broach

THANK YOU to SONIA HASSON for your loving support

THANK YOU to JOSHUA SIEGAL for your kind donation

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Salsa. Swing. Steppin’ Chicago Summerdance 2017 Schedule with New Contest & Grand Celebration

by Gail Dee

Hot off the presses!  Chicago’s beloved 21st Summerdance announces it’s schedule.  The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will be presenting Swing, Salsa, Zydeco; Tango, Afrobeat and More at SummerDance.   Every Friday–Sunday, June 23–September 10, in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park and on Saturdays and Thursdays, July 13 – September 14, at Eight Neighborhood Parks Throughout the City.

NEW this year to the largest annual outdoor live music and dancing series in the United States, a day -long dancing festival, the Summerdance Celebration, in  Millennium Park on Aug. 26 and a SummerDance-Off.  The SummerDance-Off will search for Chicago’s greatest amateur footwork and steppin’ dancers at a series of competitions held throughout July at Chicago Park District locations, and the SummerDance Celebration will present a day-long dancing festival on August 26 in Millennium Park.

The SummerDance-Off invites residents to show off their footwork and steppin’ skills at a series of city-wide amateur competitions on July 8, 15, 22 and 29 at Chicago Park District locations as part of the SummerDance in the Parks program. The winners of each local contest will then compete at the Dance-Off finale at the SummerDance Celebration in Millennium Park on August 26.

The new SummerDance Celebration on Aug. 26 festival will feature a full day of dance competitions, social dancing and performances from noon to 9:30 p.m. Additional highlights include a DJ Dance Party at Cloud Gate, Circle Dance Lessons on the Great Lawn, professional dance performances at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and much more.

Admission to all Chicago SummerDance events is free, and more details will be announced in June.

We Want Without Borders will be providing updates with detailed information on the performers. Be certain to sign up for our email & newsletter subscription.

For We Want Music Without Borders fans some notable shows will be Chicago’s boisterous Mucca Pazza and Underground System contemporary Afrobeat group from NYC coming in Friday, September 8, 6–9:30 p.m. I recently caught Underground System intimate show at Martyr’s –they were definitely a #danceparty.  Recommended. Terrence Simien’s Zydeco is cheerful and fun.  Salsa direct from Puerto Rico includes Orquesta el Macabeo and  Cuban Son and Salsa with Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros.  There’s many Chicago Swing favorites such as Flat Cats and Cash Box Kings; Irish “Bua” and DJ’s galore with a special Tribute to Herb Kent on July 6 on DJ Eric “ET” Taylor (Chicago Steppin’) and the Majestic Gents.  Chicago’s Bomba Con Buya at Humboldt Park Boathouse.  See some of the videos added to whet your appetite. Check back for more updates later.

Do you appreciate the information WWMWB has been bringing to you for the past five years thru our FB group; FB page, youtube channel and/or new newsletter? Now you can  donate to help We Want Music Without Borders continue.  Any amount deeply appreciated.   Your financial support is needed.  Thank you!

SummerDance brings people of all ages and skill levels together in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden (601 S. Michigan Ave.) on a 4,900-square-foot, open-air dance floor made of 100% recycled material. The series offers free, introductory one-hour dance lessons by professional instructors followed by live music and dancing. The FREE programs take place each Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoons from 4 to 7 p.m., on most dates between June 23 and September 10 (see schedule below). In 2017, SummerDance events in Grant Park will be part of each evening of Taste of Chicago, July 5–9, and the opening weekend of World Music Festival Chicago, September 8–10.

Chicagoans can also enjoy SummerDance in the Parks, July 13–September 14, at eight different neighborhood parks throughout the city including the Humboldt Park Boathouse and Washington Park Refectory. Unless otherwise noted, dance lessons begin at 6 p.m., with live music and dancing from 7 to 9 p.m. SummerDance in the Parks is presented as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Park District at Night Out In the Parks. For more information about the Night Out in the Parks initiative, visit

Includes Chicago SummerDance, SummerDance in the Parks, SummerDance-Offs, Taste of Chicago Dates and World Music Festival Chicago;

Schedule is Subject to Change




Friday, June 3, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
SummerDance Preview at The 606 Block Party
Humboldt Boulevard and other locations
12:30 p.m. The Volo Bogtrotters (Contra + Square Dance)
2:30 p.m. Sons of Susan (Swing)
5:30 p.m. Mr. Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies (Zydeco)
7:15 p.m. Cumbanchero: A Big Band Tribute to Rafael Hernandez (Salsa + Cumbia)

Friday, June 23, 6–9:30 p.m.
The Outcast Jazz Band (Big Band Swing)
Margot Toppen and Riley Wimes, Jr. (East Coast Swing)

Saturday, June 24, 6–9:30 p.m.
Lynne Jordan + The Shivers (Motown + R&B)
Dawud + Lura Shareef (Chicago Bop)

Sunday, June 25, 4–7 p.m.
Alma Afrobeat Ensemble (Afrobeat)
Idy Ciss (Traditional West African Dance)

Friday, June 30, 6–9:30 p.m.

Mucca Pazza (A Little Marching Band)
Mucca Pazza will perform + teach creative marching, freestyle cheerleading and Chicago Dweebstep


Saturday, July 1, 6–9:30 p.m.
Luis Palermo + Brasa All Stars (Salsa)
Dance Academy of Salsa (Mambo)

Sunday, July 2, 4–7 p.m.

Idy Ciss (Traditional West African Dance)

Wednesday, July 5, 6–9 p.m.
Bua (Irish Folk Music)
Trinity Irish Dance (Irish Folk Dancing)
Part of Taste of Chicago at the regular location in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden

Thursday, July 6, 6–9 p.m.
DJ Eric “ET” Taylor (Chicago Steppin’)
Majestic Gents (Chicago Steppin’)
Part of Taste of Chicago at the regular location in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden

Friday, July 7, 6–9 p.m.
Steve ‘Miggedy’ Maestro
Part of Taste of Chicago at the regular location in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden

Saturday, July 8, 2–5 p.m.
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Garfield Park Golden Dome, 100 Central Park Ave.

Saturday, July 8, 6–9 p.m.

Orquesta el Macabeo

Latin Rhythms (Salsa)

Sunday, July 9, 4–7 p.m.
Lawrence Peters Outfit (Honky-Tonk Country)
Jeffrey Cannon and Meg Kindelin (Country Two-Step, Waltz)

Thursday, July 13, 6–9 p.m.
Bomba con Buya (Plena + Bomba)
Ivelisse Diaz with La Escuelita Bombera de Corazon (Plena + Bomba)
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Humboldt Park Boathouse, 1301 N. Sacramento Ave.

Friday, July 14, 6–9:30 p.m.
The ERA (Footwork)
Following a lesson covering basic moves from 6 to 7 p.m., the ERA Footwork Crew will perform as a crew to their mixtape “In the Wurkz”

Saturday, July 15, 2–5 p.m.
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Washington Park Refectory, 5531 S. Martin Luther King Dr.

Saturday, July 15, 6–9:30 p.m.
Timba Brava (Timba Salsa)
Chicago Dance (Salsa)

Sunday, July 16, 4–7 p.m.
Newpoli (Italian Folk Music + Dance)
Newpoli will teach Pizzica, a traditional tarantella from Apulia called “Salento”

Thursday, July 20, 6–9 p.m.
El Caobo (Salsa, Mambo, Bachata)
Denita Inez & Desueño (Salsa + Bachata)
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Ping Tom Memorial Park, 300 W. 19th St.

Friday, July 21, 6–9:30 p.m.
The Fat Babies (‘20s and ‘30s Jazz and Swing)
Big City Swing (East Coast Swing)

Saturday, July 22, 2–5 p.m.
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Hamilton Park Cultural Center, 513 W. 72nd St.

Saturday, July 22, 6–9:30 p.m.
Charanga Tropical (Salsa with Strings)
Mixed Motion Art (Mambo, Cha-cha)

Sunday, July 23, 4–7 p.m.
May I Have this Dance Presents Ballroom + more!
Nino DiGiulio (Cha-cha + Waltz)

Thursday, July 27, 6–9 p.m.
Aguzate (Vintage Salsa DJ set)
Dance Academy of Salsa (Salsa, Cha-cha)
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Humboldt Park Boathouse, 1301 N. Sacramento Ave.

Friday, July 28, 6–9:30 p.m.
The Cash Box Kings (Chicago Blues)
May I Have This Dance (West Coast Swing)

Saturday, July 29, 2–5 p.m.
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Hamilton Park Cultural Center, 513 W. 72nd St.

Saturday, July 29, 6–9:30 p.m.
SALSA  Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros

(Cuban Son, Salsa)
Arthur Murray Dance Center (Salsa)

Sunday, July 30, 4–7 p.m.
Teddy Lee Orchestra (Ballroom)
Fred Astaire Dance Studio – West Loop (Fox-Trot, Rumba)


Thursday, August 3, 6–9 p.m.
Carpacho y Su Super Combo (Colombian, Salsa)
Denita Inez & Desueño (Salsa)
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave.

Thursday, August 10, 6–9:30 p.m.
Petra van Nuis Quintet (‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s Classic Swing)
Dancing with Class (East Coast Swing)
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Jackson Park Grove 6B, 1971 E. Hayes Dr.

Friday, August 11, 6–9 p.m.
Tyree Cooper

Saturday, August 12, 6–9:30 p.m.
National Steppers Society (Steppin’)
Kenneth Watkins (Steppin’)

Sunday, August 13, 4–7 p.m.
The Main Stem Orchestra (‘30s & ‘40s Pre-Bop era Swing)
Kasper Dance Studio (Swing/Jive)

Thursday, August 17, 6–9 p.m.
Orquesta Charangueo (Afro-Cuban Jazz, ChaChachá, Cuban Son and Mambo)
May I Have This Dance (Salsa)
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave.

Friday, August 18, 6–9:30 p.m.
DJ Just Jacob (Kizomba, Modern Bachata)
Latin Street Dancing (Kizomba, Bachata)

Saturday, August 19, 6–9:30 p.m.
SONORAMA DJ Collective (Cumbia)
Latin Rhythms (Cumbia)

Sunday, August 20, 4–7 p.m.
The Revelers (Cajun, Zydeco + Swamp Pop)
Louie Stallone + Monica Vachlon (Cajun Two-Step + Waltz)

Thursday, August 24, 6–9 p.m.
Angel d’Cuba (Salsa)
Latin Street Dance (Salsa)
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Willye B. White Park, 1610 Howard St.

Friday, August 25, 6–9:30 p.m.
DJ Boolumaster (Classic House, Disco)
The Thomas Twins (Line Dancing)

Saturday, August 26, noon–10 p.m.
Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.

Sunday, August 27, 4–7 p.m.
DJ Naveen Kumar (Bollywood)
Bollywood Groove (Bollywood)


Friday, September 1, 6–9 p.m.
Dwayne “Diz” Washington

Saturday, September 2, 6–9:30 p.m.
Redwood Tango Trio (Argentine Tango)
Tango 21 (Argentine Tango)

Sunday, September 3, 6–9:30 p.m.
Volo Bogtrotters (Country and Square Dance)
Paul Tyler (Caller)

Thursday, September 7, 6–9 p.m.
The Flat Cats (Jump Blues, Swing)
Fred Astaire Dance Studio – West Loop (Jitterbug)
Part of Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Ping Tom Memorial Park, 300 W. 19th St.

Friday, September 8, 6–9:30 p.m.
Underground System (Afrobeat)
Kimosha P. Murphy (Dances from the African Diaspora)
Part of World Music Festival Chicago

Saturday, September 9, 6–9:30 p.m.
Duo Scofano-Minetti (Argentine Tango)
American Tango Institute (Argentine Tango)
Part of World Music Festival Chicago

Sunday, September 10, 4–7 p.m.
Feufollet (Cajun)
Louie Stallone + Monica Vachlon (Cajun Two-Step + Waltz)
Part of World Music Festival Chicago

Thursday, September 14, 6–9 p.m.
Kalapriya presents Bhangra Blowout with DJ + Live Dhol
Kalapriya (Bhangra)
Part of World Music Festival Chicago + Chicago SummerDance in the Parks
Willye B. White Park, 1610 Howard St.

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Millennium Park Summer Music Series 2017 Announced!

by Gail Dee Updated April 5, 2017

We Want Music Without Borders Must Sees include Amadou & Mariam from Mali; rising star Dayme Arocena from Cuba; the legendary Youssou N’Dour from Senegal; and Totó La Momposina from Colombia. Throw in Jaga Jazzist with Norwegian Electronic Jazz; Frank Waln with  Lakota Hip Hop; AfrotroniX for intrigue. Sultry sweet songstress Gary Moreno from Guatemela; Latin Rockers Centavrs from Mexico are frequent visitors to Chicago.  Juneteeth Celebrates Jazz with vocalist Gregory Porter and Jazz Journalist Association’s Jazz Hero 2017 cellist Tomeka Reed. Series opens with Bluesman Otis Taylor, followed the next Thursday by No BS! Brass Band-a Nola style brass band and Cuba’s Dayme Arocena. Catch Chicago’s newest R & B soul sensation Zeshan B & the Transistors with headliner Lady Wray in a complete night of soulful celebration at the end of June. July features Indie band Hurray for the Riff Raff; alt country rocker Drive By Truckers and there is still more in this genre busting summer series –indie rock; gospel and more R & B soul.

David Chavez, the curator of the series has made solid selections for a wide audience. Upon listening and reviewing the acts, it appears he may have chosen some musicians based on their musical activism and subject matter as well as listening enjoyment. DCASE did announce “The 2017 lineup includes artists from the U.S. as well as Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Mali, Mexico and Senegal—advancing Chicago’s status as a welcoming city” with  both  established and emerging artists. Yes, several acts will be familiar to many Chicago music lovers which in the midst of our turmoil –will be comforting. There are many delectable discoveries as well. It’s going to be a summer of very pleasurable listening and picnicking in the most beautiful outdoor venue in Chicago–full of the urban diversity city dwellers relish.

Do you like being part of a community that celebrates diversity? For the past five years We Want Music Without Borders The Facebook Group; Page and website has been fueled solely by my passionate love for music and people. Now it’s necessary to ask for financial contributions to continue.  If you appreciate We Want Music Without Borders, your generosity is greatly needed.

Please make a donation today to help us continue our work connecting the hearts of people through music.    Or See the link below. Thank you!

From JUNE 12–AUGUST 21  the 2017 Millennium Park Summer Music Series will offer an exciting line-up of FREE outdoor concerts every Monday and Thursday, June 12 – August 21 (except where noted) at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. All concerts are FREE and open to the public and performances begin at 6:30 p.m. and take place rain or shine. There will be no concerts on Monday, July 3, Thursday, July 6, Thursday, July 27, Monday, July 31, Thursday, August 3 or Monday, August 14.”

The full 2017 Millennium Park Summer Music Series line-up features:

Monday, June 12, 6:30 p.m.
Otis Taylor (Blues)  Multi instrumentalist on banjo, harmonica, mandolin and guitar. Otis grew up playing banjo which he points out was from Africa. His latest release Otis Taylor, Fantasizing About Being Black,” is a stark and poetic lesson on the historical trauma of the African American experience, from the voyages of slave ships to the Mississippi Delta” Don’t walk on by this concert. Definitely a recommended roots experience for We Want Music Without Borders music lovers.

Ben Sollee & Kentucky Native (Americana) “A genre-bending cellist and songwriter who combines classical artistry with bluegrass and pop, Sollee has created a unique and infectious take on folk music.” His best known song “Letting Go” he wrote for the movie “Killing Season”. Sollee is also known as a political activist with his music frequently touching on social issues including poverty and environmental issues. He’s a man of action too  taking his environmentalism on the road with Ditch the Van using bikes to tour with his band instead of a van.

Thursday, June 15, 6:30 p.m.
No BS! Brass Band (New Orleans Brass Fusion)

Dayme Arocena -the Afro Cuban Jazz vocalist & composer is a rising jazz phenomena. She last appeared at the Pritzker for 2015 Chicago Jazz Fest with Jane Bunnett & Maqueque. This time she returns leading the chant –literally and figuratively as she mixes influences of Santeria with soul and Afro Cuban rumba. Expect her to be hot, Hot, HOT.  Tiny Desk concert produced by Felix Contreras.

Monday, June 19, 6:30 p.m. – Juneteenth Celebration
Gregory Porter (Soul Jazz)

Tomeka Reid Quartet – The outstanding versatile cellist  Tomeka Reid will be leading a quartet for the Juneteeth celebration. She is one of the 2017 “Jazz Heroes” recognized by Jazz Journalist Association this year.

Thursday, June 22, 6:30 p.m.
Hurray for Riff Raff (Indie)
Matthew Santos (Indie)

Monday, June 26, 6:30 p.m.
Jaga Jazzist –Electronic jazz from Norway.

AfrotroniX (African Electronic)

Thursday, June 29, 6:30 p.m.
Lady Wray (R&B Soul)

Zeshan B & the Transistors Chicago’s rising star sings R & B soul with a classically trained voice playing a…harmonium.  Yep. And nails it.

You’ll find lots of talk about this Indian American Muslim in NPR; Marco Werman‘s PRI; Aaron Cohen in Chicago Tribune and elsewhere. Why? His music breaks stereotypes and forges a new path with soul. His debut album “Vetted” resurrects old civil rights songs with Sam Cook type styling  while singing in three languages and playing a harmonium, an instrument well known in Indian and Pakistani music as well as occasional vocal flourishes associated with South Asian music qawwali. He grew up with a Dad who loved American R &B; soul and blues however has classical opera training.  In this album he consciously wants to use  music as a way  to unite with black and brown people.  Interestingly, we learn in his interview with PRI he says he felt socially privileged growing up in America and he’s embarassed by the prejudice shown from some of his people.  This isn’t the first time he’s shown he wants to “unite” people.  In 2014 he combined the Pakistani and Indian national anthems as an ode to the culture of both nations in “Border Anthems”. This is definitely We Want Music Without Borders territory.




Monday, July 10, 6:30 p.m.
Natalie Prass (Indie Rock)
Angelica Garcia (Indie Rock)

Thursday, July 13, 6:30 p.m.

Toto La Monposina -Colombia’s legend. Real World Artist.

Xenia Rubinos (Indie Pop)

Monday, July 17, 6:30 p.m.
Big Thief indie rock from NYC -In all honesty- I’m slow to warm to this genre -generally it’s too tepid for me. To be fair singer-songwriter Adrianne Lenker and guitarist Buck Meek have many fans including NPR. I’ll include a Pitchfork review of their album “Masterpiece”  It’s always better to see them live and see what you think.  That’s what I will do. Keep exploring.

Overcoats (Indie Folk Soul)

Thursday, July 20, 6:30 p.m.
Drive-By Truckers (Alt Country Rockers from Alabama)

Honeysuckle (Progressive Folk)

Monday, July 24 6:30 p.m.
Amadou & Mariam (Afro Pop) Mali’s popular singers wow audiences with their warm vocals and extraordinary grace.  All the more amazing because both are blind.

Frank Waln Sicangu Lakota Hip-Hop

Monday, August 7, 6:30 p.m.
Gaby Moreno (Latin R&B)

Thursday, August 10, 6:30 p.m.

Senegalese Superstar Youssou N’Dour!

Bassel & The Supernaturals (Neo-soul Funk)

Thursday, August 17 6:30 p.m.
Joshua Nelson (Kosher Gospel Music)
Tone Ross & INSPIRED (Gospel Music)

Monday, August 21, 6:30 p.m.
Headliner TBD.
**Schedule of Performers is Subject to Change**

The Millennium Park Summer Music Series is presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and sponsored in part by the Chicago Transit Authority.

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18th World Music Festival Chicago 2016 Lineup Announced!

Updated Sept. 11, 2016

by Gail Dee

Look who is coming to the 18th  World Music Festival Chicago 2016!
From Cuba to Chile; Ethiopia to Sudan; Mongolia to India; Italy and Poland–this edition of the WMFChicago brings FREE culture to Chicago’s doorstep — no passport or visa required. The only requirement is curiosity. With 60 artists from 25 counties–noone gets stopped at the WMFChicago 2016 border . A quick glance shows that although the festival is longer in length this year -no performances on Monday and Tuesday. (or Wednesday the first week) .
Focus is on multiple venues scattered all over the city versus the Pritzker Pavilion–which hosts one afternoon event on Sat. Sept. 17
More to come on We Want Music Without Borders about the artists. Sample the artists on our interactive image #deelight. The icons link you to videos and music of each artist. We are adding to it daily. At end of this article see our #deelight with links to all of last year’s artists.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announces this year’s line up below:
  “The world comes together at the 18th Annual World Music Festival Chicago, September 9–25, 2016, at a variety of venues across the city. Celebrating the diverse music from nations across the globe, this FREE festival is produced by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and is the largest festival of its kind in the United States. Highlights of the 2016 festival include the all night Ragamala: A Celebration of Indian Classical Music, a weekend collaboration with Chicago SummerDance in Grant Park, a concert in Millennium Park and the The 606 Polyrhythmic Procession and Global Peach Picnic.
    On the first night of the festival, Friday, September 9, Ragamala: A Celebration of Indian Classical Music starts at 6 p.m. under the Tiffany stained glass dome of the Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.). A tradition in India, the all-night classical concerts are rarely held publicly in the United States. Visitors have the exceptional opportunity to hear the ragas (traditional scales or modes) during the early morning and late night hours when they were meant to be played. The concert features more than 10 musical groups and artists through 9 a.m. the next morning.
     Also, the first weekend of the festival, Chicago SummerDance in Grant Park (601 S. Michigan) closes with a world music lineup that includes two days of Salsa music with Adonis Puentes and the Voice of Cuba Orchestra and OLA FRESCA as well as a Bhangra Blowout with DJ and live Dohl presented by Kalapriya.
     In the second weekend of the festival–UPDATE: Pat Thomas is NOT APPEARING AT MILLENIUM PARK. In his place Occidental Brothers (African Highlife, Chicago) appears.  The afternoon of music will begin at 3 p.m. with a performance by Herencia de Timbiquí, a fusion of traditional Afro music of Colombia’s Pacific coast and contemporary urban music.
     The following day, Sunday, September 18, The 606 Polyrhythmic Peace Procession and Global Peace Picnic is a day of family-friendly activities including instrument making, peace procession, music and more. The Global Peace Picnic from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Humboldt Park Boathouse (1301 N. Sacramento Ave.) features concerts by Rocky Dawuni, Herencia de Timbiquí, and Rajab Suleiman & Kithara.
    The full schedule with locations and times of each performance is included below. For more information and festival updates, visit and follow the festival on Facebook and on Twitter @WMFChicago #WorldMusicChicago.
Friday, September 9
Tsukasa Taiko (Chicago, USA)
Daley Plaza
50 W. Washington St.
12 p.m.
Adonis Puentes and the Voice of Cuba Orchestra (Cuba/Canada)
Chicago SummerDance–Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park
601 S. Michigan Ave.
Dance Lesson: 6–7 p.m.; Live Music: 7:30–9:30 p.m.
Nano Stern (Chile)
ÌFÉ (Puerto Rico)
Chop Shop & 1st Ward Events
2033 W. North Ave.
10 p.m. (doors open at 9 p.m.)
Ragamala: A Celebration of Indian Classical Music
Chicago Cultural Center–Preston Bradley Hall
78 E. Washington St.
Sep. 9, 6 p.m.Sep. 10 9 a.m.
6–7:15 p.m. Josh Feinberg (sitar) with Anindo Chatterjee (tabla)
7:30–8:45 p.m. GS Rajan (mandolin) with M.S. Sukh (mridangam)
9–10:15 p.m. Partho Sarodi (sarod) with Abhijit Banerjee (tabla)
10:30–11:45 p.m. Aditya Prakash (vocals), Salar Nader (tabla) with Shiva Ramamurthi (violin)
12–1:15 a.m. Shujaat Khan (sitar) with Manpreet Singh (tabla)
1:30–2:45 a.m. Anjna & Rajna Swaminathan (violin and mridangam)
3–4:15 a.m. Lyon Leifer (bansuri) with Subhasis Mukherjee (tabla)
4:30–5:45 a.m. David Trasoff (sarod) with Subhasis Mukherjee (tabla)
6–7:30 a.m. Sama Venkatesaiah Balakrishna Troupe (flute, vocal, mridangam and rhythm pad)
7:45–9:00 a.m. Satish Vyas (santoor) with Manpreet Singh (tabla)
Saturday, September 10
Special Percussion Workshop with ÌFÉ
Festival guests ÌFÉ introduce Cuban Rumba, Puerto Rican Bomba and a spirited Rumba.  Opera-Matic will also be making peace flags for The 606 Polyrhythmic Procession and Global Peace Picnic on Sept. 18.  All materials and instruments provided, free and open to the public.
Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center
4046 W. Armitage Ave.
11 a.m. –1 p.m.
Mulatu Astatke (Ethiopia)
ÌFÉ (Puerto Rico)
DJ AfroQbano (Cuba/Chicago, USA)
Concord Music Hall
2047 N. Milwaukee Ave.
10 p.m. (doors open at 9 p.m.)
OLA FRESCA (Brooklyn, USA))
Chicago SummerDance–Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park
601 S. Michigan Ave.
Dance Lesson: 6–7 p.m.; Live Music: 7:30–9:30 p.m.
Alsarah & The Nubatones (Sudan/Brooklyn, USA) | J.A.S.S. Quartet (Chicago, USA)
University of Chicago Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
915 E. 60th St.
7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Nano Stern (Chile)
Fémina (Argentina)
3855 N. Lincoln Ave.
8 p.m.
ESSO Afrojam Funkbeat (Chicago, USA)
Uptown Lounge
1136 W. Lawrence Ave.
8 p.m.
Sunday, September 11
Kalapriya Presents Bhangra Blowout with with DJ and live Dhol (Chicago, USA)
Chicago SummerDance–Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park
601 S. Michigan Ave.
Dance Lesson: 4–5 p.m.; Live Music: 5–7 p.m.
Nano Stern (Chile)
Fémina (Argentina)
Goran Ivanovic (Chicago, USA)
Old Town School of Folk Music–Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall
4545 N. Lincoln Ave.
7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

Thursday, September 15
Anda Union (Inner Mongolia, China)
Chicago Cultural Center–Preston Bradley Hall
78 E. Washington St.
6 p.m.
A-WA (Yemen/Israel)
Maya Kamaty (Reunion Island)
Lincoln Hall
2424 N. Lincoln Ave
7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
UPDATE: Antibalas USA (replaces Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band )
Rocky Dawuni (Ghana/USA)
ANALOG AFRICA Soundsystem (Germany)
3730 N. Clark St.
9 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.)
Friday, September 16
Tenores di Neoneli (Sardinia, Italy)
Chicago Cultural Center–Preston Bradley Hall
78 E. Washington St.
6 p.m.
Maya Kamaty (Reunion Island) | Anda Union (Inner Mongolia, China)
3855 N. Lincoln Ave.
9 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.)
Saturday, September 17
UPDATE: Occidental Brothers USA (replaces Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band)
Herencia de Timbiquí (Colombia)
Millennium Park–Jay Pritzker Pavilion
201 E. Randolph St.
3 p.m.
Tenores di Neoneli (Sardinia, Italy)
DePaul University Concert Hall
800 W. Belden Ave.
8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.)
Sunday, September 18
A day of family-friendly activities in celebration of the International Day of Peace
11 a.m. –12:30 p.m. Instrument Making Stations at Milwaukee/Leavitt Park and Ridgeway Trailhead
12:30-2 p.m. Peace Procession to the Humboldt Overlook
2-6 p.m. Global Peace Picnic with Juicebox Concerts
Rocky Dawuni (Ghana/USA)
Herencia de Timbiquí (Colombia)
Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar, Tanzania)
Humboldt Park Boathouse
1301 N. Sacramento Ave.

Wednesday, September 21
Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar, Tanzania)
Old Town School of Folk Music–Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall
4545 N. Lincoln Ave.
8:30 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.)
Lautari (Poland)
Ensemble Surabhi (Chicago, USA)
Preston Bradley Hall at Chicago Cultural Center
Thursday, September 22
Lautari (Poland)
Daley Plaza
50 W. Washington St.
12 p.m.
Solo & Indrė (Senegal + Lithuania)
SK Kakraba (Ghana/USA)
Chicago Cultural Center–Preston Bradley Hall
78 E. Washington St.
6 p.m.
Dona Onete (Brazil)
Bossa Tres (Brazil/Chicago, USA)
The Promontory
5311 S. Lake Park Ave. W.
8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.)
Friday, September 23
Dona Onete (Brazil)
Silvia+Luciano+Neusa (Brazil/Chicago, USA)
Old Town School of Folk Music–The Gary and Laura Maurer Hall
4544 N. Lincoln Ave.
8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.)
Solo & Indrė (Senegal + Lithuania)
SK Kakraba (Ghana/USA)
The Hideout
1354 W. Wabansia Ave
10 p.m. (doors open at 9 p.m.)
Saturday, September 24
Sounds of China (China)
Ping Tom Memorial Park
300 W. 19th St.
3 p.m.
Kaynak Pipers Band (Bulgaria) | Yves Lambert Trio (Québec, Canada)
3855 N. Lincoln Ave.
8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.)
The Klezmatics (New York City, USA)
Alfonso Ponticelli & Swing Gitan (Chicago, USA)
Lincoln Hall
2424 N. Lincoln Ave
7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Sunday, September 25
Kaynak Pipers Band (Bulgaria)
Yves Lambert Trio (Quebec, Canada)
Sounds of China (China)
Chicago Cultural Center–Preston Bradley Hall
78 E. Washington St.
12–5:30 p.m.
The FREE admission World Music Festival Chicago is presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and is sponsored by the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Tribune, Metra and Millennium Garages.”
Below is our interactive We Want Music Without Borders #deelight from last year’s festival –each icon includes the link to the musicians who appeared.  Be on the lookout for the 2016 WWWMB #deelights for the World Music Festival Chicago 2016! Sign up for our newsletter. Join our 2800+member FB group;  like our FB page; Twitter

DOWNLOAD the WMFChicago 2016 Brochure below:

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Millennium Park Music Series with Genre Defying Global, Jazz, Soul and More

Updated July 21, 2016

by Gail Dee/We Want Music Without Border

The lineup for the  2016 free Millennium Park Music Series at the Pritzker Pavilion includes fabulous shows for “world” music lovers this year as well as jazz, gospel and soul. The 18 free summer shows consolidate two successful series from previous summers — Downtown Sound and Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz.   The superb lineup includes Juju world music legend King Sunny Ade; Salsa & latin jazz maestro Eddie Palmieri; Afrobeat’s Femi Kuti as well as outstanding newcomers like Kinshasa’s Mbongwana Star.  Their first release 2015 album last year was chosen by many as one of the year’s best -including me. Local bands of which we are big fans will also be appearing such as Dos Santos Anti Beat Orquesta; Makayka McCraven; Kelan Phil Cohran and Ecos del Pacifico.

This news especially warms my heart because today (March 31) marks the We Want Music Without Borders 4 year anniversary!  The Facebook group began as a  protest to the cancellation of the concert series “Music Without Borders” in 2012 . WWMWB has since morphed into a community entertainment portal with over 2700+ members focusing on live music from around the world. During 2015 I branched out as a music journalist and contributed the “Global Sounds” column for Newcity Music for several issues.  Are you signed up for our upcoming newsletter?  .

Below the complete lineup with emphasis on the artists of special interest to “music without borders” lovers. DCASE programmer David Chavez has reimagined the summer series to “feature a wider variety of genre-defying music from top local, national and international artists – both established and emerging.”  Many of the international acts are booked  on Monday as well as on Thursday nights from June thru July.  In August the series takes place only on Thursday nights. The concerts will begin at 6:30 p.m.  UPDATE: Headliner usually appears listed first BUT performs last.  ALSO new this year: Some shows are being livestreamed if artists approve.   Check links to livestream at ChicagoCultureEvents

I’m especially excited to see Mbongwana Star for the first time!  Aug 11

June 6: Blonde Redhead and Ryley Walker.

June 9: Lee Fields & The Expressions and Makaya McCraven.

“With a catalogue that ranges from James Brown-style funk to lo-fi blues and contemporary Southern soul, Lee Fields has had a successful career spanning more than 43 years. Since the late sixties, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums and has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, and many others. Paris born Makaya McCraven pushes the boundaries of sound and rhythm to create categories of his own. He layers his extensive experience with hip-hop bands, African dance bands, Hungarian folk music, and indie rock on top of a deep history of “straight-ahead” jazz, improvisation and Avant-garde beats.”

June 13:  Rodrigo Amarante and Leyla MaCalla.

“One of the masterminds behind the Brazilian band Los Hermanos and founding member of the samba super group Orquestra Imperial, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rodrigo Amarante is an inescapable musical figure in his native South American home. In 2015 he wrote the popular song “Tuyo”(Yours), which serves as the opening theme for the Netflix series “Narcos.” Leyla McCalla is a New York-born Haitian-American living in New Orleans, who sings in four languages and plays cello, tenor banjo and guitar. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty.”


UPDATE:  June 16: PHOX   (from Baraboo, Wis) and Gina Chavez.

Gina Chavez is “a bilingual Latin-folk singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas who expertly blends the sounds of the Americas with tension and grace. Her most recent album Up.Rooted has won critical acclaim from NPR, USA Today and more.  Her latest independent release, Up.Rooted, is a passionate collection of bilingual songs traversing cumbia, bossa nova, vintage pop, reggaeton, and folk combined with dynamic vocals and sharp social commentary.”

(Nneka cancelled–replaced by PHOX an alternate folk/indie pop band from Wisconsin area)

Award-winning, Nigerian singer-songwriter Nneka is known for her captivating blend of reggae, hip-hop and soul sounds. She was quickly established as one of Africa’s most powerful voices as her politically charged lyrics examine a myriad of social issues, including maternal love, heartbreak and the quest for justice. Gina Chavez is a bilingual Latin-folk singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas who expertly blends the sounds of the Americas with tension and grace. Her most recent album Up.Rooted has won critical acclaim from NPR, USA Today and more.

June 20: DJ Spooky and Kelan Phil Cohran’s Summer Solstice Ensemble.

Washington, D.C.-born Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky is a composer, multimedia artist and writer whose work immerses audiences in a blend of genres, global culture, and environmental and social issues. Rebirth of a Nation was his first large-scale multimedia performance piece, which has been performed more than 50 times in venues around the world, from the Sydney Festival to the Herod Atticus Amphitheater in Athens, Greece. Kelan Phil Cohran is a Chicago improvised jazz legend known for his contributions in the Sun Ra Arkestra in Chicago and for his involvement in the foundation of the AACM.

June 23: Maceo Parker and Marrow.

June 27: Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra and Ecos del Pacifico.

Eddie Palmieri is one of the foremost Latin jazz pianists in the world and has had a musical career that spans over 50 years. Born in the Spanish Harlem of New York City, Palmieiri has won nine Grammy awards throughout his career as a bandleader of several critically acclaimed Salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. Ecos del Pacifico is a Chicago-based group formed in 2006 by Julio Cesar Montaño Montenegro and is steeped in the Afro-Colombian music and dance traditions of the pacific coast of Colombia.

UPDATE June 30: Givers and Lower Dens. Givers indie pop group from Lafayette, Louisiana whose diverse sound stems from the improvisational and dance-fueled atmosphere of their hometown’s zydeco, cajun and jazz cultures mixed with an affection for new wave, funk and world music

July 11: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force and ProbCause.  UPDATE: Show will be livestreamed. Here is the link

Femi Kuti is a Grammy-nominated, high energy Afrobeat artist born in London and raised in Nigeria. Kuti is the eldest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and grandchild of Nigerian aristocrat, political and women’s rights activist Funmilayo Ransome Kuti

July 14: Azymuth and Sidewalk Chalk.  Update: Azymuth due to visa issues has been cancelled. In their  place “iLe” will be performing.”Since the age of 16, iLe has toured with her brothers Residente and Visitante of Calle 13 and played on five albums with them in her native Puerto Rico. Her first solo album iLevitable was released in June.



Sidewalk Chalk.

 Sidewalk Chalk is an eight-member Chicago-based band that is leading the contemporary evolution of hip-hop, soul, and jazz. The group’s unique arrangement allows them to incorporate numerous styles seamlessly: an MC and female vocalist; a trio of keys, bass, and drums; a horn section with trombone and trumpet; and a tap-dancer.

July 18: King Sunny Ade and Ugochi and A.S.E.

King Sunny Ade is the undisputed king of juju music, the dance-inspiring hybrid of western pop and traditional African music with roots in the guitar tradition of Nigeria. Ade launched his own record label in 1974 and has released more than 100 of his own recordings in Nigeria. Born in Chicago to Nigerian parents, Ugochi is an Afro-soul singer, songwriter and poet who is known for her extremely versatile and creative music and performances. She will appear with The Afro Soul Ensemble (A.S.E.).

July 21: Heritage Blues Orchestra and Toshi Reagon.

Known for their traditional blues material bolstered by a New Orleans-like horn section and a good dose of both jazz and gospel sensibilities, New York City-based Heritage Blues Orchestra has found a way to make traditional material sound fresh and new.


Toshi Reagon is a versatile singer-songwriter-guitarist from Atlanta with a unique hold-nothing-back approach to rock, blues, R&B, country, folk, spirituals and funk. Pete Seeger’s goddaughter named after his wife, Toshi and daughter of Bernice Reagon Johnson founder of Sweet Honey in The Rock and co founder of Freedom Singers –Toshi grew up surrounded by folk and blues and civil rights activism which continues to inform her music.


July 25: Jones Family Singers and Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir.

The Jones Family Singers are a Texas-based gospel powerhouse consisting of five sisters, two brothers and their father who infuse joyful and reverent songs with vintage soul, funk and R&B.

Under the direction of Brother Ray Nuckolls and Dr. Willetta Greene-Johnson, Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir includes more than 300 voices.

Aug. 1: Jose Gonzalez and Tall Heights.

Aug. 4: Sinkane and Mark de Clive-Lowe

Sinkane is solo recording artist who sings and plays numerous instruments blending krautrock, free jazz and funk rock with Sudanense pop. Although born in London, Sinkane spent his early childhood in Sudan followed by Ohio after his family fled to the United States.



Mark de Clive-Lowe is a musician, composer and producer originally from New Zealand, and now based in Los Angeles, after living for ten years in London. He is a veteran of the UK’s broken beat movement, blending jazz, electronic dance music, funk and percussion heavy world music into a unique sound.


Aug. 11: Mbongwana Star + Dos Santos Antibeat Orchestra

Mbongwana Star is a psychedelic African dance band from Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Chicago-based Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orchestra rocks the sounds of popular pan-Latin American dance genres—from cumbia to salsa.

Aug. 18: Elephant Revival and Mandolin Orange.

Aug. 25: Tortoise and Homme.

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We Want Music Without Borders #wmfchicago2016 #Deelights

by Gail Dee

Interested in sampling some of the music coming to Chicago for the World Music Festival Chicago?  Check out  our interactive image #deelights.  Each icon links to a different artist appearing at the FREE World Music Festival Chicago 2016 from Sept. 9 -Sept. 25. 60 artists from 25 countries!  More artist #deelights will be added daily until VOILA–the image contains everyone at the Festival! Below you can see the finished product from the 2015 World Music Festival Chicago!  Great way to whet your appetite for the incredible abondanza of music coming to Chicago.


The RAGAMALA (still adding to it;-)



The festival takes place at cool venues like Lincoln Hall, Martyr’s, Old Town School of Folk Music, Humboldt Park Boathouse; Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park and others. See the World Music Festival Chicago lineup and schedule here:

Join our 2800 + We Want Music Without Borders FB group for daily updates about live music.

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Twenty Years of Tunes: Brian O’Hern & the Model Citizens Play the Pritzker at Chicago Jazz Festival: “The music grooves, soloists sparkle, and the band wails!”

by Gail Dee/ We Want Music Without Borders

After twenty years of hi jinks and hangs, Chicago’s swingin’ funky big band, Brian O’Hern and the Model Citizens, hits the big time on the big Pritzker stage at Chicago Jazz Festival Friday Sept. 2 at 5 pm in Millennium Park. O’Hern throws a lot of musical curves at his versatile 14 member band. They perform O’Hern’s original and humorously quirky compositions along with arrangements for songs from Jimmy Webb and Queen to the Star Spangled Banner.   Brian says “We play straight jazz, out jazz, boogaloos, rock covers, waltzes, marches, church music, hora, bolero, rumba, calypso, corals, and anthems.”

Brian O Hern Jazz Fest Jackson Stage

As a megafan for over ten years,( full disclosure: I actually received the “honored” mega fan button) I’m hoping they get discovered by a TV executive and hired to be the house band for a talk show. The Model Citizens attack new charts with verve and old charts with mastery in monthly unrehearsed shows at the Gallery Cabaret  every 3rd Monday. The reward being beer served in frosty mugs by the most attractive female in the bar; a few bucks and lots of laughs. The band began their journey in 1996 at Martyr’s where they played their anniversary show in March. Martyr’s owner, Ray Quinn, a long time friend and fan of Brian’s music said Since Sir Georg retired, the greatest band in Chicago. Celebrate their return to Martyrs’ where it all began 20 years ago.”

Not to imply this is the first time the Model Citizens have performed at the Jazz Festival. In 2011 they played the smaller Jackson stage and many of the stellar band members such as Mike Allemana, the guitarist; Matt Ferguson, the bassist; Pat Mallinger, tenor sax; have headlined or been featured performers on the Pritzker for “Made in Chicago: Jazz” or the Chicago Jazz Festival. This year, however, will be the first time, the unassuming, eccentric and comedic composer and band leader Brian O’Hern, appears on the Millennium Park stage with his big band.

Besides Brian’s brilliant and humorous compositions, music lovers will appreciate the top notch Model Citizens musicians which are among Chicago’s best jazz musicians. Mike Allemana, Matt Ferguson (both Von Freeman’s sidemen) Pat Mallinger (Sabertooth) have been Model Citizens for 20 years. Other band members include Dave Creighton, Dan Nicholson, Anthony Bruno, Mark Hiebert, BJ Levy, BJ Cord, Scott Anderson, Raphael Crawford, Dylan Rehm, and Gerald Dowd.

Model Citizens Christmas show

Photo by Harvey Tillis

Nobody puts Brian O’Hern and the Model Citizens Big Band in a corner. Every show is a surprise even after 15 years of attending the monthly shows religiously.   Brian says “It’s not like the cookie cutter “jazz orchestras” coming out of the “college tradition.” While some of the songs have become familiar classics like “Helen’s Waltz Medley” with its’ sardonic lyrics “So put on your jazz slacks and go have a beer ’cause Andy’s is the place for Jazz” and “Frugal Tall Hag” an exhilarating instrumental groove based vaguely on a reproduction of an old WW2 big band classic “Bugle Call Rag”, Brian is always experimenting with new material. In fact, he has just released a fourth CD, tongue in cheek entitled  “We Are So Straight Ahead” .  I attribute part of my breast cancer cure many years ago to these monthly sessions of funky guitar, blaring brass and sexy soulful saxes combined with hearty laughter. Who wouldn’t feel healed at the end of night hearing “Party like a Rockstar” (not the shop boyz) morphing into a rousing rendition of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” as the band does a second line thru the narrow bar’s audience?

Educated at Berklee College of Music, Brian says he wasn’t interested at all in “big bands” until he toured with Arty Shaw and Glenn Miller bands. Brian plays the keyboards, piano, B-3 organ and accordion. (He also likes the kazoo;-))   At 49 years old, he still has a baby face and a boyish charm in front of the audience.   As well as being a serious composer, he’s also a ham and in the intimate club setting does hilariously outrageous things –like stripping down to his briefs to put on tights and a cape as perform “We Are the Champions” as a rock star. (ok–i guess you had to be there;-).

Brian OHern Dec. 2015 poster The monthly Monday nights at the intimate Gallery Cabaret are an informal affair- sort of like studio sessions. Frequently the musicians are looking at charts for the first time which they approach fearlessly. It is part of the thrill for the regular audience members to be privy to the organic process of hearing how a composition develops. They hear an original song performed and a couple months later the song may appear again—maybe the arrangement has changed or the melodic line is repeated in another song. And it’s always brings a smile to hear the band members break into song calling on the Gallery Cabaret’s owner to serve them more beer “We’re the Model Citizens and YES, we are thirsty. Kenny can we have more beer?”

Brian says, “Our shows are loose, crazy and sometimes blue in humor. But underneath all that is a tight deepness performed by the highest caliber of players. I like to make it look as though it’s all happening at random when the truth is I spend hundreds of hours preparing the charts and putting all the parts together to make the whole. So by the time the show is on I just sit back and listen. My work is pretty much done.”

Admittedly, I greeted the news of this Jazz Festival performance with a jubilant shout of glee and no small amount of smug vindication. For years I have figuratively grabbed the ears of friends and strangers with my enthusiastic “You got to come and see this crazy big band. The music is a blast!”

You can see for yourself Friday Sept. 2 at 5 pm at Millennium Park. Remember to see them in more intimate surroundings every 3rd Monday at the Gallery Cabaret.  Halloween shows are always a special musical trick or treat too! “We Are So Straight Ahead” can be purchased here . or iTunes.

Find out more about the Chicago Jazz Festival and Jazz Institute of Chicago

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