Lincoln Square + roots music = the Square Roots festival 

Fatoumata Diawara, Glenn Jones, Sallie Ford, Alasdair Roberts, Beto Jamaica, and more.

Fatoumata Diawara

Fatoumata Diawara

Youri Lenquette

The Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce bring more than 60 acts, heavy on rootsy and traditional sounds from the Americas and abroad, to this year's Square Roots festival. Its eclectic lineup of performances and workshops occupies five indoor and outdoor stages: the North Stage (at 4500 N. Lincoln), the South Stage (at Lincoln and Montrose), and the Old Town School's Maurer Hall, Szold Hall, and East Lobby. On Friday bands start at 5:30 PM and play the outside stages only: on the North Stage, there's Quebecois folk group Le Vent du Nord and locals Sanctified Grumblers (with a contra dance lesson in between), and the South Stage hosts Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars and Birds of Chicago. Square Roots kicks into full gear on Saturday, when the music starts at noon. On the North Stage, the likes of J.D. Wilkes & the Dirt Daubers and Jon Langford & Skull Orchard warm up for headliners Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside; on the South Stage, Malian singer-­songwriter Fatoumata Diawara headlines, after performances by Gangstagrass, Boukman Eksperyans, Congress of Starlings, and others. Inside the Old Town School, roots reggae band the Meditations top the bill in Maurer Hall, while a DJ set from Justin Reed DJs wraps up the evening in Szold Hall. On Sunday the music starts at noon again, with a North Stage lineup that includes Tennessee-­based Americana band the Black Lillies, Great Divide, Alasdair Roberts & Friends (see Soundboard), and the Sundown Serenaders. On the South Stage, Afro-Caribbean roots rockers Bachaco close out the fest, after sets by Glenn Jones (see Soundboard), the Savoy Family Cajun Band, and others. Headliners at Maurer Hall and Szold Hall are Rajasthan Josh and Beto Jamaica (aka Rey del Vallenato), respectively. The four big stages host dance lessons and workshops too (interspersed with the performances), and in the East Lobby they're the main attraction—among them belly dancing with Erika Ocha, a vallenato percussion class, and Beatles and Grateful Dead jams.

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