Monday, September 24, 2012

Picking Tickets: Fall, 2012

by Susan Kepecs
I took a break this weekend from watching the horserace to the White House and entertained myself instead by deciding what to see at the city’s culture palaces – the Wisconsin Union Theater and the Overture Center – this fall.  Picking tickets, and then attending those shows, is one of my best strategies for staying sane.  So while the weather turns cool, here’s my annual, opinionated look at what’s hot between now and the end of 2012.
My list is slightly shorter than usual this fall, partly because of the WUT’s stripped-down season, necessitated by the fact that the venerable old venue is in the process of getting a major facelift.  During this revamp the theater’s using various smaller sites, including The Sett at Union South and the infinitely more charming but evidently less available Music Hall – though there’s no adequate space for dance. And Overture’s risk-aversion strategy, which includes booking long runs for Broadway touring productions – Jersey Boys monopolizes the big hall for a full three weeks in November – cuts into my ticket cache.  It’s worth noting, too, that Overture’s yielded much of the edgier music programming it used to do in the Capitol Theater to True Endeavors / Frank Productions, though fortunately for us this outfit’s offering some stellar acts.
If you’ve never seen el Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández (Overture Hall, Oct. 9), or even if you just haven’t been in a few years, like me, by all means treat yourself to a ticket. Yes, there are other Mexican folkloric dance companies, including Wisconsin’s own long-established Ballet Folklórico Mexico de los hermanos Avila, which also tours the world and is very good. But Ballet Folklórico de Amalia Hernández sits at the anthropological pinnacle of Mesoamerican folklore, since 1959 performing dances from the vast cultural treasure chest of our neighbor to the south several times weekly at Mexico City’s hallowed Palacio de Bellas Artes.
After its nearly impeccable run last year, Overture resident company Madison Ballet’s Nutcracker (Overture Hall, Dec. 15-22) is an absolute must-see.  Marguerite Luksik, in the principal Snow Queen / Sugarplum role, is a knockout. This year’s Nut marks the retirement of Genevieve Custer-Weeks, who’s been with the company since its beginning.  She’s stepping down from the stage to focus on her family and her Marin County pre-ballet Tutu School, and she’ll be missed.  In all six shows Custer-Weeks, known for her nuanced dancing and remarkable musicality, performs the Dewdrop solo artistic director W. Earle Smith choreographed for her in 2004, when the Overture Center opened. 
I’m on the fence about Royal Winnipeg Ballet.  Its Moulin Rouge (Overture Hall, Oct. 30), choreographed in 2009 for the company’s seventieth anniversary, should appeal to first-time ballet-goers.  This story ballet’s never drawn rave reviews, though it always gets props for its flashy sets and costumes.  The company has some solid dancers, and principal Vanessa Lawson is lovely.  I might go, just for that.  But to hook Madison’s increasingly sophisticated ballet audience, it’s time to aim higher.  Importing a major company’s an expensive proposition, but so are the Broadway tours Overture touts.  A repertory program from Miami City Ballet, the Joffrey, or Pacific Northwest would be just as likely to fill the big hall as Winnipeg’s Moulin Rouge – and it would speak volumes about Overture’s commitment to this major art form. 
Moving on to music, the options are more abundant.  I’ll probably end up checking out Grupo Fantasma, out of Austin, TX (the WUT series at The Sett, Nov. 2).  The members of this 11-piece band are plenty good players, but my enthusiasm’s tempered a bit by the fact that what they put out is yet another one of those ubiquitous new-century hybrids.  Grupo Fantasma does the pan-Latin thing, mashing up salsa, cumbia, merengue, Tex-Mex, funk, y quien sabe que más.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a salsera at heart, and I like the rest of these sounds, especially Tejano.  The way I see it, though, it’s better when it’s authentic.  The hell-bent trend toward genre busting that’s taken over the dance music scene sacrifices a certain amount of sociocultural sincerity – it’s in the rhythm, and it’s something dancers can sense – on an altar of relentlessly shifting soundbites.  If you’re gonna bring in a full-size Latin dance band why not go for some verdadera Big Apple salsa dura – say, Ralph Irizarry’s SonCafé (which played at the defunct Luther’s Blues in 2004), or Oscar Hernández’ spectacular Spanish Harlem Orchestra, which, also in ’04, shook up the Union Theater stage?  Or, before they’re gone, how about Tejano legends like Flaco Jiménez or Mingo Saldivar, who are, as far as I know, still touring?  But maybe Grupo Fantasma, live and in person, will win me over.  I’ll let you know.
On the jazz front, I’m looking forward to hearing emerging jazz saxophonist / bandleader Tia Fuller play the WUT series at The Sett with her quartet on Oct. 12two sets, 8 and 10 PM.  The (free!) event’s co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Union Theater and the Madison Jazz Collective.  Until recently you could practically count the number of women in jazz who played instruments on one hand, and most of them were keyboardists – Alice Coltrane, Shirley Scott, Mary Lou Williams.  But like bassist Esperanza Spalding, who’s better known, Fuller, 36, belongs to a tribe of Gen Y players blasting bravely through the glass ceiling.  She’s toured the world with Beyoncé and Diane Reeves. When Fuller gets to Madison she’ll be just off the Black Caucus gala in D.C. and the Monterey Jazz Festival, and headed for the release party for her new CD, Angelic Warrior, at midtown Manhattan’s Jazz Standard.  Her fiery sound’s tempered with soul – it’s close to classic hardbop, though laced with a contemporary, hip-hop edge.
The Birdland Big Band, led by drummer Tommy Igoe, brings its updated brand of swing to the Overture’s Capitol Theater on Oct. 23.  The BBB, born in 2006, gets raves for its regular Friday night gigs at the latest incarnation of the eponymous Manhattan club – and its big, brassy sound’s now stirring up a Monday storm at San Francisco’s Rrazz Room, as well.  I only know this band by its sole album so far, Eleven (Deep Rhythm Music, 2011), which showcases solo-rich arrangements of straight-ahead repertory from the ‘70s and ‘80s like Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly,” and Chick Corea’s “Got a Match,” though there’s also a generous take the immortal hardbop standard “Moanin’,” penned by piano potentate Bobby Timmons in 1958 while he was working with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.  If Eleven’s any clue, the Birdland Big Band will be big entertainment.
Two jazz fusion concerts round out the fall.  It may sound hypocritical, but music melding works better in the open-ended environment of jazz than with the world beat dance mashups we’ve seen so much of lately.  The jazz-rock fusions of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, wrought by the likes of Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis, are a great example.  So is Cubop, born in bebop New York of collaborations between Dizzy Gillespie and two Cubans, trumpet player Mario Bauzá and percussionist Chano Pozo.  In a geographic reversal some 70 years later (2010), the Ninety Miles Project brought three three New York-based players at the peaks of their careers – vibraphone visionary Stefon Harris, trumpet virtuoso Christian Scott and tenor saxman David Sánchez, who headlined the Isthmus Jazz Festival at the Wisconsin Union Theater in 2009 – to Havana.  There they connected with prominent Cuban pianists Rember Duharte and Harold López-Nussa (brother of Ernán López-Nussa, who was in town in September, 2011) – plus a panoply of percussionists.  The resulting album, Ninety Miles (Concord Picante, 2011), a bop-Cu (the reverse of Cubop) tour-de-force, made cover of Downbeat with lots of fanfare. 
The current Ninety Miles Project, which consists of Sánchez and Harris, plus trumpet lion Nicholas Payton, plays the WUT series at Music Hall, Nov. 29.  It’s impossible to predict what they’ll do.  Puerto Rico-born Sánchez, who’s paid musical homage to Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil and Camaroon on his own albums, recently told Los Angeles performing arts blogger Cristofer Gross ( that it’s not just about Cuba despite the band’s name, a reference to the distance between the big island and south Florida.  The ongoing project will build bridges to new places.  And I have no clue who’ll fill out the sound on this tour – possibly some local players?  But none of that matters.  Just go hear these cats play – you can’t go wrong. 
And finally, here’s another example of shape-shifting, twenty-first century jazz – the fabulous Bela Fleck with the Marcus Roberts trio, Oct. 16 at Overture’s Capitol Theater, brought to you by True Endeavors / Frank Productions.  It’s hard to imagine Fleck without Victor Wooten and Futureman, but this collaboration cooks.  The unexpected quartet put out an album on Rounder, Across the Imaginary Divide, this spring, and it was on the jazz fest circuit all summer.  Fleck’s indescribable jazzgrass banjo and Marcus’ two-fisted, honed-in-the-black-church piano style, steeped in the history of the music and polished in the classical canon, simply synch. Marcus’ regular trio’s filled out by a pair of hard-hitting, impeccable players – Jason Marsalis, the youngest member of the Marsalis dynasty, on drums, and Florida-based jazz educator Rodney Jordan on bass.  It’s a gorgeous new groove.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

El Clan Destino Rides Again!

by Susan Kepecs
Look out, Madison, El Clan Destino is back!  This brainy, muscular Afro-Latin quartet, which kicked off way back in the fall of 2003, is one of my favorite bands.  The outfit features some of Mad City’s most versatile players.  You know them – Nick Moran on bass, Vince Fuh on keys, Frank Martínez on drums, and Yorel Lashley on percussion and vocals. But for a while, Clan Destino was like a ghost – barely visible around town. “Honestly, in the last five years or so I didn't know if El Clan Destino would survive,” says Moran. “I thought we were reaching the end.”
That’s because  the band’s first conguero, Jamie Ryan, took a teaching job and moved out of town, and Martínez, who just got married, almost split the city as well. Luckily, Lashley’s on board now and Martínez decided to stick around.  So here’s the good news: you can catch them at the next two Friday Happy Hours at the Cardinal Bar, 418 E. Wilson – 5-7 pm this week (Sept. 14), and again on Sept. 21.  
Clan Destino stands out for its adventurous spirit.  Playing rock and roll with the five-note, two-bar Afro-Cuban clave beat is one of its specialties.  Though band members write most of the repertory, from the beginning, Jeff Beck’s “Led Boots,” an obsession of Fuh’s, has been a staple – done Cuban songo style.  In an interview I did with them years ago, Martínez told me “we put out hip-hop funk lines, but totally in clave.  We could do a polka-bembé.”
“We’re still coming up with stylistic mashups,” Moran says. “No polka-bembés in the mix yet!  But I've done some arrangements of Los Lobos tunes, Sierra Maestra and Cachao classics, taking the core idea of the tune but updating it to our format. We’ve also arranged classic rumbas and traditional calls to the Orishas. We've taken these rhythms and vocal lines and created new harmonies and combined them with elements of rock, funk, jazz and hip hop.”
Sometimes, says Moran, audiences don’t get it.  You see, we've always rebelled against the notion that “Latin music” should be a certain way: a predictable couples dance music that strives for that “authentic” Latin sound. That notion of rebellion has always been at the core of what we do. Sometimes we encounter a crowd that comes in with a preconceived notion of what a
“Latin” band should sound like. We take great pride in musically destroying that notion.”
If you love Latin music and you’re a rebel, I’ll see you at the Cardinal this Friday and next.  This week the band performs as a trio, minus Lashley, who’ll be out of town.  The trio performance will be a throwback to our earlier days as a hard hitting Latin jazz outfit,” Moran says.  “The second show will feature the full band, which will allow us to focus on the more Afro-Cuban repertoire as well as some newer material. So one could come to both shows and hear different music each time.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Interview: Zeb and Haniya

by Susan Kepecs
Pakistani pop phenoms Zeband Haniya are swamped, stamping their style of South Asian fusion on the world beat map.  That includes Madison, of course -- they play at the ninth annual Madison World Music Festival on Fri. (Memorial Union Terrace, 7-8 pm) and Sat. (Willy St. Fair, 3:30-5 pm).  Both women, who are cousins, currently live in Lahore, near India -- but their family comes from Peshawar in northwest Pakistan, home of the Khyber Pass and the bull’s-eye of the Af-Pak war.  Zeb (pronounced “Zayb”) and Haniya, who went to college in the States, are absolute proof that the Pakistani women in burkas we see on TV are mostly a myth.
Zeb and Haniya, utterly modern women, released their debut album, Chup!, (it means “Hush!”) in 2008.  A year later they won the Best Live Act award at MTV Pakistan – and besides performing and recording in their home country they’ve played for audiences in France, Italy, Norway, India, Malaysia, and New York City.  This month they return to the States as participants in the Center Stage project, a public diplomacy initiative of the US State Department in partnership with the New England Foundation for the Arts. 
This kind of cultural exchange makes a definite dent in the deficiencies of the mainstream media. Among New York Times headlines out of Pakistan this week I found “Taliban Rages over US Decision on Terrorist Group” (Sept. 9), and “Some Pakistani Women Risk All to Marry for Love” (Sept. 8). Despite everything this news imples, Zeb and Haniya put out a gentle sound – East meets West with skillful swing.
I had the good luck to interview Zeb and Haniya on the phone last week, as they kicked off their US tour at the University of Akron in Ohio.  They were both on the line at once, chiming in on the same questions.  I couldn’t always tell who was who, so in the Q and A below when I’m not sure who’s speaking I attribute the quote to both of them.  It’s not perfect journalism, but since they’re very close I don’t think they’ll mind too much. 

CulturalOyster: How were you chosen for the Center Stage program?
Haniya: We applied online and were asked to go to Islamabad for an audition when the Center Stage team came to Pakistan.  We played a short concert, and later we found out we were chosen!

CulturalOyster: I’ve read about a number of young Pakistani musicians lately, some of them women. This seems phenomenal, given what we see on TV about the repression of women in your country.

Zeb and Haniya: The representation in the US media of the state of women in Pakistan is not totally accurate.  Historically, Pakistan has always had very successful musicians. For example in the film industry one of the most powerful figures was the singer / director / actor Madame Noor Jehan.  She was called Madame because she was so respected and such a great figure of authority.  So we grew up listening to her and to lots and lots of other female role models – women doing classical music and pop and folk songs from the region.  In the 1980s the government [under Muhummad Zia-ul-Haq, who imposed martial law in the name of Islam] put restrictions on the arts.  A lot of musicians stopped performing in public, but they still played at private functions and the music never died out. There’s been a media boom in the past decade, which has brought out a lot of new talent.  But people outside the country are very surprised – they don’t expect musicians from our country.   

CulturalOyster: I read that a young female singer from Peshawar – Ghazala Javed – was killed there, in a drive-by shooting, this past July.  So I wonder – do you feel safe performing in Pakistan?

Zeb and Haniya: We do, actually.  We never lived in that part of the country, although our family roots are there, but we performed in Peshawar last year.  What happened to Ghazala was very unfortunate and one is tempted to attribute it to the Taliban, but the incident had nothing to do with them.  It was her ex-husband who killed her – he was angry over a money issue.  That happens all over the world.  The idea that anything that’s wrong in Pakistan involves the Taliban is something we have to fight against.  The international media is so powerful –stories are spun overseas and before you know it they’re all over the Internet.  The same perceptions are growing inside Pakistan – because western news is so accessible now, over the last five or six years people from other parts of our country have been afraid to go to Peshawar.  Yes, the Taliban are there, but that’s not the entire story.

CulturalOyster:  You must have started playing when you were kids – you’ve said you grew up listening to all kinds of music.  But when did you start performing and recording, and where?

Zeb: Our first performances as a band happened in western Massachusetts, when we were in college [Zeb attended Mt. Holyoke; Haniya went to Smith].  We put some of our songs on the Internet and they traveled back to Pakistan that way.  After we graduated and moved back home – Haniya to Islamabad, and me to Lahore – we performed separately.  But she came to Lahore in 2006, and that was when we started performing together in Pakistan.

CulturalOyster: Tell me about the various influences in your music, and how you mesh South Asian forms like Pashto folksongs with western sounds.

Haniya: I think one way American influence comes in is that I play guitar.  That instrument is so representative of American folk music and rock – the progressions I play are automatically accessible to western audiences.  And of course, we’re also influenced by what comes from our own country.

Zeb: It was not a conscious decision to mix those influences.  It was very natural.  At home, one of the first cassettes I heard when I was little was the Beatles, so this  also is music from our childhood.  It’s as much ours as anything else.  This is true for lots of Pakistanis.  That’s why it’s so easy to make the jump – we don’t realize “oh, now we’re doing something western,” or “that’s an eastern melody.”

Haniya: That Beatles cassette was actually the first one I remember.  My brother was a huge Beatles fan, but he also listened to Black Sabbath and Ozzie Osborn and my sister liked Cyndi Lauper.  All my siblings were always coming up with something – the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees.  And my parents liked Elvis and [British popster] Cliff Richard.  As for the South Asian strain, we write most of our songs ourselves, and most of the lyrics are in Urdu.  The sound is rooted in Pashto, Afghani and Turkish folk music, and also film music from India and Pakistan.

CulturalOyster: Who's in your backup band on this tour, and what's the instrumentation?

Haniya: We travel with four of our friends – they’re fantastic musicians. There’s Zeb on vocals, me on guitar.  There’s another guitarist, a drummer, a hand percussionist, and a Pakistani classical flute player.

CulturalOyster: I read that you were working with a spike fiddle player, so I thought there'd be more Asian instruments.

Zeb: My voice is an Asian instrument.  And the bamboo flute also is Asian.

CulturalOyster: You have a second album in the works – what else is on your agenda these days?

Zeb and Haniya: The second album is getting mixed right now, and we have two music videos in post-production.  There’s also a collaborative album coming out soon, with a Bollywood duo – the four of us have gotten together and written seven new tunes.  And there’s this tour – that’s keeping us busy through Oct. 4!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Gringa’s Guide to the Madison World Music Festival, Chapter 9

by Susan Kepecs

World music isn’t simply a melting pot of dance beats from across the cultural spectrum.  If you’re smart with your senses, it’s also a window through which to witness the ever-shifting global web of political, economic, historical and cultural realities with your eyes, ears, feet, hips and hearts.  For that reason in particular, attending the ninth annual Madison World Music Festival (Fri. Sept. 14 on the Union Terrace, Sat. Sept. 15 at the Willy St. Fair) oughta be required.  You don’t have any excuse not to go, since thanks to the Wisconsin Union Theater, the Wisconsin Union Directorate Performing Arts Committee, the Willy Street Fair, and a host of generous sponsors, it’s free.  
With the Wisconsin Union Theater closed for repairs the 2012 edition is pared down, like the rest of the 2012-13 season. There’s no warmup concert, no Thursday show, no related film screenings, no Dragon Knights puppets.  Madison World Music Festival No. 9 (Fri. Sept. 14 on the Memorial Union Terrace, Sat. Sept. 15 at the Willy St. Fair) consists of seven bands plus a world beat DJ – down from ten live groups last year, plus all the extras.  Still, there’s a lot packed into this two-day fest.
What leaps out about the 2012 lineup has nothing to do with size.  In its previous incarnations the MWMF featured a well-balanced mix of world beat fusions and Europop with traditional performers whose music manifests deep ethnic and cultural roots.  The bands in this last category are the ones I love best.  It would take a whole article just to name my favorites from festivals past, but among them Basque accordionist Kepa Junkera, from the ’04 and ’09 fests; huapangueros veracruzanos Tlen Huicani, plus the classic kidumbak and taarab orchestra, Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar, from ’06; Dominican merenguero / sonero Puerto Plata in 2007; and from 2010 Cimarrón, the glorious joropo band from the Colombia / Venezuela frontier.  Those groups and others like them are still going strong, but over the last couple of years (and more this year than last) the world music circuit in the US Midwest has tilted toward the proliferating global mashups of the multinational, multicultural Millennial Generation – tangled-rooted sounds, often uptempo and laid over an electronic rock, punk or hip-hop base.  The way I see it, at least half of the 2012 Madison roster will appeal more to the college crowd than to boomers.  But these young bands without borders are audacious, and the way their music cross-cuts older patterns of global interaction is intriguing enough to get anybody's attention.  

The biggest surprise is the singer-songwriter duo Zeb and Haniya (Fri., Union Terrace, 7-8 pm; Sat., Willy St., 3:30-5 pm).  These two women (they’re cousins) from Pakistan, never-before represented at the MWMF, come to us via Center Stage Tours, a cultural diplomacy initiative carried out under the auspices of the US State Department.  Of course if Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and Barack Obama would sit down and play music together the whole world would change.  But Zeb and Haniya – US-educated Pashtuns whose family roots are in Peshawar, at the heart of the Af-Pak war – blow  blow my preconceived perceptions of Pakistan out of the water.  The two grew up on US and British rock, plus the Pashto folksongs in their family repertory.  With their backup (guitar, flute, bass, drums and rabab – a type of spike fiddle that spread across the Middle East and North Africa via Islamic trade routes) Zeb and Haniya melt gentle, meditative rock with the crossroads sounds of ancient South Asia.  (I’m interviewing Zeb and Haniya later this week, so tune in again before you head for the fest). 
If Zeb and Haniya are the best story of MWMF 9, the band that appeals to me most is Matuto (Sat., Willy St., 1:30-3 pm). “Matuto” is the Brazilian equivalent of bumpkin, campesino, or jibaro, and this band serves up a mix of country musics – forró, maracatu and other ritmos brasileros plus North American hillbilly strains, slicked up in a young Big Apple jazz matrix.  Matuto founder and guitarist Clay Ross grew up in South Carolina and spent several years on tour with the master Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista (who played the Union Theater with Luciana Souza in 2009), which explains how this particular fusion emerged. For Matuto, Ross teams up with accordion whiz Rob Curto of Forró for All, a band you might remember from MWMF 3 (2006) and the 2007 Marquette Waterfront Festival.  There’s plenty of foot-stompin’ fiddle playing in most of Matuto’s online PR, but for this tour Ross and Curto are accompanied only by bass and percussion.  That might dampen the hillbilly side of Matuto’s mix, but no matter – these are topnotch players, and however they spice their sound it’s sure to be savory.
Reggae artist Taj Weekes (Sat., Willy St., 5:30 – 7 pm) doesn’t fall into the fusion family that prevails at this year’s fest.  Weekes hails from the island of Santa Lucia, like Jamaica an English-speaking, politically independent island formerly under British rule.  There are differences – sizeable Jamaica’s in the Greater Antilles, while Santa Lucia’s a speck in the Lesser Antilles chain near the Grenadines, Barbados and Trinidad.  Given this location you’d expect some soca in Weekes' sound, but by what I can tell from his online presence, his classic riddims and socially conscious lyrics come straight from the roots reggae tradition Bob Marley started.  In keeping with Marley’s Rastafarian mission, Weekes’ backup band, Adowa, takes its name from the 1896 Battle of Adowa, in which Ethiopan warriors routed an army of invading Italians – the opening salvo in a struggle against European colonialism that finally was won in 1941 under Haile Selassie’s leadership. Weekes doesn’t sound like Marley – his voice is softer, higher-pitched – but the Willy St. crowd will go nuts for his familiar, dance-driving sound. 
The rest of the fest is devoted to young bands forging their fusions on the frontlines of the twenty-first century.  The kickoff act (Fri., Union Terrace, 5–6:30 pm) is Movits! from Sweden.  Three retro-stylish guys in sneakers, suit jackets, Buddy Holly glasses and bowties, with one saxophone and a bunch of DJ gear, play what they call hip hop swing.  And yes, there’s some underlying swing in their Youtube videos, but it’s almost entirely buried beneath relentless hip hop beats.  It’s not my taste, though I’m only going by what I’ve seen online.  But the Movits are energetic, they dance, they were a huge hit at the 2011 Lotus Festival – and they appeared on the Colbert Report (in 2009), accruing the incontrovertible Colbert bump.
Delhi 2 Dublin (Fri., Union Terrace, 8:30-10 pm), a multiculti band from Canada’s Pacific coast, mashes up bhangara, Celtic and dub / hip hop beats. Think Bollywood meets Riverdance in the land of global dance grooves. Like Irish steps, bhangara – born of the Punjabi diaspora in Britain – is a whole dance culture, with its own universe of joyful and rhythmic moves.  Not surprisingly, the two styles sync – it’s a wild fling that works.
MC Rai (Fri., Terrace, 10:30-midnight), from Tunisia by way of California, brings an older, more established fusion – rai – to the table.  Rai is rooted in the nineteenth century, multi-ethnic Algerian seaport of Oran, where Bedouin poetry aimed against French colonial rule was fused with Spanish, French and Jewish sounds.  Swing entered the mix with American troops in World War II.  After Algerian independence in 1962 the Islamic regime cracked down on this freewheeling, multicultural protest music, driving it underground -- but in the ‘70s and ‘80s, rai emerged in the expanding Algerian community in France, where it was inevitably infused with the dance beats and instrumentation of western pop.  MC Rai brews his own gritty, urban, hip hoppy brand in California, where he’s lived since the start of the new millinneum.
From the far end of the fusion scale comes Canteca de Macao (Sat., Willy St., 7:30-9 pm), a nine-piece outfit from the melting pot of twenty-first century Madrid. The name must come from the fact that the Chinese island of Macao, a Portugese-controlled port of trade and a hotspot in the world system from the sixteenth century through the end of the twentieth.  Canteca de Macao creates its own cultural crossroads, mixing flamenco, salsa, cumbia, reggae, reggaeton, jazz, rock, punky Madrileño style and a deep rebellious streak.  Besides breaking musical boundaries, Canteca de Macao cuts loose from capitalist orthodoxy.  You can download all their tunes for free [] as long as you tweet about it or share on Facebook, and after putting out three albums on Warner, their 2012 release, Nunca Es Tarde, was fueled entirely by crowdfunding.
Madison World Music Festival Number Nine wraps as always with an outdoor finale.  Chicago’s DJ Warp, a staple of Windy City nightlife since at least 2003 (his day gig is organizing events for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs), spins world beat on the Union Terrace (10-11:30 pm).  It’s your best opportunity to take one last unencumbered, ice-cream licking turn around that sanctified outdoor spot, since it’s just about two weeks till the first fall freeze.
         And oh yes, there’s an encore.  If you missed Canteca de Macao, or want to catch them again, or you just couldn’t boogie like you wanted on the concrete at the Terrace and your feet still want to move, head down to the Cardinal Bar, 418 E. Wilson, where the dance floor is beautiful, on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 9 pm.