The Balkan gypsy music of Mahala Rai Banda has the carefree yet subtly calibrated fervor of a square dance, buttressed by the Romanian ensemble's punchy brass section. Opener Red Baraat calls its sound "bangin' Bhangra and brass funk," a nod to its rhythmic flavorings from North India and New Orleans, led by jazz drummer Sunny Jain. Both acts promise big fun and boisterous dancing.
The sound of the Spanish Basque ensemble Oreka TX is grounded in the spare but hauntingly resonant tone of the xylophone-like txalaparta. The group will show parts of its film "Nomadak TX" while performing a live soundtrack in the lone Global Fest show where the audience sits instead of stands. Also on the bill is Portico Quartet, young British jazz cats who likewise feature an extraordinary instrument -- a hang, which sounds like a buffered steel drum.
"Global" music has enough of a legacy and depth to have spawned a supergroup of sorts in the quintet Sway Machinery, with members from Arcade Fire, Balkan Beat Box, Antibalas and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their akimbo pop-rock hooks up with Malian vocalist Khairy Arby, whose music is rooted in her nomadic Tuareg tribe as well as the call-and-response and string-driven grooves that make Mali a musical paradise. She will open the show with her own group.
Headliner Meklit Hadero is an Ethiopian- born singer/songwriter with a penchant for jazzy improvisation and an alluringly supple voice. Ghanian-born local hip-hopper M.anifest will open.