For its 15th installment, Chicago's World Music Festival has recovered from its nadir last year—a hastily assembled and underwhelming lineup that was just one by-product of a clumsy administrative overhaul that left the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events basically rudderless at the start of 2012. . . .Chicago Reader
Rudderless, since 1999 you mean. The World (Third, n'cest pas) was the handiwork of Lois Weisberg - the octogenarian Highland Park Luck Strike Gal and Culture Vulture who traded in her Cows on Parade for a full out assault on fun. Lois had the late Maggie Daley bully her husband into giving Chicago Special Events to Lois and her surrogates. Chicago was directed to accept Nigerian Thumb Piano cacophonies over Tom Jones with the Mambo Express. Lois immediately slit the throat of Celtic Fest, Country Music Fest and other activities that people actually enjoyed and attracted revenue to the City coffers.
Ethnic music is wonderful. The music inspires community dance to the polka, Polanez, Céilidh, or blue grass clog and full throat-ed vocal jump-in - VOooooooLare! OhOH!
But is not what culture vultures impose. This is a PC static music festival and as fun as a lecture on Quantum Mechanics, or most programming on WTTW.
The World Music Festival is the entertainment equivalent of post- Hydro-Colonic pucker contests. I love music and in my opinion the Third World is as sophisticated musically as a drunken rodeo clown offering a nice little Chorégraphe russe. Hey, but that's just me. I do get bugged being lectured by tweedy geeks and Euro-trash posers concerning the canons of taste; especially, when such toe tappers as LapLander Goat Bladder Balladiers make the Lakefront sound like a Congress of Vegans following an all you can eat Kimchi Buffet. Oddly, the World Music Festival features musicians who might be considered sing-along pals of Al Qaeda.
Here's some of Headliners
QAWAL NAJMUDDIN SAIFUDDIN & BROTHERS It's been more than a decade since the World Music Festival booked a qawwali group—not that surprising, considering the crippling tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan, where qawwali arose and maintains a dominant cultural position. So it's encouraging to see Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin bringing this form of Sufi devotional music to Chicago. This group of powerfully voiced brothers from Karachi—Ehtishamuddin Hussain, Zafeeruddin Ahmed, Muhammad Najmuddin, and Saifuddin Mehmood—claim to be blood relations of 13th-century poet and composer Amir Khusrau, widely . . . yadda, yadda, yadda and praise be the Prophet's sphincter.
DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA Debashish Bhattacharya isn't the first to develop a slide-guitar practice within the Indian classical tradition—that distinction belongs to his principal mentor, the great Brij Bhushan Kabra Boy Howdy!!!!! Could Spade Cooley *have used this Buckaroo's twang.
KARDEMIMMIT The four young Finnish women in this terrific combo write their own songs, played largely on the kantele (a native zitherlike instrument, here in 15- and 38-string versions), and their inviting, accessible arrangements ring with sweet, precise vocal harmonies. Imagine sitting through a marathon showing of The Third Man Anyway, one could get glimpse at some Finn Shins.
Consider the source; please do. I missed the whimsy of Cows on Parade. Enduring a-tonal clangs, whizzing and buzzing for forty minutes, or minutes and being expected to search my soul for the darker societal sins while clapping with gusto is not my plate of wholesome offal.
Were the enchanting and available Star of Chicago (the movie), Ms. Catherine Zeta-Jones to offer her alabaster Welsh arm to accompany a night of World Music Festival, I'd demure. Unless, of course, the evening entertainment included Terry McEldowney and Volga Boatmen, or Johnny and the Fat Boys of Polka Nirvanah.