March Musical Madness: Exotic Adventures


Do you want to be transported faraway? We Want Music Without Border turns to the special shows coming to Chicago offering exotic listening adventures for this week’s musical deelights.   HIGHLY RECOMMENDED are ALASH on March 14 and THE NILE PROJECT on  March 15 both at Old Town School of Folk Music. We also recommend Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano and The Persian Concert by the Middle East Music Ensemble on Sunday March 8. (The first installment of “March  Madness” Springtime Deelights  focused on the fresh  female voices of  La Santa Cecilia March 13; Banda Magda March 19 and Ibeyi on March 29. )

Tuvan  singers and musicians, ALASH, the nomadic tribesmen from the Central Asia  are masters at Tuvan throat singing where multiple tones are produced by one singer at the same time.  For me, Alash’s  music is more melodic than other Tuvan groups such as  Huun Huur Tu and Yat Kha. They have incorporated some contemporary influences so makes it more accessible to the Western ear without losing any traditional authenticity. The strange atonal strings and sweet whistling sound and deep gutteral growl are mesmerizing; lifted joyfully with harmony; punctuated with engaging rhythms and dramatic percussion. Their musical portraits are stunning.  We easily visualize them riding on their sturdy ponies across the mountains. The Tuvan high pitched other worldly singing/whistling imitating  the wind in their ears as they sit astride their horses singing about women, drinking and horses (not necessarily in that order).  They have performed in Chicago several times before including being chosen in 2013 for the Musicology series that was taped live at Old Town School by WYCC.

THE NILE PROJECT -is a don’t miss for music without borders fans. This inspiring collaborative project follows the Nile River to  bring together composers & musicians from several  countries in East Africa such as Egypt, Sudan, Ethopia,and  Uganda. They apear  Sunday March 15 at Old Town School of Folk Music.   “The project began in 2011 by two San Francisco-based East Africans in response to the deepening water conflict in the Nile Basin. In a few years, the vision of Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero rapidly expanded to bring together musicians of all 11 Nile countries through Nile Gatherings and African and international tours.” (For this show 7 countries will be represented ) “Music is a language,” exclaims Ethiopian sax player and Nile Project musician Jorga Mesfin, “and in the Nile Project, the conversation is about love.” The love of craft, of place, of the river that connects eleven countries and millions of people.”  More to come in depth on this amazing project and concert. Listen to the music and an interview below.

Sunday afternoon– March 8 Chicago happily welcomes the return of Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano to the Harris theater. The pioneering, magnetic leader Nati Cano transformed the  Mariachi from a group of musicians playing cantinas to being an art form applauded in concerts halls like Carnegie Hall. Sadly he passed away in Oct. 2014 but his vision to continue the tradition lives. This concert for example is sponsored by the Mariachi Heritage Foundation whose mission is to teach Mariachi music to Chicago Public School students. 150 students will open the first song with LA’s premiere Mariachi band. The tribute show and  hour long video below is both informative and entertaining. Tickets still available  at

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