World Music Festival Shares Sardinia and Gambia with Chicagoland
Actores Alidos (Italy) and Sona Jobarteh (United Kingdom | Gambia) had the audience laughing and dancing in the aisles for the fourth day of DCASE’s World Music Festival. Sleeping Village, a venue rounding out its first year in the Avondale area, fostered a space of multi-generational community celebration for these two groups. Alidos and Jobarteh celebrated the heritage of their home countries, both with a uniquely feminine perspective.
Actores Alidos, a quintet from Sardinia, Italy, specializes in polyphony, a musical performance that has a capellic quality simultaneously merging melodies, harmonies, and rhythms that fill the room with complex sound textures. Even without a music theory background in polyphony, there is a viscerality to Alidos’ performance that cannot be understated. Their harmonizing hums reverberated throughout Sleeping Village, filling us with their stories.
The stories told by “Alidos” could be understood by their expressive faces if not through the words themselves. One of the reasons the group is so good conveying meaning despite language barriers is a product of their background as an Italian theatrical company. Their songs were mostly about the female experience ranging from historic to contemporary love songs.
The Alidos’ performance, more of a rehearsed, theatrical experience, was contrasted by improvisational performance of Jobarteh. For Alidos, most of the audience sat swaying, sometimes singing along, or laughing at their lyrical stories. However, when Jobarteh and her band got on stage, everyone jumped to their feet.
The Alidos performance also included a video component, which added to the theatricality. The mostly black and white videos included women performing domestic tasks as wells as Sardinians getting drunk off red wine --- one of the most crowd-pleasing songs was about the Sardinian tradition of drinking red wine. The song was accompanied with slurred words and humorous hiccups as Alidos mimicked the euphoric state of getting “wine drunk.”
Jobarteh walked on stage to roaring applause from the audience. From the beginning her compelling stage presence was made known even for those who might not be aware of her background as an activist and a prolific instrumentalist. Jobarteh plays the massive 21 string kora, a male-dominated instrument. Despite the kora’s size, she effortlessly moves around the stage like it’s just another appendage propped on her hips. While her obvious skill drew us in what brought us to our feet was the chemistry between her and her bandmates.
One of the more moving parts of the night was getting to watch the small intimate moments between the members of Alidos and Jobareth on stage. While Alidos performed is was sometimes like they were gossiping with friends and less like they were performing before an audience of strangers.
Same with Jobarteh, whose performance was a least half improvisation with her bandmates. Jobarteh’s love for Gambia, her home country, was tactile. Her performance drew in native Chicago Gambians as well, who shouted their love and support when Jobarteh preformed her ode to her home country, “Gambia.”
Both Alidos and Jobareth were able to draw us in with rhythm of language and instrumentation. A performance that was able to engage world music afficinados and newcomers alike.
Actores Alidos includes musicians Valeria Pilia (boghe sola), Alessandra Leo, (boghe de punta), Manuela Sanna (boghe de punta), Roberta Locci (boghe mediana), Valeria Parisi (boghe de suta), and Orlando Mascia. Sona Jobarteh performed alongside a four-man afro-beat group.
Thru September 23
Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.
near Michigan Ave. and Washington St.
201 E. Randolph St.
For more information read the Picture this Post preview of the World Music Festival and visit the World Music Festival website,