Wednesday, July 23, 2014

20 Jul 14 - Celebrate Clark Street

It’s a celebration of many cultures within the heart of one culturally diverse neighborhood, blogspot readers!

Today, SouthSide took a trip to the vibrant community known as Rogers Park to attend the last day of ifs 9th Annual Celebrate Clark Street World Music Festival. And what a unique family-oriented, music festival experience it was for this reviewer! Confined to four city blocks between Morse and Estes along Clark St, this community was not alive with the rich sounds of music from different corners of the world. Stages located at Morse (on the south) and Estes (on the north) featured performances ranging from reggae/ska to electric cumbia as well as dance and Japanese drumming demonstrations to entertain the fest goers. And what goes great with music but food, of course! The festival was filled with the yummy aromatic smells of outdoor cooking amidst the balmy mid-July summer day, blogspot readers. It was a foodie’s paradise to sample the sizzling as well as the spicy (or at times the super spicy) and sweet cuisine such as tortas, tacos, funnel cakes and pina colada Acapulco style (a refreshing pineapple drink in which you could sip right from the inside of the pineapple). There were also fun activities for kids of all age from art and crafts and face painting at the Art Lot, carnival games and etc ...vendors featuring fragrant homemade soaps, colorful handmade silk dresses, jewelry and more services to keep the residents of Rogers Park healthy, well-informed or entertained like dance classes or Taiko drumming. Yes, blogspot readers, there was SO much to see, do and participate throughout the day at Celebrate Clark St festival.

Here are some of the highlights from SouthSide’s time at Celebrate Clark Street World Music Festival...

After spending some time listening to the lively Duranguense music by the group Sangre Michoacana (photos above) at the Morse stage, this reviewer watched a dance demonstration by Glenwood Dance Studio ( and of its current participants, blogspot readers. From Jazz to ballet and tap, this dance studio has classes for all ages and for all skill levels in all styles of dance including musical theatre and hip hop which means you don’t need to have prior dance experience to attend a class or two. And if you have a busy schedule (and who doesn’t these days), Glenwood offers what they call “drop in” classes – where you can take classes that fits around your schedule. During the performance time, the dancers did the opening number to the musical Cabaret as well as Jazz and their popular dance class “Britney Spears” where you can learn choreographed dance moves popularized by this pop artist. Besides dance classes, Glenwood Dance Studio also has “BeMoved” and Yoga classes which combines dance and exercise into one. Check out the website for class information and schedules, blogspot readers.

Cumbia Machin
From San Diego, he was the one-man band featuring digitally electronic looping and more while he played on the Zendrum (due to a disability with his right hand), blogspot readers. SouthSide highly recommends checking out Joaquin Hernandez aka Cumbia Machin ( at his next performance. During his afternoon set on the Morse stage, he certainly electrified the audience with his original instrumental samples as well as melodic sequences of rhythmic electro cumbia beats which had a few dancing in front of the stage. Sadly, SouthSide could stay long to enjoy the entire performance but according to his Facebook page – there’s a CD coming out soon.

Meanwhile at the other end on Estes stage, the lively sounds of Japanese drumming could loudly be heard above the festival crowd noise, blogspot readers. Students of Tsukasa Taiko not only entertained the crowd with precise movements and rhythms (at times drumming as one) but also educated them about Japanese culture and festivals through the art of drumming. That’s the mission of this community arts program. By teaching and performing at events like Celebrate Clark St they can “...preserve, develop and pass on the traditional concepts of Japanese art as a cultural legacy...” while at the same time utilizing these concepts to expand and evolve the Taiko art form. During their time on stage, the students demonstrated the different stands of drumming used throughout different regions of Japan and/or festivals as well as performed songs like “Wild Horses” and “Ocean Wave” which did feel like the crashing waters against the rocky shore. It was truly an amazing performance, blogspot readers, and this reviewer highly recommends visiting their site or “like” them on Facebook for Tsukasa Taiko’s upcoming scheduled appearances.

In between the music performances, SouthSide took time out to chat with 49th ward alderman, Joseph Moore (top photo) – who was out and about shaking hands and/or chatting briefly with fest goers to thank them for attending this family-oriented event. “...[it’s] a wonderful coming together of people with many cultures from across the world...” in which he noted how diversely unique this particular neighborhood festival is when adding “...I think there’s no other fest like it in Chicago...” And this reviewer wholeheartedly agrees, blogspot readers. Over her eight years of covering Chicago’s active summer festival season, she has never seen and/or experienced anything like what she did on Sunday at any other festival.  Before leaving to walk around again, Alderman Moore thanked her for attending and giving it some publicity on her blog. Then she met political candidate Denis Detzel (bottom photo)who is currently running for IL State Representative of the 14th District which includes Rogers Park. He’s all for a new government and term limits as well as job creation that will put more people back to work and so much more. Even though not fully prepared to interview this candidate, SouthSide’s in the works on scheduling a special in depth One On One blog article with Mr. Detzel for next week, blogspot readers. In the meantime, you can visit and learn more about Denis Detzel at


Back to the music, blogspot readers, and SouthSide arrived just in time to feel the rhythmic combination of Rumba, reggae and more by local band Nu Bambu ( And she could clearly see why this group was popular with the crowd. During their performance on the Estes stage, Nu Bambu attracted a lively crowd of all ages and dancers through their blend of different music styles and rhythms and multilingual edgy lyrics. Essentially, Nu Bambu doesn’t only entertain with such of a flavorable sound, blogspot readers, but also creates a unique combination that’s deemed beyond danceable but too contagious not to. There’s too much hip swaying rhythms to merely stand still and watch them perform. “Baile ...baile...” that’s your command to dance along with them. What a party in the middle of Clark Street amidst the vibrant blasts of rumba or cumbia enticed many to dance either where they stood or in front of the stage! SouthSide highly recommends checking out this cross-cultural band known as Nu Bambu at their next scheduled appearance ...and be prepared to wear out your dancing shoes, blogspot readers.


SouthSide ended her time at Celebrate Clark Street with another popular cross-cultural local group that also attracted a large gathering even while setting up to perform, blogspot readers. Honing in on its mission statement, “...our music reflects how we feel about the world and what’s possible...”, Funkadesi ( and its music combines a unique mix from many corners of the world such as Indian Ragas, reggae, Latin, African, funk and so much more performing on stage. And what a cultural explosion of sound does this local group make, blogspot readers, which didn’t many within the crowd long to feel the melodic vibe flowing and surrounding them. It’s energizing! It’s contagious featuring the kind of vibrant culturally sounded music that makes you want to dance. There’s no standing still when Funkadesi hits the stage. So be prepared to wear out your dancing shoes with this local band wherever they perform next, blogspot readers. The music is always a crowd-pleaser especially at music/festivals like Celebrate Clark Street and SouthSide highly recommends checking out this world fusion musical group.

Well, time to say “goodbye” to Celebrate Clark Street World Music Festival, blogspot readers. This reviewer had a fun time ...see you next year, Rogers Park!

Until next time, support your local scene,

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