Noon | Claudia Cassidy Theater
Artists Documentary Film Screening Marathon
Noon Nömadak TX (about Oreka TX)
1:30 PM The Duke of Bachata (about Joan Soriano)
2:30 PM The Other Side of the Water (about DJA-Rara)
1 PM | Edgewater Gralley Festival | $10 suggested donation
Black Bear Combo
1 PM | Navy Pier
3 Leg Torso This Portland ensemble has hit upon a winning blend—indie chamber music, cabaret song, eastern European folk, and a bit of freewheeling prog. They're not as aggro as, say, Uz Jsme Doma or Gogol Bordello, but their sound, honed by street performances and refined by film-scoring work, has its own flavor of mischievousness: the pieces on their new Animals & Cannibals (Meester), all of which are instrumentals, use strings, accordion, percussion, and piano to tell elaborate tales that don't necessarily end up where you thought they were going at the start, illuminating the weird world that unfolds when you wander off the path. —MK
3 PM | Humboldt Park Boathouse
La Excelencia The members of this killer 11-piece New York band come from all over South and Central America, from Argentina to Cuba, and though they play salsa dura ("hard salsa")—the classic brass-driven sound epitomized by LPs on New York labels like Fania, Tico, and Alegre in the 60s and 70s—they blend in related elements of traditions like Puerto Rican bomba and Colombian cumbia. La Excelencia reject the showbiz accoutrements of contemporary salsa, dispensing with cheesy synths and saccharine romantic ballads and wearing street clothes instead of matching glitzy outfits; they operate as a collective, without a glad-handing front man, which keeps the focus on the band's fiery, high-spirited interplay. The title of their second album, 2009's Mi Tumbao Social (on their own Handle With Care imprint), means "My Social Drumbeat," and the band's original songs address the racism and poverty faced by Latin American immigrants. But even if you're a gringo like me and can't follow the lyrics, you'll feel the joyous, infectious pull of La Excelencia's propulsive music. —PM
3 PM | Clarke House Museum
Riad & Takht A takht is a raised platform upon which Middle Eastern musicians have historically played, and also the name of the prototypical small ensemble in that tradition. The all-star takht raised by Egyptian violinist and composer Riad Abdel-Gawad features percussionist Yousri Abdel-Maqsoud, who toured and recorded for years with the great Arabic singer Abdel Halim Hafez; qanun player Saber Abdel-Sattar, who teaches more than 200 students at a state-supported institution called the House of the Oud; oudist Hesham Makarem, who earned his stripes in the ensemble led by violinist Abdo Dagher; and ney player Mohamed Fouda, whose many high-profile credits include an appearance on Youssou N'Dour's wonderful album Egypt. Their second album, Egypt: Mother of the World, came out earlier this week—this show is a sort of release party—and it blends Arabic tradition with subtle touches of classical and jazz from the globe-trotting Abdel-Gawad, who's studied at Harvard and worked as a street musician in Brussels and Paris. He tunes his violin down a few steps, giving it a throaty, wistful tone like that of its traditional Arabic counterpart, the kemancheh, and in general the ensemble does something very similar, absorbing a cosmopolitan range of influences into the mesmerizing, elegant sound of Arabaic classical music. —MK
3 PM | Navy Pier
4 PM | Whole Foods Stage
Meklit Hadero Meklit Hadero grew up in the U.S., but she was born in Ethiopia—which certainly helps her get invited to world-music festivals, even though her recent debut album, On a Day Like This . . . (Porto Franco), is basically jazz-inflected folk-pop. Sophisticated, literate, and tasteful, it's already earned her the NPR stamp of approval; the arrangements are spacious and gently driving, with serene horn lines that float over artfully clanky grooves. She performs one traditional Ethiopian tune, but without the usual piercing vocal style or distinctive pentatonic harmony. That said, her singing is appealingly delicate and intimate, which makes her occasional push hit that much harder, and her songwriting, while hardly revelatory, is consistently strong. Unfortunately her overactive vibrato and eccentric phrasing—she tends to add syllables to words or tweak their pronunciation for dramatic effect—can make it hard to simply appreciate her lovely voice. —PM
6 PM | Navy Pier
Delhi 2 Dublin
6:30 PM | Edgewater Gralley Festival | $10 suggested donation
7 PM | Second Presbyterian Church | $10 suggested donation
Barbara Furtuna This superb male vocal quartet from the island of Corsica take their name from an 18th-century exiles' song (its title is popularly translated as "Cruel Fate") that became an anthem of political resistance in the early 20th century. Their most recent album, 2008's In Santa Pace (Buda), includes a smattering of contemporary material alongside liturgical and secular pieces that are sometimes centuries old, and their stunningly precise, hauntingly resonant polyphonic singing dispenses with the bracing textures of old-fashioned chant styles in favor of a sweeter sound that's more like modern folk. Though a few songs add sparse instrumentation—acoustic guitar, accordion, violin—Barbara Furtuna are at their best a cappella. Similar groups on the neighboring island of Sardinia practice a throaty, cutting style that uses extreme vocal techniques and overtone manipulation, but Barbara Furtuna are more about pure, heavenly harmony. —PM
7 PM | Martyrs' | $12, 21+
7:30 PM | Museum of Contemporary Art | donation suggested
Pansori Brecht See Friday, September 24.
7:30 PM | Edgewater Gralley Festival | $10 suggested donation
8 PM | Old Town School of Folk Music | $15, $13 members, $11 seniors and kids
Kinobe & Soul Beat Africa
Meklit Hadero See above.
8:30 PM | Edgewater Gralley Festival | $10 suggested donation
Kings Go Forth It's fitting that the album art for The Outsiders Are Back (Luaka Bop), the recent debut album from this superb Milwaukee ten-piece, is by Mingering Mike, aka Mike Stevens, who as a young man in the late 60s and early 70s created a fictitious career for himself as a soul singer via several dozen meticulously hand-painted and annotated cardboard albums and singles. (In 2003 crate diggers discovered them in a D.C. flea market.) In some ways Kings Go Forth's music is lost in time, combining a dose of hard-hitting funk with Chicago-style soul that evokes the records Carl Davis produced at Dakar for the likes of Tyrone Davis and Barbara Acklin as well as Curtis Mayfield's 70s work. Charismatic singer Jesse "Black Wolf" Davis, who cut some unreleased tracks at Mayfield's Chicago studio with a group called Essentials back in the 70s, is the ringer here, but his sharp band also displays a confident command of classic soul, jacking it up with an energy that I assume comes from playing this stuff after punk happened instead of before. They hammer out deep, in the-pocket rhythms and lay down handsome melodies, but tunes like the reggae-driven "1000 Songs" and the psychedelic "Paradise Lost" prove they're not particularly concerned with strict fidelity to their inspirations. —PM
9 PM | Navy Pier
Balkan Beats DJ Robert Soko See Friday, September 24.
9 PM | International House
La Excelencia See above.
10 PM | Martyrs' | $15, 21+
Debo Band with Fendika
10 PM | Navy Pier
10 PM | Empty Bottle | $12, 21+
3 Leg Torso See above.
10 PM | Smart Bar | $10, 21+
ZZK Records showcase featuring Frikstailers and El G