Lovin’ LIVE Music! 2015 Deelightful Moments

by Gail Dee

We Want Music Without Borders celebrates 2015 by sharing some of the best  “live” music moments enjoyed in the past year from Samba to Brass Bands to Morocan Gnawa. It is not complete–can’t get to everything all the time. What were your memorable 2015 concerts and shows? Please add your own in comments or email us your video.  And be part of  another story with YOUR memorable moments.

Also a reminder: It is vital for us to continue to show our love in 2016 with our feet and our wallets for the music we love i. e. “world” music and “music without borders”.  Remember to invite your friends, family and neighbors to share the musical adventures.  We can’t take it for granted it will always happen. For example, Sound Culture is not producing shows for the winter months until Carnival in Feb. Other venues  such as Martyr’s; City Winery; Promontory have not been booking much world music. Between money and visa “issues” venues and producers need to know the audiences will be there to enjoy the artists.    Old Town School of Folk Music is the only  venue in Chicago regularly presenting live music from around the world. Be sure to give them your support when you can and keeping checking here to know about what is coming up in 2016 too!


Tinariwen and Billy Branch at Old Town School of Folk Music.    Desert Blues from Mali meets Chicago Blues harmonica master Billy Branch in an impromptu collaboration at the end of the Tinariwen show. This superb video was shot by Dominque Rowland (a.k.a. MCZulu) my guest for the evening–who recognized something special was happening.  Definitely one of those completely fortuitous moments. Weren’t we lucky?

Brazilian transplant- singer, songwriter and superb guitarist Luciano Antonio makes Chicago his home.  This clip  at Old Town School of Music in February 2015 of his CD release was an intimate evening of tropicalia and samba.


TAL NATIONAL from Niger part of the  World Music Festival Chicago 2015 at Mayne Stage was just wild!!  See for yourself.


Chicago’s FUNKADESI 20th Anniversary show at Mayne Stage  Dec. 2015 was a hit! The drummers joined the audience 3 times on the dance floor with their pounding rhythms. This was the final song on stage.

This clip by Lisa Rodriguez captures Brian Keigher/DJ Warp on stage with them too:-)


From Colombia TRIBU BAHARU! This champeta band was HOT! This was the band’s U.S. premiere performance at the Colombian Fest/El Gran Festival Colombiano July 2015.  In January they will be appearing at NYC’s globalFEST Jan 18, 2016.  Yep–we ain’t no second city –(and mark your calendars for next year’s El Gran Festival Colombiano July 16 and 17, 2016 ) This festival offered some of the best music of the year.  Also outstanding was Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto.


Celebrate Clark Street World Music Festival in July was one fabulous weekend of music curated by David Chavez/Sound CultureNovalima from Peru and Systema Solar from Columbia were just 2 of the standouts of two days of music.

Systema Solar from Colombia

In studio live of Novalima:


The legendary Cuban band LOS VAN VAN at Thalia Hall in August 2015.  This clip was from the beginning of the show and the audience was already crazy in love with them!


An especially sweet opening for the L. Subramaniam concert ( Indian master violinist) part of the World Music Festival Chicago2015. His granddaughter singing for her first time in Chicago. He asked us to be kind to her.  Our hearts melted. 


Morrocan Aziz Sahmaoui and the University of Gnawa from  World Music Festival Chicago Sept. 2015 at Old Town School of Music.  He also gave a couple workshops that were a true delight. Here is a full encore they performed that night!

And just found this jewel also from a workshop Aziz did at Old Town School of Folk Music.   The song a cross collaboration with Michael Miles. It’s as sweet as it’s name “Pretty Neighbor”

Rotations: Ho Etsu Taiko and ON Ensemble” This amazing local taiko ensemble brought in L.A’s ON Ensemble and explored more than just taiko at World Music Wednesday at Old Town School of Folk Music.


From Slumdog Millionaire to the Auditorium theater–legendary Indian Bollywood Songwriter/ Composer/ Instrumentalist A. R. Rahman  in  May 2015.  I was ecstatic to win a pair of tickets to see him live and I wasn’t disappointed.  Colorful, vibrant and discovery of new creative music interface!

Rahman also loves using technology –here he is demonstrating an interface to make music attached to their arms!

The Chuy Garcia Fundraiser at Alhambra with entrance by Funkadesi.  Fundraiser also included great performance by Billy Branch with Sones de Mexico; Azteca Five Hundred and more.


Sabertooth Organ Quartet-The After Hours Jazz Party -the Saturday night jazz house band at the Green Mill for the past 23 years from midnight to 5 am.  I’m a long time friend and fan and was happy to be at the club the night NPR’s Jazz Night in America recorded their show in the summer.  It was presented syndicated nationally this fall on the radio and in this video.

Parisian Cuban twin sisters IBEYI at Thalia Hall in Sept. I recommended  this show in a preview for Newcity in September and didn’t regret a word I wrote.  I said ” An air of sensual mystery, communion with spirits and ghosts pervades their vocals, even while contemporary rhythms drive it.” See more at: http://music.newcity.com/2015/09/21/preview-ibeyithalia-hall/#sthash.TP46paDa.dpuf . Songline, NPR and several websites chose “Ibeyi” as one of 2015 BEST albums of the year and I wholeheartedly concur and include a video of an entire live show below.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble at Space –the bad boys of brass from the South side are all brothers. Doing “Jupiter” their mother joined them for a song for a few minutes.

They also had a sold out show last January with De La Soul.

Also included in my list of great moments is the Hothouse presentation of legendary Thomas Mapfumo from Zimbawe; Sylvia Hevia’s presentation of Mexican songstress Edna Vazquez; Nigeria’s Seun Kuti at Promontory;  Zap Mama at Park West;  Brian O’Hern and the Model Citizens monthly shows at the Gallery Cabaret,  Buena Vista Social Club at Ravinia, Chicago Sinfonietta’s Celebration of  Martin Luther King; Dos Santos Anti -Beat Orqesta; Bossa Tres; Bomba Con Buya; Sones de Mexico with Billy Branch; Sones de Mexico live score of Viva Mexico and the Southport Records Post Jazz Jam and La Santa Cecilia at Martyr’s and the amazing discovery of the Pyeong-taek Nongak: Korean Drumming and Dance Show in Aug at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts are a few more deserving a mention as well as the movie “Tango Negro.”

Happy New Year!  See you on the flip side:-)

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