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Guide To: World Music Festival

Joaquin Diaz (credit:

When I was a pre-teen I used to go to my best friend's house and hear what his mother considered "hip" music playing loudly throughout the house. She subscribed to this service that sent her "music from around the world." "Listen to the sounds of Mumbai!" one CD might proclaim. "Smooth Polka from the source!" another might say. I don't care what you say, you can't make music with an accordion "smooth."

This music was not cool.

Thankfully, the music at the World Music Festival is not like the music that my friend's mom clung to. The music at the World Music Festival is a combination of contemporary and classic music, the best from their respective nations and locales, tailored to be enjoyable to all ears. Thrown into multiple venues in Chicago, the World Music Festival brings a little extra spice and character to what is already a diverse city.

Now, to be honest, too much goes on at this festival. Yes, too much. For us to describe to you at least. So consider this article a sparse guide, a small sampling of the festival itself. If you like what the small taste we give you here, then by all means, go to their website for the rest of the meal.


Here are a few highlights that will be at the festival. Feel free to check out the artists' page for a full list since this does not, in fact, scratch the surface.

The artists at the World Music Festival are playing at multiple venues, each with its own price, unlike many other festivals walled in my fences and tents. It's kind of nice, having the entirety of the city as the "festival grounds." So keep an eye out for where and when these great bands are playing.

Sept. 16th
Joaquin Diaz

Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden

Remember when I made fun of the accordion earlier? Well Joaquin Diaz makes it cool. Super cool. From the Dominican Republic, Joaquin plays the accordion to a beat worth dancing to. Coming up on the streets of Santo Domingo, Diaz knows how to play something for everyone, talking to the masses through his music. Plus, I mean, a free show in the park! How can you resist?


Sept. 17th
Arooj Aftab

International House, University of Chicago
1414 E. 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

According to her website, Arooj Aftab plays, "sufi music to blow your mind." So what is Sufi music? Traditional music that comes from Pakistan and India, mostly inspired by famous Sufi poets. How does Arooj update Sufi music to fit in with modern tastes? By pulling on jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald. Arooj Aftab presents poetry through her song, touching enough for both modern Chicago tastes while pulling on Arooj's own Pakistani heritage. Sounds good to me!

Sept. 18th
Mad Professor

Reggie's Rock Club
2105 South State Street
Chicago, IL 60616
$12.00/$15.00 at the door

The Mad Professor is an apt name for this artist. Inspired by funk and motown, the Mad Professor has used his natural, scientific genius to build some of his own music equipment. Combining good beats and science, he entertains crowds all around the world, from his home in the UK, to, well, right here in Chicago.


Sept. 20th & 21st

The Hideout on the 20th
1354 W. Wabansia Ave.
$10 (21+)

Chicago Cultural Center on the 21st
78 E. Washington St.
Free! (All ages)

Empty Bottle on the 21st
1035 N. Western Ave.
$12 (21+)

Combining big band swing music and hip hop, Movits! makes music that even your grandparents would want to dance to. Skyrocketing in fame after appearing on the Colbert Report, Movits! has obtained quite the following away from their homeland of Sweden. If you want to see worlds, and music genres, collide in the best of ways, then check these guys out.

Please, go check out the list of all the other bands present. There's a myriad of talent not mentioned here. Hopefully this helps though.

Mad Professor's Myspace


Keep an eye on the age requirements for the shows! For those of you old farts who hate going to shows with teenagers, try to seek out venues that are 18+, for those of you younger music lovers who don't want to be kicked out of a venue, make sure the show you're going to is all ages.

Free is nice. Many of these bands have free shows through the Chicago park district, so take advantage of it!

As always, stay nice and hydrated as you go out. Don't forget to eat, and don't forget to wear comfortable shoes. It's hard to dance in sandles, bro, and those heels look awfully painful, miss.

And, most of all, have fun! That's an order.

Mason Johnson, CBS Local Chicago


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