Basic elements

By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  September 8, 2008

The Museum of Fine Arts has emerged as one of Boston’s major music programmers. On October 8, Niger’s ETRAN FINATAWA blends polyphonic singing, raw guitar, and percussion in songs that capture the nomadic life. Oud master SIMON SHAHEEN appears on the 10th, delivering his virtuoso fusion of Arabic music, classical, and jazz. Iran’s KAYHAN KALHOR ENSEMBLE, led by that master of the Persian spiked violin, embrace Kurdish folk music as well as traditional Iranian classical composition. Kalhor is best known to US audiences as part of the Silk Road Ensemble, with Yo-Yo Ma, but on October 17 he’ll deliver a performance steeped in his own roots. On the American-folk-music tip, it’s Austin’s ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO on November 11 and classic songwriter LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III on November 22. (Tickets for shows at the Remis Auditorium at 617.369.3306 or 617.369.3300 or

On November 6, the Afro-Peruvian diva EVA AYLLÓN will play Berklee backed by a student and faculty group led by 2001 Latin jazz Grammy winner OSCAR STAGNARO (For this one, visit

There are fewer world-music events in the clubs. On September 23, local husband-and-wife team (and guitar-and-tin-whistle duo) MATT & SHANNON HEATON bring their popular update of traditional Celtic music to the stage at Johnny D’s in Somerville. Two nights later, teenage Cajun fiddle sensation AMANDA SHAW plays the club. On October 10, Boston’s own PRESSURE COOKER offer reggae, and on the 28th, AFRISSIPPI, featuring relocated Fulani griot Guebel Kumba and Junior Kimbrough’s drummer son Kinny, leave Oxford, Mississippi, to make a rare stop up north. October 30 is a Latin dance night, with GREGORIO URIBE’s 16-piece band serving up Colombian rhythms. (Uribe also plays the Regattabar in Harvard Square’s Charles Hotel on September 27; call 617.395.7757.) MANGO BLUE, from Boston and New York, bring their Afro-Latin sound on November 8. Johnny D’s tickets are available at the door, but call 617.776.2004 for dinner/show reservations, since there are frequent sellouts and nights when only standing room is available for non-diners.

Cambridge’s tiny Club Passim is roots music central this fall, with too many great folk shows to mention. Among the highlights: BILL MORRISSEY September 19-20; Passim’s 50th Anniversary Gospel and Blues Celebration with MAVIS STAPLES, CHRIS SMITHER, and OLLABELLE on September 27; PATTY LARKIN October 4-5; and JIM KWESKIN & GEOFF MULDAUR October 9-10. Visit for the complete schedule.

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