Global Union

Saturday was terrific!  I love World Music and this was the right weekend for the 10th Annual Global Union concert sponsored by Alverno College (Milwaukee).  It’s the final concert of the summer series.  Earlier in the summer it’s Chill on the Hill on Tuesday evenings, and on one Saturday in September there’s a day long concert featuring numerous World Music groups brought to town expressly for this concert.

Aziz-Live-1024x455We started with Moroccan fusion in the person of Aziz Sahmaoui  and the rhythmic beat and plaintive lyrics sent chills down my back.

Karolina Cicha 1The second act was Karolina Cicha and this act held special significance as she is a young Polish lady who sings and plays Polish/Eastern European/Gypsy traditional music and modernized music on numerous instruments and in numerous languages.  She was sponsored and brought here for the concert by the local Polish Woman’s club.

Karolina's control panel

While she plays numerous instruments the electronics behind her work are awesome allowing her to double her own voice.

This young artist brought so many warm and fuzzy feelings from my own trip to Poland and from family memories.  I was in awe.  And to be truthful I kind of missed my parents.

The third group was Boogat.  Boogat-Press_Pic7_X_Guillaume_Simoneau-Lo-ResHe is a Quebecois who has moved to Mexico, born of South American parentage who met in Montreal.  Part of a ’70’s wave of immigrants to Canada from countries undergoing violent political upheaval he brings a bizarre mix of rap, hip-hop, nueva cumbia and dance hall with joy and pizzaz and he had the audience hopping! Bogota fronts a 5 piece band that mixes salsa and reggae with all the other styles I mentioned.

It was a wonderful Saturday even though I didn’t understand a word of any of the lyrics.  From Moroccan to Polish to Lithuanian to Yiddish, to Romany, to French, to Spanish — WoW!  We rocked out with an audience of every shape, every size, every color, and every age — and everyone had fun, there were no obvious troublesome moments — we all came together on the South Side of Milwaukee — not a place usually associated with being cool and ultra-inclusive — and we all had a blast.

I guess that’s part of what I love about Milwaukee.  To outsiders it has a reputation as a highly segregated and bigoted community.  That’s a reputation it got in the 70’s when school busing there the Milwaukee education system into turmoil and the city was almost spending more money on court ordered busing than it was on educating the children ordered to be bussed.

And yet today it is a very different place.  At least I find it so.  It’s not a hippie haven like Oregon.  It’s a very Democratic place — which explains the rift in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker a Staunch reactionary Republican elected by out-state voters over a nearly as strong Democratic vote among the larger cities in the south of the State.  100 years ago the South Side of Milwaukee was largely Polish, now it’s increasingly Latino.  The African American community tended to occupy the Northern part of Milwaukee and the Menomonee River Valley served for decades as a very real line of division.  But things change and populations change and settlement patterns change and I’m proud that we were here for the 10th Annual Global Union.  It was a celebration of music, and life, and all that’s good about America.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


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