Black, Brown and White Get Down in July Chicago

by  Gail Dee 

As the founder of WWMWB my unstated goal is to tie our black, brown, white neighborhoods together digitally.  In order to be effective I also reach out to build relationships in real time. Sometimes it’s a mean task  however meeting the people who make the music is always worth the effort.  Mind you, I’m an older white woman driving an old 96 Buick Rivera with disabled plates.   The car like me has needed new suspension for over a year. (See my yelps for helps below!)  Driving thru Humboldt Park last year to see Bomba con Buya (Puerto Rican traditional music)  I discovered potholes are a barometer of city services as my car, by attrition, became a low rider as I hit speed bumps and the holes compared to the far NW side.   When I attended the African Festival of the Arts fundraiser in 2015 I was surprised there was only of a handful of white people attending the event. 

 Chicago is segregated by more than it’s vast size and geographical boundaries and history. Lack of cultural news coverage is a media censorship and insidious means of separation. Ignorance is bliss. The lie of omission.  We as a nation became more conscious of it during the Presidential campaign –media focusing it’s attention totally on Trump and little on Blacklivesmatter or Bernie Sanders. When I first started WWMWB in 2012 I was shocked to learn  the Chosen Few Picnic a huge House music Festival which draws thousands every holiday weekend to Jackson Park had been taking place for over a decade.  Admittedly I didn’t follow house music much–still  nothing?  Unfortunately FB bubbles perpetuates this kind of “segregation” too.

Why am I waxing on about this subject?  July 7 – 9 is what I’m calling  “black, brown and white get down”. Memorials to Kelan Phil Cohran on the South side; Ruido Fest in Pilsen; Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square and Irish Fest on the far NW side are some of the cultural events are taking place in the neighborhoods. Taste of Chicago and Chicago Summerdance attempts to appeal to everyone downtown with house music on the weekend as well as Orquesta de Macabeo from Puerto Rico Saturday night June 8. 

WWMWB shares  all these events with the hope we break out of our  comfort zones and take an adventure and explore our own city. 

Sat and Sun is a celebration of the life of  Kelan Phil Cohran on the South side. The  jazz pioneer; cofounder of the AACM;  member of Sun Ra; father to the members of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and mentor to many died recently. Family and friends, colleagues and admirers will be joining together for his  “A Celebration of Life for Kelan Phil Cohran”  on Sat July 8 at 11 am -4 pm at  4100 S. King Drive at the Metropolitan Apostolic Church.  Sadly foretelling the near future, a retrospective to honor him  “On the Beach at 63rd Street” was already organized to take place on Sunday July 9 before he died.  Organizers are still going ahead with it. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is expected to perform; AACM members and many more.  Free admission and kid friendly. 

Of course the Mexican -Latino-Hispanic experience is getting much attention in the city.   Ruido Fest the Latin-alt festival answer to Riot Fest marks it’s 3rd year  with big headliners like Molotov; Bomba Estero (Colombia) and dozens of others. 3 day tickets now $149?–single day tickets $49 & up and it opens today in Pilsen.  Thursday July 6 “Sabor de Chicago” was  touted by DCASE as a “first”  at the Taste of Chicago with legendary  Mexican rockers Cafe Tavaba and it was extremely popular.  I was a bit  bemused as it being the “first” since I delightfully recall seeing the legendary Chicano rockers  Los Lobos play  in the Petrillo in 2010 at the Taste of Chicago when Petrillo concerts were free and unticketed. Then I realized  “Sabor de Chicago ” included included Chef demonstrations as well as Tango and Mexican dance performances and other music performances like Los Vicios de Papa at the other stage.  

 WWMWB avidly supports public art being free and  accessible to everyone.  To fill that appetite  at the Taste of Chicago is  Stomping Grounds with 15 different dance companies from performing all weekend from Mexican Folkloric; Flamenco with Ensemble Espanol; African with Ayodele and Muntu; Indian with Kalapriya and Natya to tap with Chicago Human Rhythm Project  and Bud Lite stage is free.  Sunday #deelight choices are the crazy attics of marching band Environmental Encroachment; Greg Ward II saxophone is returning from the North Coast Jazz Festival; as well as  Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Muntu Dance.  

 Don’t miss the upcoming  July 13 Thursday performance at  Millennium Park Summer Music Series presenting  Totó La Momposina. The Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winner is considered the “Grande Dame of Cumbia, Bullerengue and Colombian Folklore.” 

 She will also be at the upcoming Colombian Fest AL Parque which takes place July 15 & 16 now in a green space at Kelyvn Park 4438 W. Wrightwood with a bounty of superb music for only $10 a day for adults!.  The Colombian Fest is highly recommended by We Want Music Without Borders. 




On the North side Square Roots Festival, a true local music, craft beer and food festival in Lincoln Square presented by Old Town School of Folk Music and Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber Of Commerce. If you are a fan of world music you’ll see it’s a pale imitation compared to  prior years of the festival  since this year the bulk of the programming is folk, indie rock; roots rock, country; alt country and country music with nods to international music on one stage mostly in the evening.   This is not a criticism –it’s an observation.  Old Town School of Folk Music continues to be the major presenter of music from around the world in Chicago–making it accessible thru out most of the year on Wednesday nights as well as other concerts and there is still an international artist to enjoy each evening.

For Square Roots,  WWMWB music lovers can circle Friday July 7 Dominican Republic’s  Joan Soriano; Saturday night Colombia’s Explosion Negra.  Explosion Negra is also be doing a jam session earlier.  Recommend both of those shows. Explosion Negra will also be performing at the Colombian Fest Al Parque the following weekend.   Prior to Explosion Negra is local Latin ska band Los Vicios De Papa returning to home of “sorts” after playing Taste of Chicago Petrillo and Bud Lite!   Reggae band Gullibanque closes Maurer Hall on Saturday.  Sunday evening    “Femina” Argentina’s all girl band is followed by Los Texmaniacs.   OTSFM  also busy programming this summer some local musicians  at Navy Pier and with an outreach program called “Soundtracks to the City” with many free events taking place on the South and West side.  On Sunday “Soundtrack” focuses on folk music at Square Roots.

Also on July 13 OTSFM presents An Intimate Evening with Eva Ayllon -a Peruvian legend. This is an extraordinary opportunity to see her and it’s another Don’t Miss show.  (One tip to remember is  Toto La Momposina is also appearing at Colombian Fest is you want to catch both of these legends since they are performing on the same night.)  Tickets

 Pilsen Fest is also sponsoring Femina at Simone’s on Saturday night. and tonight:  Friday July 7 the De Pachanga en el Museo to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the National Museum of Mexican Art with DJ and label ((Sonorama)).

The Puerto Rican community is well represented this weekend as well with Barrio  Festival at it’s National Museum of Puerto Rican Art





 Segundo Reis Belvis Community Center presents with an acoustic show with IFE direct from Puerto Rico on Sunday evening  (suggested donation $10 altho free with RSVP) and Orquesta de Macabeo appearing  tomorrow night at Chicago Summerdance July 8. Free. Both IFE and Orquesta de Macabeo are recommended #deelights. 

On the Far Northwest side is the Irish American Heritage “Irish Fest” July 7-9

If you just want to chill under the stars on the lawn= there is Star Wars at Millennium Park tonight Friday and Saturday July 7 & 8 with Grant Park Orchestra.

Like what you see?  Here’s the yelp for help!

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Colombian Fest Al Parque July 15 & July 16 Kelvyn Park Chicago

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by Gail Dee CHICAGO’S COLOMBIAN FEST AL PARQUE moves to Kelyvn Park (4438 W. Wrightwood) for 2017 with a blockbuster lineup of music. New this year, Carnival attractions including rides, games and a Kid’s zone to guarantee family fun!  Sizzling … Continue reading

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World Music Festival Chicago 2017 Highlights Announced

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Updated by Gail Dee July 2 with video and additional information 19th ANNUAL WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL CHICAGO ANNOUNCES HIGHLIGHT PERFORMANCES OF DIVERSE INTERNATIONAL MUSICIANS CELEBRATING THE RICH CULTURAL DIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 8–24 Headliners and highlights include Salif Keita, an all-night … Continue reading

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Thank You For Your Strong Support & Generous Donation

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by Gail Dee updated June 30 Due to illness & computer equipment challenges– I’m several weeks  behind publicly thanking some  special people. Please forgive me.  You’ll find some interactive images –containing links to information about them. Today the focus is … Continue reading

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

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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 … Continue reading

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Millennium Park Summer Music Series 2017

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by Gail Dee Updated June 18, 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 … Continue reading

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FIESTA COLOMBIANA DE CHICAGO AL PARQUE  JULIO 15 & 16 FIESTA COLOMBIANA DE CHICAGO AL PARQUE se traslada a Kelyvn Park (4438 W. Wrightwood) para 2017 con una exitosa programación de música. Nuevo este año, atracciones de Carnaval incluyendo paseos, … Continue reading

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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 longer 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 includes musicians who play Son Jarocho as well 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 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.  Cumbia originally an Afro Colombian music genre found great popularity in Mexico. Celso Pina famous for his fusion with other styles of 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’s one of the best of Chicago trumpet players with both Mexican traditional music and jazz.  He just recently performed and was praised by jazz critic Howard Reich as part of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra performance in celebration of Dizzy Gillespie. I remember seeing him in the remarkable entrance he made with Sones de Mexico in their 20th anniversary Millennium Park show.   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. Chico is originally from Chicago–and is the legendary Von Freeman’s son.  The entire weekend of shows will be great — 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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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***
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*
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*
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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