September 13, 2008

Go to Humboldt; Hear the World Alverno College’s Music Fest Brings Free Sounds From Around the Globe to One Park


It's a weekend poised to move booties and hearts. Global Union, the annual, free world music festival presented by Alverno College, returns to Humboldt Park today and Sunday.

Eclectic as always, this year's event will feature music and players from India, Cuba, Greece, Iran, Mali, Brazil, Russia and Kenya.

The festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. both days, with the music presented in the Humboldt Park band shell near the corner of Oklahoma and Howell avenues.

Seventeen vendors will feature international cuisine as well as beer, brats and burgers. There also will be apparel, CDs and jewelry for sale.

Here are a few musical highlights from this year's festival:

Nation Beat

4 p.m. today

This is something you're not going to hear every day. Nation Beat is a blend of American and Brazilian musicians playing a hybrid of Brazilian, Cajun and funk music. Fronting the band is a formidable Brazilian singer named Liliana Araujo, who was a recent finalist in her country's version of "American Idol."

The band also includes Grammy-nominated percussionist Jorge Martins.

Vieux Farka Toure

5:30 p.m. today

The son of the late Ali Farka Toure, Vieux carries on his father's West African blues tradition. Originally a percussionist, Vieux is now an acclaimed acoustic guitarist who has fleshed out his sound with woodwinds and indigenous African instruments such as the kora. His self-titled debut was released last year.


1 p.m. Sunday

As musical fusions go, the blending of Celtic music with Russian folk is probably not the first to come to mind.

The blend of sound is reflected in the ensemble's instruments, which include bagpipes and fiddle as well as the zhaleika, a type of Russian flute.

The group came together in 1999 when a Celtic music boom was rippling through St. Petersburg.

In its most recent recordings, Reelroad has veered toward a more Russian-folk sound.

With four vocalists, the group also has a strong harmonic component.

Mamak Khadem

2:30 p.m. Sunday

You probably wouldn't recognize the name, but there's a decent chance you've heard the voice. Persian vocalist Khadem sang on the soundtracks for the TV shows "Dark Angel" and "Battlestar Galactica" and the movie "Dracula 2000."

Although she moved to the U.S. as a teenager, Khadem sings in her native Farsi and incorporates a diverse range of world music, including Turkish, Greek, Indian, Kurdish and Bulgarian influences.


4 p.m. Sunday

Led by Cuban flutist Orlando Valle Maraca, this 12-piece ensemble is a dance-worthy salsa and Afro-Cuban band with loyal followers through North and South America. Maraca's three musical videos display a sexy sense of fun and high spirits.

Global Union is a joint venture between Alverno College and the Chicago World Music Festival, the University of Wisconsin-Madison World Music Festival, and the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival in Bloomington, Ill.


What: Global Union

When: noon to 7 p.m. today and Sunday

Where: Humboldt Park, 3000 S. Howell Ave.

How much: free



1 p.m. Lamajamal

2:30 p.m. Prasanna

4 p.m. Nation Beat

5:30 p.m. Vieux Farka Toure


1 p.m. Reelroad

2:30 p.m. Mamak Khadem

4 p.m. Maraca

5:30 p.m. Samba Mapangala

Source: Alverno College


To hear audio samples of the acts, go to

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