DIY Not-to-be-Missed World Music Fest 2016 Experience

The annual world music-avaganza is upon our city again, and our end-of-the-summer blues will be tempered by gorgeous weather and the promise of several weeks of international music from around the globe at dozens of venues indoor and out.

There’s really no going wrong with the 18th edition of the World Music Festival, it’s expertly curated by our colleagues at Chicago Cultural Center Special Affairs, Carlos Tortolero, Jr and David Chavez. And, for the first time ever, the descriptions of the artists are available in English and in español.

True, a lot of global music may not be what you choose to surround yourself in your life; it may never fill your I-devices for personal listening pleasure. But what a treat to see these ensembles live, to share for a moment in the human joy of music-making and experience a culture’s perspective through the music its people create!

So, keep ears and heart open to the sounds that will fill our city for the next few weeks! Here’s a few tips to create your very own not-to-be-missed experience of our World Music Festival:

Wish you could do a sleepover at the gorgeous Chicago Cultural Center?  Ragamala is an all-night Classical Indian music event that you can bring your PJ’s and pillows too, because it goes overnight. If you can’t make it through the 12 hours of stellar concerts: Come around sunrise and watch the largest Tiffany dome in the world in Preston Bradley Hall light up with the day’s first sunrays, and you’ll also have fabulous view of our glowing-in-the-dawn Bean in Millennium Park.

Ragamala will feature a set by Anjna Swaminathan and Rajna Swaminathan, amongst others:

There’s some cool 21st C folk music available, too, if activist singer-songwriters are your jam. Nano Stern, from Chile, has a charming, fierce stage persona and is poised to take the lead in the Nueva Nueva Cancion of Latin America, alongside other activist musicians such as Anita Tijoux.

It’s wonderful to see some ensembles led by just powerful mujeres. Awa, three charismatic sisters from Israel – Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim, who grew up in a village bordering Egypt sing ancient Arabic-flavored tunes with a punk flair, and spit out in tight 3-part harmony tinged with reggae and hip hop.



And Femina, 2 sisters and a childhood friend from a small town in Patagonia, Argentina, take acoustic-folky Argentinean tunes rooted in folk chacareras and give them them rrriooot girl treatment. Both these bands’ live shows are known to be spectacular.



Wanna dance? Take your pick – go tropical (Adonis Puentes and Voice of Cuba Orchestra) or for a wonderful fresh take on Cuban-Neoyorquino-Tropi Grooves, Jose Conde and Ola Fresca will keep you on the dance floor for hours.


Or if reggae’s your preference, Ghana’s Rocky Dawuni is a delightful performer, and his activist grooves keep your mind thinking while your body is moving.



Prefer to trance? Musical of lyrical beauty is created by an unusual collaboration between Senegalese kora player Solo Cissokho and Indrė Jurgelevičiūtė, a Lithuanian kankés virtuoso. Here’s a video featuring Indre in another of her collaborations.


And in its own category practically, we are definitely looking forward to Otura Mun and ÌFÉ’s Orisha-Yoruban-rumba-dancehall with a beautiful spiritual force behind it!



There’s so much more! So if you can’t decide, just grab the schedule and go when you can. We promise you will not be disappointed.


Check Catalina’s weekly show and podcast Beat Latino!