The 16th annual Madison World Music Festival occurred over the span of two days — Sept. 13-14 — at Memorial Union and the Willy Street Fair, completely free of charge for audiences. The festival was a celebration of international music culture, with performing artists coming from all over the world to perform in Madison.
Artists featured in the festival represented nine different countries: Italy, Cape Verde, Peru, Chad, Brazil, Madagascar, Niger Tuareg, Honduras and Angola. While the styles of music were very different, the passion and flare of the musicians was consistent.
The first event of the festival was a southern Italian dance workshop led by Carmen Marsico, one of the singers for the band Newpoli who performed on the terrace.
The dance workshop was held in Memorial Union’s Festival Room, and was well-attended, despite a lack of student presence. Those who attended the workshop learned traditional Italian dances like the pizzica, which they were then able to put to use on the terrace — dancing in front of the the band’s Mediterranean folk music.
While Newpoli exuberated their Italian flare on the terrace, singer Lucibela performed in the Play Circle.
The Play Circle is an intimate blackbox performance space in Memorial Union which hosts a variety of smaller shows throughout the year, including jazz shows and Black Music Ensemble.
Hailing from Cape Verde, Lucibela’s brought a mix of Portuguese and Afro-Caribbean vibes, wowing the audience with her smooth voice. Despite the hardships endured in her country, much of Lucibela’s music is infectiously upbeat and the rhythmic patterns are very conducive to dancing.
Next to the terrace was the Peruvian band Los Wembler’s De Iquitos. Despite not releasing any music between the 1980s and 2017, the band is back on tour for their newest album, “Vision del Ayahuasca.”
The group’s website describes their act as “part latin dance parties and part psychedelic rock extravaganza.” This combination of Latin and rock music makes for a truly unique listening experience, fitting right in to the goal of the World Music festival: showcasing talent Madison and America as a whole rarely gets to see live.
While the band members have aged significantly, they have not lost any passion for their music, which is unmistakably South American, despite inflections of rock and roll in their sound.
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The closing act of the night was Chadian artist Afrotronix. A DJ, singer and producer, Afrotronix blends traditional Chadian music with EDM, house and popular music to create a variety of different styles within his music. His performance was a solid closer to a day full of learning to appreciate new styles of music and dancing.
The festivities continued the following day at the Willy Street Fair, with more international acts popping up at a variety of stages along the street. Prism hosted the World Music Festival stage at the fair, beginning with Samba Novistas.
Led by by singer Ana Paula Johnson, Samba Novistas is a Brazilian-influenced six-piece band whose performance was as emotional and sensual as it was engaging.
They were followed by Toko Telo, a group made up of three of the most talented folk musicians from Madagascar. They have been described by NPR as having “a synergy all its own.”
Rounding out the night, Nohe & Sus Santos combined Alt-Rock, Cumbia and Pop with English and Spanish vocals to celebrate a multicultural range of music styles.
Residents of the neighborhood were also able to enjoy food carts and talk to various organizations that set up tents at the fair. The World Music Festival finished back at the terrace, with Angolan artist Vivalda Dula’s performance.