It doesn't get any better than the Wisconsin Union Theater's Madison World Music Festival (Sept. 13-15), which kicks off the fall season at the Memorial Union Terrace and the Union Theater. It's an annual, free, all-out celebration of cultural resistance to Coca-Colonized pop-rock homogeneity. This year's zippy lineup includes both traditionalists who refuse to give in and pioneers who revamp the family folklore with 21st century world influences. Here are some highlights.
The New York Gypsy All-Stars (Sept. 13, Terrace, 9 p.m.) play wild, sophisticated Roma music honed in downtown Manhattan clubs.
The Huong Thanh & Nguyen Le Quintet (Sept. 14, Terrace, 5:30 p.m.) creates a lush new sound, blending Vietnamese folk opera with global Euro jazz.
Puerto Plata (Sept. 14, Terrace, 7:45 p.m.), 84, revives immortal son and merengue from the Trujillo-era Dominican Republic.
Dobet Gnahore, the fastest-rising star of the new Afropop generation, unleashes the spirits onstage at the Willy Street Fair (under the auspices of the MWMF, Sept. 15, 3:45 p.m.).
Estrella Acosta (Sept. 15, Terrace, 5:45 p.m.), born in Cuba, raised in Texas and currently of Amsterdam, brings three fellow expat players from the land of José Marti to play sabroso, salsified son.
Cuban/New York percussionist Roberto Rodriguez and Algerian Jewish pianist Maurice El Medioni channel their Spanish ancestors in a seamless new award-winning fusion (Sept. 15, Wisconsin Union Theater, 7 pm).
From Rajasthan, on India's Pakistan border, come the Dhoad Gypsies (Sept. 15, Terrace, 8 p.m.), playing tablas, charming snakes and dancing on beds of nails.
And on his very first U.S. tour, African axman Louis Mhlanga (Sept. 15, Terrace, 10 p.m.), a big star in his homeland and across Europe, wraps up the festival with a heavenly groove.