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One World, One Week of Difference

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 16, 2005 11:25AM

WorldMusic.gifFor some Chicagoans, today’s World Music Festival Chicago 2005 kickoff validates our town's role as ambassador of global culture. For many more of us, this week will serve as an introduction to a glut of inventive musical stylings prompting a pledge to continue broadening our musical horizons. The most adventurous music fans can see dozens of performers from five continents at venues spanning every corner of Chicago.

If you'd like a low-risk introduction, check out a few of the free shows: the Cultural Center’s lunchtime and after work sets and Thursday night Open House, a noon Daley Center show, Saturday's Rogers Park World Music Fest, Sunday afternoon at Clarke House or Humboldt Park’s gorgeous veranda, the series at Navy Pier (wander around the Pier until you find it), a Monday night Empty Bottle show, Borders’ concert series, and Afrofolk Live at the majestic South Shore Cultural Center. Free shows can range from a 15 minute appetite whetting to an hour plus feast. Know also that "world music" applies to traditional African percussion as much as to experimental Eurasian/American cross pollinations. If you're undaunted by this variety, head to a City building or WMF venue and pick up a slick WMF 2005 "Passport", complete with band summaries and links to sound clips (most of which actually work).

Selected band profiles after the jump.

Sambarabalouf blends Django Reinhardt’s Gypsy jazz alternately with swing, rock, polka, and Arabic music. Romantic enough for the French, rocking enough for the Red Blooded Americans.
Saturday, 12pm @ Rogers Park World Music Fest
Sunday, 9pm @ HotHouse

Nouvelle Vague is a kitschy French lounge band covering rock classics. And we can't help loving them for that.
Saturday, 10pm @ Schubas
Sunday, 9pm @ HotHouse

golemparty.gifDepending on who you talk to, Golem is either the wackiest wedding band ever or the most badass klezmer band ever. Immensely flexible, they’ll shift from a moving tribute to an old friend to a punk-infused Yiddish standard in the blink of an eye.
Sun, 2pm @ Clarke House & 8:30pm @ Wild Hare

Last year, we were really taken with Balkan legend Boban Markovic and his Orkestar. This year, we’ve got big expectations for the Balkan Beat Box live show. If you frequent world music nights, you’ve probably already grooved to them. Grounded in Eastern European and Middle Eastern traditions, countered with a healthy side dose of electronic and hip hop beats, these guys have “crossover appeal” written all over them.
Sunday, 3pm @ Lakeview Borders
Sunday, 8:30pm @ Wild Hare
Monday, 9:30pm @ Empty Bottle

Baka Beyond are the tribal compositions of Cameroon’s Baka Forest People backed by a Celtic house band. That’s not hard to imagine, but it’s more seamless than expected. They sound like a less showy version of Peter Gabriel’s world showcase.
Monday, 1:30pm @ Borders Michigan Ave
Monday, 8pm @ Martyr's

We sometimes find ourselves grooving to WNUR on Saturday afternoons, so we’re looking forward to Tuesday night’s South Asian showcase of the modern MIDIval PunditZ and more traditional Sidi Goma on Tuesday night. It's an interesting pairing akin to Underworld opening for the Chamber Music Consort.
MIDIval PunditZ: Tuesday, 6pm @ Columbia College, Wednesday, 10pm @ Sonotheque, Thursday, 9:45pm at GAR Hall, Cultural Center
Sidi Goma: Tuesday, 7pm @ Columbia College & Thursday, 8:30pm at Cassidy Theater, Cultural Center

Ever wondered how a Scandinavian folk-bluegrass ensemble would sound? Frigg is the answer.
Thursday, 12:30pm @ State St. Borders
Thursday, 8:00pm @ Randolph Cafe, Cultural Center

After hearing Jake Shimabukuro, you may never think of the ukelele the same way again.
Wednesday, 6pm @ North & Halsted Borders
Thursday, 12:30pm @ Preston Bradley Hall, Cultural Center
Thursday, 9:30pm @ Randolph Cafe, Cultural Center