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!

Please donate to keep We Want Music Without Borders alive and well. Researching and writing all this takes many hours of work each week and it’s created all by one person.


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