Few things in the world can bring people together like music--and though learning about and listening to the music of a foreign land is not a substitute for understanding its culture or people, it's certainly a step in the right direction. So Chicago's third annual World Music Festival would seem a welcome balm for the pain, loss, confusion, and anger that have enveloped us since the morning of September 11.
Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks on the east coast have taken their toll on what was once a quite impressive lineup. Twenty-eight performers were scheduled to fly into the country, but at press time it was still unclear how many would make it; United Airlines, which had pledged free flights for artists both international and domestic, withdrew its support, so even those flying in from other parts of the U.S. were likely to be affected as well. As of Tuesday, September 18, performances by 18 major acts had been canceled; a list of all cancellations so far is on page 31.
More troubling than the air-travel difficulties is that, according to festival organizer Michael Orlove, many artists bailed out of concern for their safety or the safety of their audiences. Some understandably feared they might be stranded here if the situation were to worsen. But others, like Egyptian pop star Hakim and the French-Algerian band Seba, were scared off by American anti-Arab sentiment, and with good reason: a week after the attack, the Advisory Council on Arab Affairs, part of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, had already received reports of 85 separate incidents, ranging from verbal harassment to vandalism to assault.
This guide reflected the most current schedule at press time, but venue changes and further cancellations may occur. Phone numbers for all venues are on page 31, and the city has set up a World Music Festival hot line at 312-742-1938. The on-line version of this guide, at www.chicagoreader.com, will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Jean-F Leblanc-Agence Stock Photo/Michael Jackson/Alexander Brattell.