If you still have not gone to any of the free Chicago World Music Fest concerts, you should definitely do it soon. I went to see Dehli 2 Dublin, this Canadian band that mixes Bhangra and Celtic music, and it was quite energizing and unique. I mean, where have you seen an Asian dude wearing a kilt and playing the sitar? Check some of their performance here:
Tonight I am checking out Slavic Soul Party, a BalkanSoulGypsyFunk Brass band from New York. and tomorrow I will see Magic Carpet, a local band that blends Jazz, Reggae, and Funk with the traditions of Africa, the Middle East, and India. I saw these cats at SummerDance Fest a few weeks ago and I can tell you that you run the risk to get hypnotized with their music:
Note aside: I want to pay homage to the people of Chicago, who can be fearless and strong supporters of music and dance. I went to Millennium Park for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra‘s Carmina Burana concert last Friday, thinking that very few people would attend due to the rainy weather. To my surprise, the place was packed! We stood in the rain for the duration of what was an epic concert.
In addition to overcome uncomfortable weather conditions, some of us are fearless enough to express our passion for dance and music in unorthodox ways. I saw some of that happening at Chicago SummerDance Fest during Magic Carpet’s concert. This free outdoors festival allows Chicagoans from all backgrounds and ages to get together and dance. Gotta love the power of music and dance to break any kind of barriers!
So in case you fancy to join me, these are my recommendations for tonight and tomorrow (I also accept suggestions, so post a comment with your favorite bands or pics/videos of the festival):
It was too hot in Chicago last night, specially at Millennium Park. People got together to see Malian bluesman Sidi Touré and Chilean rapper Anita Tijoux perform. The show was so reminiscent of the beloved and now gone Music Without Borders series that some people in the audience screamed “We want Music Without Borders!”at some point during the show. Yes, the place was definitely hot. Those of us who endured the high temperatures got rewarded with a big chunk of talent coming from Africa and Latin America. If you were not able to go, do not worry, I have prepared some videos for you.
Here is Sidi Touré giving a great performance of Malian Blues:
And here is “hermanita” (little sis) Anita Tijoux (that is how she called me when we briefly exchange words her after the show…how sweet!), touching hearts with her music and words:
I was able to have a longer conversation with Cristobal, Anita’s guitar player (the conversation was held in Spanish because Cristobal does not speak much English). He talks about Ana Tijoux – the person, the musician, and her message – and why he thinks Chicago is a special city due to its rich cultural activity. He also says that, according to what he has heard, cultural activity in Chicago is not as strong as before.
Talking to some people who came to the show, I encountered some who knew nothing about Ana Tijoux. Dietrich Gray from Pilsen, for instance, never heard about her. However, he was able to connect with her music and message. He noticed the calm and stillness in her presentation, and stated that it is something not common to observe in live performances of other rappers, who tend to be very physical or try to get attention by getting in people’s faces. When he saw her perform he thought to himself “Oh my God, whatever she is saying must be absolutely enough to carry the message she is spreading. She doesn’t need to paint it with body movements or physicality in order to pound it in our heads. Whatever she is saying must be significant.” Others like the activists of #YoSoy132 (a civil movement in Mexico that demands the democratization of media and the rejection of the mediatic imposition of the virtual winner of the Presidental elections of 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto), came to see Anita Tijoux because of her connection with social movements in Chile and abroad. In fact, her song Shock, is dedicated to the Chilean student movement . A new video of the same song has been recently released to support the rights of immigrants in Arizona.
It was definitely a night full of great world music, diversity, and social consciousness. I hope we get to see more of these world music nights at Millennium Park in the future.