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MusicEtran Finatawa, Red Baraat Niger's Etran Finatawa, one of the so-called desert-blues bands to emerge in the wake of Tinariwen's success, includes Wodaabe members as well as Kel Tamashek, which gives their mesmerizing sound a greater emphasis on percussion and vocal polyphony; New York's Red Baraat is a rambunctious Indian brass band with a New Orleans funk flavor. Both groups perform today as part of the Old Town School's Chicago Folk & Roots Festival, and Red Baraat also plays Wednesday at Martyrs' and Thursday as part of Summerdance.
Red Baraat: 5:30 PM, Etran Finatawa: 8:30 PM, Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside, 773-728-6000, $10 suggested donation, $5 for kids and seniors
Dinner: Spoon Thai It's not like there's been a revolution against boring Thai food in Chicago, but there's certainly a healthy resistance, and it was born in Chai and Vanna Gumtrontip's little Lincoln Square restaurant.
4608 N. Western Ave., 773-769-1173
Show: Emir Kusturica & the No Smoking Orchestra "Founded in 1980 in Sarajevo, Zabranjeno Pusenje (Serbo-Croatian for 'No Smoking') were part of a cultural resistance movement called 'New Primitivism'; inspired by everything from Jethro Tull to the Sex Pistols, they combined brash, simple garage rock with touches of Balkan folk," writes Vera Videnovich. "Since the early 90s they've developed a style they call 'Unza Unza Time,' a mix of rock, Romany music, and Balkan brass with a distinctive two-four rhythm—the name evokes the sound of a guitar playing a traditional folk dance or a sort of Serbian rumba."
Dinner: McNamara's This is a welcoming Irish pub right down to the brogue-tongued bartender slow pouring pints of Guinness and the "mayor" opining from his bar stool on everything from politics to the proper way to make a Bloody Mary (with a healthy dose of horseradish, thank you very much). The restaurant, two comfortable rooms with exposed brick and large windows looking onto Irving Park Road, has a menu more elaborate than you might expect: in addition to the pub grub and dishes that nod to Ireland there are upscale crusted/stuffed/sauced preparations.
4328 W. Irving Park Rd., 773-725-1800, mcnamaras.com
Show: Restrepo Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, 42 American soldiers have been killed in the desolate Korangal Valley, which serves as a relay point for Taliban forces traveling between Kabul and the Pakistan border. This documentary by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger covers the 15-month deployment there of a platoon whose rocky outpost (named Restrepo for one of their dead comrades) was the target of endless enemy attacks, and it's an essential record not only of the Afghanistan conflict but of men in battle.
2:45 pm, 5 pm, 7:15 pm, Pipers Alley, 230 W. North Ave., 312-642-6275
Dinner: Perennial Seasonally oriented contemporary American restaurant from the team behind Boka and chefs Giuseppe Tentori and Ryan Poli. "On my last visit the simplest dishes were the most impressive: a lamb duo of chops and spicy braised loin with eggplant chutney, a lush foie gras torchon on the charcuterie plate, and a watermelon-tomato-olive-oil salad that should be devastating at high tomato season. This is one of the most boring restaurant neighborhoods in the city, so Perennial ought to be valued by locals as well as hotel guests," writes Mike Sula.
1800 N. Lincoln Ave., 312-981-7070, perennialchicago.com
Show: Hard Hearted Heart In this solo show, first produced last summer, puppeteer Blair Thomas presents three works: Federico Garcia Lorca's Punch-and-Judy-esque "The Puppet Play of Don Cristobal;" "Saint James Infirmary," based on the traditional blues song and rendered with rod marionettes; and "The Blackbird," an adaptation of Wallace Stevens's poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," using shadow puppets projected on parchment scrolls.
Dinner: Tepatulco The former Las Fuentes reopened as Tepatulco last year under the peripatetic Geno Bahena; perhaps predictably, Bahena's since taken off, but the menu retains many of his favorites, and the outdoor patio, which seats 200, remains popular.
2558 N. Halsted St., 773-472-7419, tepatulco.com