Video of Dance Flashmob at Novalima Concert in Chicago

We did it again! Our dance flashmob during Novalima’s concert at Clark Street Wold Music Festival  was a lot of fun and here is the video to prove it. Thanks to everyone who participated, and specially to Milagros Guerrero Ormeño, lead singer of the Peruvian dance band, Novalima, for being our accomplice!

Do you have any ideas for another flashmob? Leave your comment here. We want to hear it!

Come to our Rumba Reggae Party tomorrow and help the Afro-Peruvian children of El Guayabo

Underground Wonderbar
710 N. Clark St., Chicago, Illinois 60654

Saturday November 17

Chicago Urbanite, Chicago’s top blog promoting world music and dance, invites you to come celebrate and be grateful with us! Live music by NuBambu, the hottest rumba-reggae band in Chicago. Cover includes access to all of Underground Wonderbar stages.

Also, we will be filming footage for Nu Bambu’s Music Video and we want YOU to be in it. Come out with your dance moves and support the band’s video. It will be FUN!

DJ Rebolu will throwing down world music

Free giveaways.

50% OFF beautiful Jewelry by Monsieur Pamplemousse. We will also raffle a gorgeous necklace valued at $162!


We will be collecting donations for Christmas events that will benefit children from Lima and the Afro-Peruvian community of El Guayabo, Chincha (see pics here). Here is a video of these beautiful children dancing and playing their own music:

Cover: $10

50% off to Chicago Urbanite followers who RSVP here (click on “Join”) before 3pm on Nov 17

(Must follow this blog/ like our Facebook page and RSVP to get discount)

Cover includes access to all of Underground Wonderbar stages. After our show, stay for Lonie Walker & her Big Bad Ass Company Band show. Also DJ MWELWA , FLX, and Kino will have their Global Late Nite from 11pm to 5am

Free World Music Fest, Carmina Burana, Villapalooza and more!

Summer must be over but events in Chicago are still heating up! 

Here are my picks for this weekend:

Chicago World Music Fest

September 21-27

Multiple locations

The awaited World Music Fest is starting tomorrow and runs until September 27. We are very excited about this year’s version because it will be the first time that all performances are free. This year’s festival also has a marked preference for showcasing local world music bands. This is the largest and longest running festival of international music in the US. Click here to see the full schedule and participating venues.


Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs Carmina Burana at Millennium Park

Friday September 21st at 6:30pm

In September 2010, Riccardo Muti launched his tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with an unforgettable concert in Millennium Park. With an audience of 25,000, this monumental “Concert for Chicago” was praised for its thrilling physical impact, elegance and staggering power by the Chicago Tribune. This fall, Muti and the CSO return to Millennium Park to perform Carl Orff’s choral blockbuster, Carmina Burana. Don’t miss what is sure to be another landmark in CSO and Chicago history. You can find more information about this event here


Saturday, September 22nd starting at 12:00pm  

3724 W. 26th St.

Presented by the SurCul Collective, a group of community organizers and educators, Villapalooza is an all-day outdoor music festival based in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, and back for its second year on September 22.

Among this year’s musical acts will be my band NuBambu and electro-cumbia giants Cumbia Machin from San Diego, CA, local favorites MalafachaSangre MichoacanaSchemeSin OrdenPopulation, and Vicios De Papa.

$5 suggested donation gets you access to all three stages and a full day of great music! 

Click here for full schedule

Join us at a live world music show tomorrow at 9 pm!

I will be co-hosting a live world music radio show tomorrow (September 11) at 9pm. Our guest is Black Bear Combo, a Chicago brass/reed band whose sound is a raucous mutt channeling the common energy between traditional music from eastern Europe and the Balkans, punk rock, and free jazz. 

If you are in Logan Square or Wicker Park tune us in at 1710 am (T.R.I.B.E.S. Radio). The rest of the world can watch us online at this link:

Help us get the Music Without Border Series reinstated

The city of Chicago is canceling the international music series “Music Without Borders” that is held every summer in Millennium Park. This great world music series offers a unique cultural experience and a summer highlight for many because it exposes thousands of Chicagoans and visitors to wonderful music and cultures from around the world. Discontinuing the program would represent a huge loss for Chicago and a setback for the goal of being known as a city that has the very best in arts, creativity, and innovation.

Chicagoans need  this kind of programming to foster Chicago’s reputation as a global cultural destination and as a city that promotes inclusion and appreciation for cultural diversity. The “Music Without Borders” series brings people from diverse ethnic populations and ages together to joyfully celebrate and learn about the beauty of cultural diversity.

These concerts also encourage pride in the city,  as well as intercultural integration. In the city of Chicago, which was recently cited as being the most segregated city in the nation , “Music Without Borders” provides a space for interaction between different cultural groups in the public sphere and encourages a positive attitude towards diversity and integration.  Watch the video below to understand the spirit that the Music Without Borders created and the love for Chicago that it infused in people attending these concerts:

It would be great to have some of our tax dollars dedicated to support international music programs that promote inclusion and intercultural integration. Music Without Borders gives Chicago a visibility as a  world-class destination,  bringing visitors to the city, benefiting business, and helping achieve Mayor Emmanuel’s goal of getting 50 million visitors by 2020. We hope the city of Chicago considers reinstating Music Without Borders to strengthen Chicago’s reputation as a global cultural destination.

I started a petition to get Music Without Borders reinstated. If you are interested in supporting this cause,  please click here to sign the petition , share this post, and leave a comment here.



One of the most exciting up and coming city blogs – Chicago Urbanite – celebrates 1 year in the traditional Chicago style with music, dance, food and fun. And to top it all off, Chicago Latino TV will be covering the event, so be ready to smile for the camera!
Join us in positiveness tonight, Saturday March 24 starting at 9pm, so we can finally meet each other and form a stronger community bond.



Complimentary delicious Peruvian appetizers, courtesy of our sponsor MACHU PICCHU RESTAURANT

10-11 PM
Dance Performances by:

YAASHA ABRAHAM, who will do a demonstration of Brazilian and Ethiopian dance. She is the Director of Education & Youth Outreach, Choreographer, and Artist Coordinator for Passistas Dance Group, named the best Brazilian dance group by Chicago’s Brazilian community.

KID JUNGLE, the artistic director of the urban dance troupe, “Thee Authentic Fewsion” or “T.A.F”. He will be doing a demonstration of hip hop/breakdance. Jungle spreads the knowledge and education of positive Hip Hop culture as well as other cultures through workshops and performances. He and his dance crew were chosen to represent the city of Chicago at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo

POPPIN’ CHUCK, who will do a demonstration of Poppin’ and Lockin’. He is an instructor, choreographer, and performer for Thee Authentic Fewsion.

11 PM
Live music by:

NUBAMBU, a Chicago Urban Fusion band whose sounds are as diverse as its cross-cultural musicians. They will get us to dance with their unique and highly contagious danceable Latin-Reggae rhythms. Their influences range from all different corners of the world and blend together in an original Chicago style urban fusion sound. The band members are from France, Venezuela, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the United States, and Peru. Their music is multilingual, street-smart and cutting-edge lyrics with a twist that fuse together different styles. Get a taste of Nubambu on our YouTube commercial here

SUGGESTED DONATION to keep the vibe going and more events to come: $5

1902 W. Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60613
Silvie’s Lounge is conveniently located one block away from the Irving Park Brown Line Stop

DRINK SPECIALS:Jack and Coke $4, Smirnoff and Soda $4, Lemon Drops $4, Yeager Bombs $5, Beer Specials $3.

Do you want to see who is going? Then RSVP here

                                          FOLLOW US ON:

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When the Desert meets the Blues: Tinariwen in Concert

What do you get when you mix electric guitars with the sound of indigenous Touareg music made by guitar poets and soul rebels from the Sahara desert? The answer is Tinariwen, a band that was founded in the 1980s by nomadic Touareg musicians/rebel fighters from the Southern Sahara Desert in Mali. Yes, at one point in their lives, some of the band members used firearms to defend their people, but these days they use guitars to express their aspirations, and they do it superbly. The band stopped by in Chicago last Friday for a live performance at Metro and to promote their fifth album titled Tassili. A musician friend of mine told me about their music and how great they were, so I knew they were going to be good, but I did not expect them to be amazing.These guys are super talented. Friday concert was my first encounter with their music but it certainly won’t be the last: I am hooked.

The guys from Tinariwen took the stage wearing clothes “à la Touareg”: loose-fitting robes and except for Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, the lead guitar and founder of the band, they had veils covering their heads and hair, some even with their faces covered. Tinariwen means “the Deserts” in Tamashek (the language of the Touareg), and like their name, their music has some of the qualities associated with a dessert: it is mysterious, hypnotic, undulating, inviting you to fall into a trance-like state. Their psychedelic sound is dominated by electric guitar and bass playing mixed with traditional percussion instruments. Some people call it Desert Blues. For their new album though, they opted for acoustic sounds, so an acoustic guitar was also part of the mix. The guitars played a preponderant role during the concert, but the bass and the percussion players stole the show at many points. Those guys are monsters! Complementing the talent of the guitar, bass, and percussion players was the singing in Tamashek that felt at times like mantras for meditation, and the undulating dance movements of one of the band members. His movements reminded me of the movements of the sand dunes in a desert. The crowd (including myself) could not help but fall under their spell.

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The use of modern electric guitars to play traditional Tuareg music along with their enormous talent are probably the reasons why Tinariwen’s music resonates so well with Western audiences. But seeing them perform live, I can also say that part of their success is due to how well they connect with their audience during live shows.The way they do it is elegant. The band members established musical dialogues with each other and with the audience so effortlessly and smoothly, that it gave the impression that they were jamming among friends instead of being on stage. This was coolness at its best.   And people responded to this. The crowd that came to see them at Metro was very enthusiastic. I saw a young woman moving frenetically to the rhythm of their music throughout the entire concert. On the other side of the theater, and probably two generations apart, an older lady in her sixties was stomping and screaming, asking for the band to do a third encore, which they generously did. There was also a three-year old boy being carried by her young dad saying enthusiastically: Tinariwen is playing! The band has definitely crossed generational and cultural barriers with their music.

This was the second time they performed in Chicago this year, and after attending their concert this last Friday, I can understand why they would come two times the same year: it is a love relationship. The crowd fed the band with an incredible energy, and in return, they played three encores and shouted “I love Chicago!” in various occasions during the show. For those of you who have not had the pleasure to hear their music, you should fix that a.s.a.p. Here is a sample of it:

Me gustas tu, Manu Chao

An electrifying energy was felt last night at Congress Theater. The reason? Franco-Spanish world musician Manu Chao performed in Chicago as part of his US Tour titled “La Ventura”. “La Ventura” has several meanings in Spanish. It could mean happiness, luck, fortune, risk or danger. The combination of all these meanings sums up very well what many felt at Manu’s concert: an overwhelming feeling of happiness for having the good fortune of being there at the risk of ending up hyperventilated after 2 hours of non-stop jumping and screaming. It was a dangerous but very lucky affair being at the Congress last night.

The house was full for Manu, and the crowd that came to see him was – like his lyrics – diverse and multilingual.  A big Mexican flag dominated the sea of people located in front of the stage, which was acknowledged by the singer in multiple occasions by screaming “Viva la Raza!”( which literally means “long live the race,” a phrase used mostly by Mexicans to show pride in their race).  But not only Mexicans attended the concert . The place was packed with people from Central and South America, Europe, and of course, the United States. This was a very receptive audience who got turned on very easily by anything that Manu played, which was a continuous output of reggae and ska rhythms. The connection between the singer and the crowd was intensely ecstatic, and together they created an unforgettable show of pure raw energy.

Wearing his trademark green hat, Manu faced the audience “descamisado” (shirtless), maybe because he knew it was going to get really hot or maybe because he was subliminally expressing his identification with the poor and underprivileged which are the theme of many of his songs such as “Clandestino”. The stage also followed this theme: it did not have big screens, special props or flashing lights. It was very simple, showing just Manu, his band members, and the musical instruments. But he did not need anything else to turn the crowd into its frenetic state.Manu was a passionate performer throughout the two hours of his show, pounding the mic against his bare chest, making monkey noises, screaming “You are crazy Chicago!” and letting fans get on the stage with him. The audience became a mirror of the man. One local musician mentioned that before coming to the show he had felt depressed, but after attending the concert he felt pumped up and ready to roll. Another audience member said that “the show felt like it was always ending,” because on four occasions the band left the stage only to return and do encores, making the crowd go crazier and only deepen its euphoric trance.

Manu Chao’s concert in Chicago proved to be entertaining and highly energetic. It also showed that  there is no need to have an expensive production to  have a successful concert. Instead, it is important to know how to connect with the audience. And Manu certainly knows how to do it. He made the audience  feel as an active participant of the show: he was the lead singer and them his back-up singers and dancers. He made them love him. As his song goes, everyone who attended this concert can joyfully say:  Me gustas tu, Manu Chao!



La Ventura Tour

La Ventura Tour

Photos by Mark Hetzel

The Afrodiaspora of Susana Baca

A delightful musical journey through the diaspora of the African community in the Americas was experienced last Saturday evening at Susana Baca’s concert at Mayne Stage. The celebrated Afro-Peruvian music singer came to Chicago to present her latest album titled Afrodiaspora. This album celebrates the African presence in the Americas through a compilation of songs that go from New Orleans to Peru. This compilation is the result of Susana’s numerous trips to different parts of this continent. During these trips, she found that the music of these countries had something in common: the sound of African rhythms.A barefooted Susana in a long flowing white dress took the stage and got our entire attention with her soft movements and ethereal voice. She was the perfect guide to embark us on this musical journey in time and space. What a wonderful journey we had! We heard from Colombian Cumbia, to Flamenco mixed with Tango and Panalivio, and Funk from New Orleans mixed with Peruvian Festejo. My favorite song from this album is Yana Runa, a beautiful mix of Afro Peruvian and Andean rhythms. Susana, as a good travel guide, took the time to explain the story behind each of the songs she interpreted. She explained, for example, that the song titled Ay mi Palomita (which actually belongs to a previous album), is a song that the Black Slaves and Peruvian Indians used to sing during the sugar cane harvest in the Northern Coast Region of Peru.Susana has recently been named the Minister of Culture of Peru. She is the first Afro-Peruvian woman appointed to that post. Fernando Hoyle, her tour manager, says that she is trying to be “una ministra cantante” (a singer minister), and hopefully keep touring while she is fulfilling her government duties. I hope she is able to do it. Susana radiates so much light and soul during her live performances that I never get tired to go to her concerts. It is always a pleasure to see her perform. If you have not had the chance to see her live, here is a sample of her performance at Mayne Stage:
To listen to the songs of Susana Baca’s new album Afrodiaspora, and to buy the CD, visit

The Gipsy Kings Experience at Ravinia


An enthusiastic crowd welcomed the Gipsy Kings last Thursday at Ravinia, a place that has become their second home in Chicago. Although the concert felt somewhat short, they pleased the audience by playing many of their popular songs such as Djobi Djoba, Un Amor, A Tu Vera, Caramelo, Volare and Bamboleo. The Kings also played some songs with a strong Latino influence such as Samba Samba, Sabroso, and the solo of cajon and congas. The highlight of the show happened at the end of the concert, when the band allowed the ladies in the audience to get on the stage and dance with them. Many of these ladies were dancing around them seductively. The Kings, as good professionals, were able to keep playing without missing a single beat.


Chicago was the last city of their American Tour this year. Fortunately, it was a  perfect evening to close the tour with an outdoors concert. The lawn at Ravinia was packed with fans from around the world. Walking through it,  you could hear a multitude of foreign languages being spoken. One of the people sitting at the lawn was Natasha Boyderman, who came to Ravinia from Sauganash, a neighborhood located in the Northwest side of Chicago. In her group alone there were people from Cuba, China, Chile, Germany, Italy,Macedonia, Mexico,  Russia, Syria, and the United States. Natasha mentioned that she likes the diversity of people that go to Ravinia to see the Gipsy Kings. She considers that it is very important for Chicago and for all ethnic groups to gather together in one place and that a Gipsy Kings concert is the perfect opportunity for this to happen. “Diversity – she stated-  is definitely what makes us unified and stronger”.


After the concert, I was able to talk to a charming Andre Reyes, who plays the guitar and does back up vocals in the band. Andre told me that he loves Chicago food and that he enjoys the atmosphere and the crowd at  Ravinia.  He also explained that the band is a family affair. They are all cousins from two related gypsy families with roots in Barcelona, Spain: the Reyes and the Balliardos. The cousins met by chance at Montpellier, France, more than two decades ago.  After jamming together on that occasion, they decided to start the group. Despite being so famous, Andre is a very approachable artist. Nicolas Reyes, his brother and the lead singer of the band, has the same charismatic demeanor. Maybe this is part of the secret for their sustained success. The Gipsy Kings are still going strong and are able to move our souls (and feet) with their wonderful music.

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