The venerable Old Town School of Folk Music on Chicago’s north side, the place to go for many years to hear acoustic and world music, now has some competition, and it’s right here on Madison Street in Forest Park.
The 2013 edition of the Madison Street World Music Series, now in its second season, will begin this Saturday with a “Brazilian Dance Party” featuring guitarist Paulinho Garcia. The intimate venue for the concert is the Pineapple Dance Studio located upstairs at 7518 Madison St.
The World Music Series is the creation of two businesswomen on Madison Street: Jodi Gianakopoulos, co-owner of The Old School Records and Erika Ochoa, owner of Pineapple Dance Studio. Their goal in starting the series last year was to “create a showcase of talent from Chicago’s musician community,” they said.
“It’s about having world class talent right in your backyard,” Gianakopoulos said.
“In addition to the most traditional forms of performance,” she added, “the series seeks to redefine the boundaries of what world music can be and to present ensembles that combine world influences, putting them into a modern context.”
Gianakapoulos has a degree in cultural anthropology, has a career with her husband Peter in retail music and is the World Music Director and host of a world music program on WRRG, the Triton College radio station. Ochoa has training in Middle Eastern dance and has been a contemporary artist for 18 years. She has taught at the Old Town School of Folk Music for the past eight years.
Guitarist Garcia will bring the sounds of Brazil to Forest Park. His online biography lists among his credits 2013 Best International Brazilian Vocalist by the Brazilian International Press Award. He was awarded the 2010 Chicagoan of the year in jazz by the Chicago Tribune. In 2010, the Brazil Club named him Brazilian person of the year. According to his website “his 50 years of Bossa Nova concert at the Chicago Millennium Park on July 24th 2008 alongside João Donato was seen by a record audience of 12,000.” He presently teaches Brazilian guitar and vocals at Old Town School of folk music and coaches a Brazilian combo at Roosevelt University.
Critic Neil Tesser wrote of Paulinho, “He becomes the epitome of the solitary troubadour – a romantic figure hardly visible anymore even in Brazil. Garcia’s voice, an airy baritone and his languid chords and cleanly plucked lines illuminate the complicated rhythms with the cool clarity of moonlight.”
But the series has more. Upcoming concerts include return of the Guitar Circle of Chicago on Aug. 3 playing “music for acoustic guitar ensemble.” Los Pichardo performs music from Mexico on Sep. 7. Middle Eastern music by Layali will be performed Oct. 5.
The remaining dates have not been booked yet, but groups from last year’s series give a foretaste of what is to come: Magic Carpet (North African/Jazz), Black Bear Combo (Balkan Gypsy Brass Band) and Kalyan Pathak’s Jazz Mata (Indian Percussion, Dance and Vocal).
When asked why they were staging their series in a town not known as a destination for hearing world music, Gianakopoulos and Ochoa replied, “When you consider where Forest Park is in Chicago, it’s the center. It’s just west of what you expect.”
Gianakopoulos and Ochoa said that almost every night was sold out last year, and that they have high hopes for their second time around. They said, “The 2013 season will be full of surprises, new tastes and bringing together a wide variety of people and interests.”
The Paulinho Garcia concert will begin at 8:00 pm on Saturday. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door or online at pineappleandrecords.com.