Chicago’s World of Musicians Spice Up Our Winter

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.

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.

Several  artists in these bands emigrated to Chicago and continue to proudly play the music of their native culture, while others adopt American jazz, blues and rock n roll into their repertoire.  Interestingly many Chicago artists (both homegrown and first generation residents) find themselves touring in the winter to places like China, Switzerland, Poland and South Africa and…North Dakota. We’ll be highlighting those artists and their tours in the series as well.

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.

Recommended shows for Dec. 5 include the CIMMFEST fundraiser with Sones de Mexico; Queen of Samba Dance Contest with Chicago Samba; Bomba Con Buya at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Center and Juan Pastor’s Chinchano Album Release both Friday Dec. 4 and Sat. Dec. 5 at the Green Mill.   Other intriguing shows on Dec. 5 include Radio Free Honduras with Low Down Brass Band at the Hideout and Tierras Rojas at California Clipper.


Cimmfest Fundraiser

CIMMFEST ANNUAL HOLIDAY FUNDRAISER WITH SONES DE MEXICO is doing an encore performance of their compelling original live score to Sergei Eisenstein’s ¡Viva Mexico! at Music Box Theater 3733 N. Southport Ave, Chicago, Il. Dec. 5. Although Sones de Mexico is in the process of becoming a  Chicago institution, it doesn’t rest on it’s reputation.  In the last couple years they have developed new projects to continue their goal of keeping traditional Mexican “son” alive. Creating a live score to this classic silent film is one example.   The sextet formed over 20 years ago in 1994 -many of the group originally from Mexico. The folkloric group, led by enthnomusicologist Juan Dies explores the many forms of “Son” a genre encompassing the roots of mariachi music and other regional styles, including huapango, gustos, chilenas, son jarocho, and more. You will see that demonstrated as Lorena Iñiguez, Juan Rivera, Zacbé Pichardo, Gonzalo Cordova and newest member Eric Hines play the live score as the description explains,”Sergei Eisenstein uses dramatic elements of surrealism and expressionism to document the history of Mexico’s peasant uprising and the Mexican Revolution of 1910 that inspired Russia’s own revolution in 1917. The scenes span different regions of Mexico including Oaxaca and Chiapas. Sones de México Ensemble will perform this film score live using regional folk music from those areas.”

Chicago International Music and Movie Festival ( CIMMFEST ) has grown from a ’boutique” festival to a major Chicago cultural event in the past 8 years offering a staggering array of music films  as well as live concert programming. For example, in 2015 this We Want Music Without Borders fan enjoyed seeing not only the premiere performance of the Sones de Mexico amazing live score; but also a crazy classical Indian/Bollywood live score mashup to a Buster Keaton silent film; a live concert of Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars and a film about hip hop in North Africa and other developing countries.   Next year the festival takes place April 14-17, 2016.

Saturday Dec. 5 you can support CIMMFEST in one or two ways. Enjoy cocktails and appetizers at the  VIP Cocktail Party from 5 pm to 7:30 pm followed by the Sones de Mexico performance. Tickets $100.  In the alternative you can attend the performance of the live score at 7:30 pm for $15 in advance. Tickets here:


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:


QUEEN OF SAMBA DANCE CONTEST. The annual Queen of Samba Dance Contest hosted by Chicago Samba is always fun. For only $15 admission (Tickets here) it’s the closest thing to Rio on the frugal traveler’s budget. Chicago Samba, led by Mo Acyr, has entertained audiences with popular Brazilian music for over 25 years. I recall the thrill the first time I heard the bateria of Chicago Samba burst into playing the “Batucada” at the Hothouse 20 years ago. Batucada is a style of Samba with the emphasis on African based percussion played by a “bateria” (battery) of drums. I had only heard it on a record before and was overjoyed to dance Samba to a live band! In my recollection at the time, they were the ONLY band in town who played the “Batucada”. Although Chicago Samba plays many styles of popular Brazilian music–tonight in particular -they will be accompanying the ladies dance contest with the Batucada. Members of the band tonight include Ben Lamar on Trumpet; Phil Gomez on keys, Jo Raymond on bass, and a bunch of great percussionists: Chris Fabick, Matt Korajczyk, Heitor Garcia, Tommaso Moretti. A Special guest is singer Dill Costa with Dance lesson by Edilson Lima; Carnaval Costumes by Samba One and Brazilian Food by Sinhá.from 10 pm to 2:30 am at Logan Square Auditorium. Here’s a video from the 2014 year contest to get you in the mood for beautiful women competing to win the title of Queen of Samba.  Logan Square Auditorium 2539 N. Kedzie, Chicago, IL.

The Brazilan Cultural Center of Chicago and Gingarte Capoeira Chicago invite Brazilians and friends of Brazil to celebrate The National Samba Day on December 5, 2015 from 12:30 to 4:30 at their “Feijoada de Brazil” Tickets $15. Pagode Group – John Beard and Friends; Samba Workshop with Dill Costa; Capoeira Demonstration with Gingarte Capoeira Chicago



Friday Dec. 4 and Dec. 5 is the album release of “Un Cambio” by Juan Pastor’s Chinchano at the Green Mill 4802 N. Broadway Chicago, Il.  Juan Pastor studied Afro Peruvian percussion in Peru before moving to study jazz at NIU . In just a handful of years, he has emerged as an outstanding  percussionist and bandleader. He describes his band Chinchano as a ” modern instrumental jazz group that fuses the traditional North American jazz harmonic palette with exciting rhythmic concepts drawn from Central and South America.”  He’s already performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival and Jazz Institute’s Next Gen Jazz series and been praised by audiences and music critics alike.  He’ll be playing with an extremely talented band Marquis Hill on trumpet; Stu Mindleman on piano, Patrick Mulcahy – bass, on sax Greg Ward (Friday) Rich Moore (Sat.) I expect the room to explode with listening pleasure for these sets.  He plays the cajon (which originated in Peru with African slaves) with incredible finess as well as traps.  Definitely not your usual Latin jazz.


Two more shows worth mentioning on Dec. 5:

Radio Free Honduras in a double bill  with Lowdown Brass Band at the Hideout

Tierra Rojas led by Emiliano and Jesus Rojas with Bill MacKay at California Clipper at 10pm. $4 cover. More on to come on both these bands later in the “Chicago’s World of Musicians” series.

Join our We Want Music Without Borders facebook group for daily updates on live music in Chicago and beyond. Here:

Sign up for email for special discount offer on tickets to shows and occasional newsletter.

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.



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s