Got Brazilian?

Queen of Samba contest was a festive celebration of Brazilian culture in Chicago

Who would’ve thought a Chicago’s  cold Winter night could transform into a hot Brazilian summer evening? That is how it felt like at Logan Square Auditorium during the Chicago Samba’s Queen of Samba contest.  Chicago Samba is  a Midwest-based music ensemble that has been performing  the authentic sounds of Brazil mixed with the flavor of “Carnaval” for more than 21 years.   They are also the organizers of the only Queen of Samba contest in Chicago, an event that brings Brazilians and non-Brazilians together.

Some of the band members also come from non-Brazilian backgrounds. The keyboard player, for example, is from Uzbekistan, and the trumpet player is from the South Side of Chicago. His name is Ben Lamar and he  grew up listening to Marvin Gaye, Bossa Nova and Tom Jobim. Here he is giving us his best smile:

Ben moved to Rio de Janeiro for three years. When he first got there he could not speak any Portuguese and was afraid, but he was able to connect with people through his music. He naturally felt at ease in a culture that was attractive to him because it reminded him of old traditions that were common in America before capitalism took over. For example, Brazilians  fix things if they break instead of getting rid of them; they also go to small Mom and Pops neighborhood stores instead of big and impersonal supermarket chains, and they have musical instruments at home, the way it used to be here before the advent of the Television era. This allowed room for creativity, connection, and for sharing one’s family musical heritage. He suggests that when going to Brazil or any country in Latin America “forget about speaking languages, that just causes confusion, but connect with the soul, language is the last thing you worry about” he says. “I can transfer my good energy without even talking to you”. And certainly, his good energy and of the Chicago Samba ensemble was felt the whole night.

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Edilson Lima was an enthusiastic cheerleader throughout  the event. His energetic dance lead from the stage and from the dance floor, along with Chicago’s samba festive music, had everybody dancing non-stop. It definitely felt as if we were in the middle of a Carnival celebration. But the queen of the night was undoubtedly  the Queen of Samba contest. A group of beautiful ladies faced the judges and the  crowd to  show their love for Samba. The winner of the contest was Panamanian Karlies Kelley, who was crowned Queen of Samba and given the grand prize of $250. The second place was awarded to a Brazilian, Ludgy Cunha, who was named Princess of Samba and given a second price of $150. Our friends from Chicagoano, a website that covers all things Brazilian in Chicago, were also present at this event and shared their videos for this post. In this one you can see the current Queen of Samba Karlies Kelly performing (she is the first one appearing on the video):

After the contest, the party continued with a grand finale performed by dancers dressed in spectacular Carnival costumes. Chicago Samba’s Edilson Lima called Christina Trumbauch and Pierre Cameron from Folia Tropicalia Dance Group, to share the stage and dance with them:

This was an evening that definitely had an enthusiastic atmosphere, and it was a great way to start the Carnival festivities in Chicago. If you want to experience this by yourself, then go to one of the two Carnival celebrations that will take place on February 18, or why not go to both?  Click on the links below for more information about these events:

Chicago Samba

Swing Brasileiro and Folia Tropicalia

Feliz Carnaval Galera!

Look who I found….

….at the Andersonville Midsommarfest. This is an annual Summer festival located in the Andersonville neighborhood on Clark Street , between Foster and Catalpa, in which vendors from around the region sell their wares to passers-by while ethnic dance troupes and cutting-edge bands keep the party going. There is a significant number of Middle-Eastern businesses in this neighborhood, as well as a new influx of families with children, and a large lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender population. I came to the Festival to see the local Brazilian band  Chicago Samba perform. They gave a very entertaining show thanks to the dancers dressed in colorful and flashy outfits, but they paled in comparison to the outfit of this passer-by:

I took this picture during the performance of the 80s music band 16 Candles (who were a great discovery for me. Except for a few songs, their music selection and rendition was very engaging). Andersonville Midsommarfest is a definitely a good option to see great local bands perform and for seeing interesting outfits and beautiful men (who, unfortunately for me, happen to be gay. My friend said that she had never seen so many beautiful men in one place). By the way, this reminds me that I have to mark my calendar for the Chicago Gay Pride Parade on Sunday June 26 . I attended this parade a few years ago and had a great time. Let the fun begin: Summer in Chicago is just starting!

This weekend: Chicago’s Blues Festival and more

The Chicago Blues Festival and CUBE: Chicago Underground Blues Experience

The Chicago Blues Festival, the largest free blues festival in the world and  the largest of Chicago’s Music Festivals is in full swing right now. The local Blues dance community is organizing an event called CUBE: Chicago Underground Blues Experience 2011 in which they serve as guides to all the best our fine city has to offer in live music, local blues joints, evening dances and all-out fun. More information at and

2710 N. Milwaukee Ave. 10pm-3am
Join Aguzate & Sound Culture on Fridays and Saturdays as they remix the world!
They’ll be hanging out and playing the best in Afro Latin, Tropical Bass, Global beats and International grooves in the heart of Logan Square.
D’Noche is an intimate lounge that serves up cocktails and pan-latin cuisine. (Kitchen is open until 11 pm). Patio is open.Free Parking in the Rear.
See menu and drink selection: 
No Cover, Drink Specials, Friends, Family, and Global Grooves.

Sonic Diaspora at Butterfly Social Club

722 W Grand Chicago 9pm-3am

On the second Saturdays of each month, Brotha Onaci and guest selectahs play the best music of Africa and the African Diaspora, including Afrobeat, High Life, Soukous, Afro-House, Afro-Latin, and much more. This month DJs AfroQbano, Sherwin O and David Nallah Marques will be holding down rhythmic sets to keep you dancing all night long. No Cover

Red Rat (Jamaican Dance Hall Reggae)

Cubby Bear (1059 W Addison St. Chicago) $10-20

Also featuring Chicagos own “Kofi” & DJ Slacky J

Andersonville Midsommarfest 

Clark St. betwen Foster and Balmoral)
Midsommarfest is one of Chicago’s most unique street fairs. Born out of Andersonville’s Swedish heritage, Midsommarfest retains its quaint, international flavor. Old-world Swedish traditions, including a festive dance around the Maypole, are incorporated into an unrivaled array of entertainment for families and adults. Click here for the list of world music performances at this fest, which include Funkadesi , Chicago Afrobeat Project, and Chicago Samba

Chiara Mangiamelli Ensemble
“A spectacular ensemble! Captivating and inspiring… With every move, Chiara Mangiameli brings vitality to the stage. Her performance was spectacular in every regard – from the circle of her wrist to her rhythmic footwork, Ms. Mangiameli captivated every member of our audience!”- Christina Salerno, Director for Salt Creek Ballet.
Uncommon Ground on Devon 9.30pm $15
1401 W. Devon Ave, Chicago

Balkan Sounds Party

DJ Romasoul(Balkan beats via Chicago house) and DJ MG (“Turkish remix master”), two of the most famous Deejays of Balkan origin in the Greater Chicago area are coming together at the Stone Lotus downstairs lounge for one of the most attractive summer kick-off parties of the year.
Stone Lotus 10pm password “balkan” $5 before 11, and $10 thereafter.
873 N. Orleans Street, Chicago

Latin and World music tonight at  ñ

The people at  ñ invite us to another wonderful musical evening with Mauro Frosio trio ( old world music and tango ) and DJ Charrua ( Electronic and Latin beats )They promise a  great atmosphere, authentic Latin food and exotic cocktails along with great Latin music that includes salsa, bachata, merengue, mambo, cumbia and electronic music. No cover

Show starts at 9pm, party until 2am.

West African, Flamenco and Samba for today

Good morning! My picks for today are:

LunchBreak – Music Without Borders: L’Orchestre Super Vitesse

Modern West African Dance Orchestra

Randolph Cafe :: 78 E. Washington St.
12:15 PM
Modern West African Dance Orchestra L’Orchestre Super Vitesse performs a free lunchtime concert as part of the Music Without Borders Friday series.

LunchBreak’s Music Without Borders Friday concerts feature music styles from around the world. 

Ottmar Liebert + Luna Negra

Old Town School of Folk Music at 4544 N Lincoln Ave Chicago

$30 General Public/$28 Old Town School Members/$26 Seniors & Children

Ottmar Liebert composes, performs and records music in a “nouveau flamenco” style, which mixes elements of flamenco with jazz, bossa nova and other genres. Ottmar Liebert’s music can be difficult to categorize, which is welcomed by the artist himself. It is usually placed in the new age section at record stores, or under world music from Spain. He has recorded with his band, Luna Negra, since 1990. Liebert describes Luna Negra as a “rubber band” — it changes with the seasons, members are always coming in or out.

Alfonso Ponticelli FLAMENCO PROJECT

9pm. Doors open at 7:30 pm

$15 (buy your tickets here)

Mayne Stage, Chicago
Pansequito, Alfonso Ponticelli on guitars
Gil Alexander on percussion
Rami Gabriel on oud and guitar
Tony Ballog on violin
Cristina Dominguez Gutierrez on castanets and dance

Chicago adored gypsy jazz artist Alfonso Ponticelli returns to Mayne Stage showcasing his Flamenco Project. Alfonso will feature very special guest Pansequito, a famed Flamenco singer from Spain, percussionists and Flamenco dancers. Alfonso Ponticelli introduced Chicago to gypsy jazz in the 1990s with inspiration from Django Reinhardt, pioneer virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer. Alfonso is a multi-instrumentalist, who has played banjo and guitar with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and has studied abroad with the great gypsy flamenco guitarist Rafael Riqueni.

Also El Payo performs!

Brazilian Tropical Night


Logan Square Auditorium

2539 North Kedzie
Chicago, Illinois
Micareta style dance evening by the Chicago Samba Group.
– Age Limit: 18 and older to enter – Must be 21 or older to drink alcohol.
– Admission fee at the door: $10.00 after 8:30pm.
– Event’s Time: Doors open at 9:00pm it closes at 2:00am, show starts at 10:00pm
– Samba dance lesson.
– Carnaval costume parade by: Samba One Dance Group. Carnaval costumes from 2011’s Brazilian carnival…
– Brazilian Food by Sinha Elegant Cuisine will be available during the event for a separate charge…
– Brazilian drinks, Caipirinha special $5.00
– Directions: By train, Blue Line at Logan Square Station Click here.
– Parking: Street parking, or park in the parking in lot behind the Band Popular.
– Salsa, merengue, bachata, regaton and other styles will be played during the band’s breaks.
For more information: