Chicago’s World of Musicians – Bomba Con Buya

by Gail Dee/We Want Music Without Borders

Chicago’s World of Musicians” is a new series of stories about Chicago musicians whose music is influenced by other cultures from around world. We’ll learn about the music they love to play; their backgrounds; struggles; and successes. The series opens with upcoming show previews  for December.
This piece is cut from a longer article “Chicago’s World of Musicians Spice Up Winter”.
Tis the Season. In the winter, world music touring artists from overseas are almost as difficult to find performing in Chicago as the missing surveillance tape footage from Burger King during the shooting of Laquan Mcdonald.

Fortunately music lovers can still enjoy live shows from outstanding Mexican, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Indian musicians and others who call Chicago home.  December is a good time to catch Chicago stalwarts like Sones de Mexico, Chicago Samba and Funkadesi.  Bomba con Buya, Chinchano, Radio Free Honduras, Dos Santos Anti Beat Orquesta and Esso Afrojam Funkbeat are rising stars on the Chicago scene with live performances this month.

Saturday Dec. 5. is literally crammed with great shows. Treat yourself to as much as possible.  After this weekend, with a few exceptions, live shows of this kind of music dwindle to a dribble for the rest  of December and much of January.

One of the We Want Music Without Borders Recommended shows for Dec. 5 include Bomba Con Buya at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Center.


Bomba Con Salon
BOMBA de SALON” with Bomba Con Buya at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Center 4048 W. Armitage Chicago at Dec. 5 at  7:30 pm features Bomba con Buya and SRBCC’s Arawak’Opia Youth Bomba Ensemble as hosts in the first in a series of “Bailes de Bomba” (Bomba Dances) celebrating the Puerto Rican tradition of couples’ dancing from the south of the island. Bomba is the oldest surviving traditional Afro based music and dance form of Puerto Rico. The focal point is the challenge and connection between the dancer and the drummer.  The dancer actually suggests/or leads the drummer in contrast to other forms of dance.  In this show they will be  presenting a varied repertoire of new and classic Afro-Puerto Rican songs, rhythms and dance styles. The singer also is involved in a sort of chant or call and response typical of other African styles of music.

You might remember Buya from the wildly entertaining viral video of them playing on the Blue Line last year. This fall Buya also collaborated on a social commentary video   “Candela”. The video’s theme is systemic racial injustice and political protest.

Buya means ‘good spirit’ in Taino, an indigenous language of the island.    Bomba Con Buya is about 6 years old however most of the band members have been playing together for over 20 years. In fact, it’s a bit of a family affair.  The passion for Bomba runs in the blood.  The co directors are Roberto Perez and Teo Lopez.  Ivelisse Diaz, the lead singer is Teo’s sister and their aunt and uncle were instrumental in bringing Bomba to Chicago 30 years ago.  Lauren Brooks, Jonathon Pacheco, Arif Smith, Angel Fuentes round out the current active members of Buya. 

Buya aims to both entertain and educate the public. To paraphrase singer Ivelisse Diaz, “Puerto Ricans don’t readily appreciate Bomba which represents the oldest  African influence in Puerto Rican music.”  Buya wants to bring attention to those contributions and preserve Bomba.  FYI :This situation is also true in many other Central and South American countries.

Buya also tours and takes their music to unexpected places.  For example on 4th of July 2015,  Bomba con Buya and Jarochicanos Chicago (a Pilsen Son Jarocho group) engaged in a partnership and went to Veracruz, Mexico -(the birthplace of Son Jarocho)–to do workshops and perform together.  Once again the common element in these seemingly disparate music forms is the African connection which began through the spread of slavery.

If you want a good time–check out Bomba con Buya below .$10 suggested donation at the door (no one turned away–end time around 10:30 pm or later) More here:

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Gail Dee is the creator of We Want Music Without Borders and a freelance journalist whose columns have appeared in;  Newcity music and other website and publications.

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