Saturday, July 5, 2014

Celebrate Clark Street to spotlight vibrant world music scene


Now in its ninth year, Celebrate Clark Street World Music Festival will once again showcase a culturally rich musical lineup when it takes place July 19 and 20 in Rogers Park in Chicago.

Curated by the Sound Culture Center for Global Arts, Celebrate Clark Street will take place on Clark Street between Morse and Estes avenues, and a $5 per person donation is requested. Proceeds help fund programs such as the beautification of commercial corridors and the Glenwood Sunday Market in Rogers Park.

I had the chance to talk to Sound Culture founder David Chavez about the upcoming festival.

Q - Great talking to you. In putting together this year's lineup for Celebrate Clark Street World Music Festival, what were your goals?​

It's always a balance between helping to break new artists, representing the diversity of the community on stage, providing a platform for local world music artists, and ​booking things that have a story and will attract an audience beyond Rogers Park.

Q - How do you think this year's lineup compares to previous lineups?

I think it's pretty solid. ​I never know who’s going to be touring in the region around this particular weekend, so it's always interesting to see the mix of artists.

Q - Are there any acts in this year's festival that you are particularly excited about? ​

I always love Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca. He has a new album out; it's the perfect mix of an Afro Latin dance party. 

Cumbia Machin is a one-man Electro Cumbia Party playing sequencers and an instrument called the Zendrum (due to having Focal Dystonia​ in his right hand).

Cheick Hamala Diabate ​is a Grammy-nominated artist who just electrifies Malian dance music ​with his n’goni ​instrument​. Rafi eL is from LA and he's been exploring Latin folk music through a contemporary lens, often integrating electronic and global bass music. 

Kosta Kostov is a Bulgarian-born DJ/producer based out of Cologne, Germany who I met last fall in the UK; he integrates traditional and electronic Balkan beats with live musicians into his sets; should be a party. 

There are so many that I really like; locals Funkadesi and Fareed Haque, as well as Dos Santos and Vicios de Papa are party starters as well. And we have, for the fist time, Four Star Brass doing a set for us: NOLA style brass with Chicago twists.  
Q - You founded the Sound Culture Center for Global Arts in 2009. In establishing the Sound Culture Center, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

I think as Sound Culture has evolved so have my goals. I definitely think I achieved what I set out to ​when I first started Sound Culture, creating a trusted and consistent platform for "putting the world on stage.” 

I've seen so many more venues and festivals in Chicago now [that are] integrating world music into their programming. For me, the more people who experience world cultures first hand, even as a live music performance, the more we break down the barriers of assumption or prejudice about one another. 

That's always been my goal.  

Q - I understand that when you were 12, you were chosen to be part of a month-long school trip for a youth cultural exchange program to Cuba. Do you think that helped spur your interest in world music? ​

Most definitely! It was a place where many countries had delegations of youth that we would interact with on a daily basis, through activities and, a lot of times, through translators. 

I feel like that's what sparked my interest in other cultures and thus world music. That one trip showed me first hand how we are all more alike than different, and I've been back to Cuba four times since then; it's been what has perhaps shaped my world view from a very young age.    

Q - What do you think of the world music scene in Chicago? Do you think the Sound Culture Center has helped to spur more of a world music scene in Chicago?​

I think it's growing, I think the boundaries of music genres in general are morphing into each other. I think we've had some affect on the growth of the world music audience in Chicago and I'm very proud of that. ​

Q - What is the future of the Sound Culture Center? How do you see it evolving?​  

I'm not quite sure yet. It's always been an organic evolution, sometime without me even noticing. 

I have been doing more work in the Global Bass scene however, starting to blur the lines between the traditional world music community and an emerging class of new globalistas. It probably helps that I've been DJ'ing since college and have a special interest in electronic dance music, in particular where it concerns world music. 

We'll see where it all leads, but it's been a great ride thus far!   ​