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5 Must-See Acts at World Music Festival Chicago — Part II

Maride Barros performing 2012 World Music Festival Chicago (handout pix)

Maria de Barros, performing at the 2012 World Music Festival Chicago (handout pix)

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Updated: September 20, 2012 7:58PM

So much to see, so little time. Among the 50 acts on the festival lineup, here some musts:

Matuto, 7 p.m. Sept. 21,

Reggie’s Rock Club, 2109 S. State:

If purveyors of the high lonesome sound had hunkered down in northeast Brazil, the result might be something like Matuto. Based in New York City and fronted by American-born fusionists Clay Ross and Rob Curto, Matuto builds on a foundation of forro, the accordion/percussion-based folk style popularized by the legendary Luiz Gonzaga, “The Soul of the Sertao” (“sertao” being the term for Brazil’s arid Brazilian hinterlands). Widely regarded as the foremost ambassador of forro, Curto takes the accordion to town in unlikely selections such as the traditional blues ballad “John the Revelator.” Matuto means “bumpkin” in Brazilian slang, but this band aims for the heights of world-music sophistication.

Maria de Barros, 8 p.m. Sept. 21,

Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse, and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park:

With the death late last year of Cesaria Evora, “The Barefoot Diva” of morna music, her followers have picked up the mantle. Leading the way is Maria de Barros, known as “The Queen of Coladeiras.” Born in Senegal to Cape Verdean parents, de Barros considers Evora her godmother and artistic mentor. While Evora never left her Cape Verde homeland, de Barros moved to Rhode Island at 11 and as an adult to Los Angeles, where she added Latin influences to her musical portfolio. She also displays a sunnier sound, favoring coladeira (an upbeat dance style) to morna. “Ces­aria’s life [was] a morna,” de Barros told the Seattle Times in 2009. “She suffered a lot. My life is a completely different picture, so I want­ed to show people the other side of Cape Verde.” (Her Sept. 21 concert will be broadcast live on WBEZ-FM, 91.5.)

Rana Santacruz, 7 p.m. Sept. 23,

National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., and 8 p.m. Sept. 24, at Mayne Stage:

“Mariachi meets Tom Waits” — that’s a tough billing to follow. After all, Waits himself once said, “A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.” Though Waits pretends to play a mean squeezebox in “Frank’s Wild Years,” Santacruz actually does onstage. He even one-ups “Mr. Rain Dogs” by strumming on the banjo — just one of the musical weapons in the vast arsenal of the Mexico City native, now based in Brooklyn. Along with Waits, the Smiths and the Pogues, he also counts among his influences Mexico’s cinema del oro and magical realism. Lots of magical realism: He recently told New York’s Club Metro he’s writing a song about “a guy who wants to steal the moustache of Vicente Fernandez [the Mexican ranchera great] in order to inherit his singing powers.” Now there’s a song that even Waits wouldn’t mind hearing on a concertina.

Canteca de Macao, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23,

Old Town School of Folk Music, Maurer Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln, and 9 p.m. Sept. 24, Instituto Cervantes of Chicago, 31 W. Ohio:

This nine-piece ensemble from Spain, with members from Venezuela and Chile, would fit right into the closing scenes of Fellini’s “8½.” Circus music influences, check. Crazy costumes, check. Life is a carnival spirit, double check. Combining flamenco, cumbia, reggae, ska and just about anything else on the dance floor, Canteca de Macao also salts its lyrics with social activism. It’s mood music for the Occupy era. (For the Old Town show, please call 773-728-6000 to request seats.)

Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, 7 p.m. Sept. 25,

National Museum of Mexican Art, and 8:30 p.m. Sept. 26, Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music: Founded in the 1940s, the traditional Colombian group took a Buena Vista Social Club-like turn in 2006, when it recorded “Un Fuego de Sangre Pura” (“A Fire of Pure Blood”) for Smithsonian Folkways. Suddenly the band, which specializes in gaita- (flute) based cumbia and performs in native garb, including the sombrero vueltiao (a white-and-black straw hat, a national symbol), had arrived. “Sangre Pura” won a Latin Grammy for best folkloric album, and Los Gaiteros’ influence can be heard in the music of Colombian pop stars Carlos Vives and Juanes. “It’s different,” said the group in a 2008 interview with the New York Daily News about the modern cumbia performed by Vives, et al. “We have taught many of them — we’ve been their masters.” (For the Old Town show, please call 773- 728-6000 to request seats.)

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