World Music Festival

As it does every year, the Chicago World Music Festival offered a chance to hear many different kinds of music from all over the planet. I sampled several bands during the festival and wished I’d been able to see and hear more. Last Saturday (Sept. 19) at Martyrs’, the Bosnian group Mostar Sevdah Reunion played a nice set of songs featuring singer Ilijaz Delic, an older fellow whose voice is beautifully weathered. The headliners that night were a Romany or Gypsy octet from Hungary, Parno Graszt, who really got the crowd dancing with speedy, intricate rhythms. They were a true delight.

The festival concluded on Thursday (Sept. 24) with an open house featuring nine bands on three stages at the Chicago Cultural Center. This showcase is always a highlight of the festival, although it does get so crowded that it can be difficult to move around from one room to another. I caught a cool set of jazz by the Polish trumpet-and-drums duo Mikrokolektyw, the entrancing music of Iraqi-American oud virtuoso Rahim Alhaj, and a lovely set of slightly psychedelic Brazilian folk-rock by MoMo. I definitely want to hear more from all of these artists, as well as some of the other World Music Fest acts that I didn’t get a chance to see.

Photos of the Chicago World Music Festival.

How long has Chicago been hosting world music concerts? The tradition goes back way longer than 1999, when the World Music Festival started. As I reported in a Sept. 19 story for Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition was a world music festival of sorts. My story for WBEZ’s “Eight Forty Eight” show is posted online here.