Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Welcome to post-Orlove Chicago

Posted By on 07.25.12 at 02:50 PM

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One of the great disappointments of last year's World Music Festival was the last-minute cancellation of terrific Congolese street band Staff Benda Bilili, who were forced to abandon their first U.S. tour due to visa problems. That would-be tour got booked largely thanks to Michael Orlove, then the lead music programmer for the city's Office of Tourism and Culture, who provided a key anchor date for the band with a concert at Pritzker Pavilion; he'd worked for a couple of years to bring Staff Benda Bilili to the States. In March he was hired by the NEA in Washington, D.C., but only after he was laid off by the city and forced to reapply for his old job.

I've been waiting to see what the fallout would be from the bizarre and apparently senseless shakeup at DCASE, and this morning I got a hint of how Orlove's departure will affect Chicago. Staff Benda Bilili are releasing their second album, Bouger le Monde (Crammed Discs), in September—and assuming their visas come through this time, they're following it with their first U.S. tour in October. Chicago isn't on their itinerary, though they are playing much smaller cities such as Wilmington, Delaware, and Asheville, North Carolina. Knowing Orlove's devotion to bringing important new music to Chicago, I'm sure he would've found a way to present them here. This year's World Music Festival is just two months away, but very little info about the lineup has been released—aside from a few shows announced by the Old Town School. I have a sinking feeling that the fest is going to suffer from a dramatic shortage of interesting talent, demonstrating yet again what a huge loss Orlove's dismissal will be for years to come.

Today's playlist:

Helado Negro, Canta Lechuza (Asthmatic Kitty)
Silvério Pessoa, No Grau (Casa de Farinha)
Kurt Vile, Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador)
Liturgy, Aesthethica (Thrill Jockey)
Humcrush with Sidsel Endresen, Ha! (Rune Grammofon)

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