World Music Festival Chicago 2017 Highlights

 by Gail Dee


The  19th Annual World Music Festival Chicago celebrates diverse music from across the globe. The festival is free and open to the public. It is produced by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and is the largest festival of its kind in the United States.   Even though it is in it’s  19th year –many people in Chicago don’t know about it!  Please share the Festival  with your friends, family and neighbors.

 Highlights of the 2017 festival include headliners Salif Keita, the all night Ragamala: A Celebration of Indian Classical Music,  SEUN KUTI , from  Venezuela  BETSAYDA  MACHADO  is not to be missed as well an opening-weekend collaboration with Chicago SummerDance in Grant Park, concerts in Millennium ParkReva + David Logan Center for the Arts, DePaul University Concert Hall , Martyr’s, Concord Music Hall, Thalia Hall and Promontory as well as  other  venues throughout the city .  Disappointingly  this year, Old Town School of  Folk Music is NOT a venue -although it continues to be the major institution providing this genre of music in Chicago.

Some other changes this year to note if you are a World Music Festival fan :   Please be aware it may be first come first served for all shows. We were informed by a curator he did not believe any reserved ticketing for any venue.  Also although the length of the Festival has been expanded–the number of shows taking place on any given night is much less–sometimes only one event for the evening (Thursday Sept. 14 is an exception and a couple other nights)   This means more people for each show.  To assure you are admitted-get to the venues early!

Another major change is that the exciting open house finale at the Chicago Cultural Center “One World Under One Roof” has been eliminated.   A huge disappointment for community building since it brought together people of all ages ,ethnicity,  race etc together under one roof.  Yes, it was chaotic at times and yes, not everyone could fit in the auditorium- or under the sumptuous Tiffany Dome-however the upside of that kind of mess was meeting people and excitement.    Many times people met at various events or at least “saw” faces –at the One World Under One Roof it was a welcoming way to exchange numbers and say hello and good bye!  In this era of political upheaval and attacks on diversity and inclusion –bringing community together for a farewell til next year would have been welcomed.  Hopefully the curators will revisit this decision for next year.  The 606 party and Global Peace Picnic in Humboldt Park on Sunday Sept. 17 will be a great day of performances however doesn’t fill the gap left by cancelling “One World Under One Roof” .  A bad weather day can cancel it.

Here are some highlights of the Festival.  Check back to We Want Music Without Borders for more updates as the Festival progresses. 

On the first night of the festival, Friday, September 8, the all-night Ragamala: A Celebration of Indian Classical Music starts at 6:30 p.m. under the Tiffany stained glass dome of Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.). A tradition in India, the all-night classical concerts are rarely held publicly in the United States. Visitors have the rare opportunity to hear the ragas (traditional scales or modes) during the early morning and late night hours as they were meant to be played. The all-night concert features more than 8 musical groups and artists.
Ragamala highlights include Priya Venkatraman & Troupe – The stories of “Ahimsa: Non-Violence” with music by Shiv Subramaniam. Dancer and choreographer Priya Venkatraman is one of the premier contemporary practitioners in the ancient art of Bharatanatyam, one of the most important and oldest classical dance traditions of India. Legendary tabla artist, Anindo Chatterjee will perform a tabla duet with his son, Anubrata Chatterjee. Anindo Chatterjee, a student of Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh, is widely regarded as one of the greatest, living tabla practitioners. Alam Khan and Ambi Subramaniam will perform their first-ever jugalbandhi together (Carnatic + Hindustani collaboration) as they pay tribute to the legendary jugalbandhi collaboration between their respective, iconic fathers, the late Ali Akbar Khan and Dr. L. Subramaniam, nearly 25 years ago.  At dawn  enjoy the rising star on the sitar Roopa Panesar from the UK with extraordinary tabla and percussionist.
On Saturday, September 9Salif Keita will perform at the Concord Music Hall (2047 N. Milwaukee) at 8 p.m. Salif Kieta is known as “the Golden Voice of Africa,” and is one of the  greatest singers to emerge from modern Mali. He has towered as one of the most dominant stars of world music since launching a solo career in 1982 and has long been a pioneer of experimenting with various pop hybrids to reach a larger audience but without ever abandoning his deep footing in Mande tradition.
World Music Festival Chicago will also feature special performances and dancing at Chicago SummerDance in Grant Park (601 S. Michigan) at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park.
On Friday, September 8 the New York’s Underground System will bring their classic Afrobeat and explosive live show at 7:30 p.m. preceded by dance lessons from the African Diaspora with Kimosha P. Murphy.
On Saturday, September 96–9:30 p.m. the Argentine Tango will be the dance of choice with live music at 7:30 p.m. with Duo Scofano-Minetti and dance lessons at 6 p.m. with the American Tango InstituteSunday, September 104–7 p.m. live Cajun music from Feufollet and Cajun two-step and waltz lessons by Louie Stallone + Monica Vachlon.
Millennium Park will also host two special concerts. On Saturday, September 9 at 3 p.m.World Music Festival Chicago will debut the world premiere of the Bharath Symphony, a stunning new orchestral epic composed by the brilliant Indian classical violinist L. Subramaniam. The project was commissioned by the DCASE specifically for the festival and it promises not only to be a highlight for 2017 but a classic for years to come—it has already been programmed later in in the year by London’s influential Barbican Centre with the London Symphony Orchestra.
On Saturday, September 16, Venezualan artist Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo will perform at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park at 3 p.m.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED  DO NOT MISS THS SHOW .–The powerhouse singer Betsayda Machado brings the sound of Afro-Venezuelan culture to Chicago this year, introducing a rich, polyrhythmic sound as soulful as it is irresistible. She will perform with La Parranda El Clavo, a living link to the area’s musical heritage that’s been active for more than three decades. She launched her career with them back in the late 80s and the group performs songs about saints, dancing, slavery and the hard lives of the cocoa-plantation workers who originally sang parranda.  (WWMWB note: Luciano Antonio Quartet will be opening for this concert!)
On Saturday, September 16, to commemorate Mexican Independence Day, World Music Festival Chicago will present the critically-acclaimed Mariachi Flor de Toloache from New York and Los Hijos de la Montaña at Thalia Hall (1807 S. Allport) at 9 p.m. On Saturday, September 23, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival featuring Nicole Mitchell and Ballake Sissoko will perform two shows at the University of Chicago Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th Street) at3 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.
Also on September 23FELABRATION! featuring  SEUN KUTI –Fela’s dynamic  son channeling both his Dad’s and his own fiery in your face politics of the people.  and   Bitori of Cape Verde, AFRICA HI-FI, a unique musical tribute to Africa created by DJ/Producer Ron Trent + Sonia Hassan that fuses music and social consciousness with art and dance and a very special headliner to be announced at a later date. The performance will take place at the Concord Music Hall (2047 N. Milwaukee Ave.) at 8 p.m.
On Sunday, September 17The 606 Walk + Global Peace Picnic at the Humboldt Park Boathouse (1301 N. Sacramento Avenue) from 2-6 p.m. is a day of family-friendly activities that include instrument making, a peace procession and more. Highlights also include performances by: La Tribu de Abrante, a bomba group from Puerto Rico led by Hiram Abrante, offering flavors of salsa, energy of reggaeton with horn stoked jams and energetic vocals; Nigerian singer and guitarist Mdou Moctar and Veneualan artist Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo.

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World Music Festival Chicago 2017 Highlights

               We Want Music Without Borders You Tube Channel Playlist for the World Music Festival  
***NOTE – all bands are listed as follows unless otherwise noted HEADLINER with the OPENER(S) listed underneath – headliners on top. If on the same line, artists have been given equal billing.
Friday, September 8
Underground System (NYC)

Chicago SummerDance – Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park
601 South Michigan Avenue
Dance Lesson: 6-7 p.m.
Live Music: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Friday, September 8 – Saturday, September 9
Ragamala: A Celebration of Indian Classical Music + Dance
Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall
78 E. Washington Street, 3rd Floor
6:30 p.m.-10 a.m.
Saturday, September 9
Bharath Symphony – 70th Anniversary of India’s Independence
Millennium Park
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
201 E. Randolph Street
3 p.m.
*Premiere + Commissioned for World Music Festival Chicago
Duo Scofano-Minetti (Argentina)
Chicago SummerDance – Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park
601 South Michigan Avenue
Dance Lesson: 6-7 p.m.
Live Music: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Salif Keita (Mali)
Grand Tapestry (LA, USA)
Concord Music Hall
2047 N. Milwaukee Ave.
7 p.m. doors open, 8 p.m. show
Sunday, September 10
Feufollet (Lafayette, LA)
Chicago SummerDance – Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park
601 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605
Dance Lesson: 4-5 p.m.
Live Music: 5-7 p.m.

“Women of the World” at Navy Pier

Underground System

Underground System (NYC)

Ecos del Pacifico Afrocolombia (Colombia)

lePercolateur (Chicago, USA)

Navy Pier 600 E. Grand Ave

3-6pm All Ages

Saturday, September 16
Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo (Venezuela)
Luciano Antonio Quartet (Brazil| Chicago, USA)

Millennium Park
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
201 E. Randolph Street
3 p.m.
Mariachi Flor de Toloache (NYC)
Los Hijos De La Montaña (Tucson, Arizona + Portland, OR)
Thalia Hall
1807 S Allport
8 p.m. doors open, 9 p.m. show
Sunday, September 17
The 606 Walk + Global Peace Picnic with Juicebox Concerts
September 17
Humboldt Park Boathouse
1301 N. Sacramento Avenue
2-6 p.m.
Schedule of Activities and Performers
  • 11-12:30 p.m. Instrument Making at Milwaukee/Leavitt Park and Ridgeway Trailhead
  • 12:30-2 p.m. Peace Procession to the Humboldt Overlook
  • 2-6 p.m.  Global Peace Picnic @ Humboldt Park Boathouse, 1301 N. Sacramento Ave
Artists Performing
  • La Tribu de Abrante (Puerto Rico)
  • Mdou Moctar (Niger)
  • Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo (Venezuela)
Saturday, September 23
Hyde Park Jazz Festival
Nicole Mitchell & Ballake Sissoko: Bamako * Chicago Sound System (USA + Mali)
University of Chicago Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
915 E. 60th Street
3-4 p.m. and 5:45-6:45 p.m
Bitori (Cape Verde)
Africa HI-FI (Chicago, USA)
Concord Music Hall
2047 N. Milwaukee Ave.
7 p.m. doors open, 8 p.m. show
Originally published June 30 with updates on July 2 and revisions Sept. 7, 2017

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