• Fatoumata Diawara: A rare bright spot in this year’s WMF lineup

Last week I posted the unfortunate news that fascinating Congolese street band Staff Benda Bilili would be touring the U.S. in October but not making a stop in Chicago, despite the fact that a scuttled stateside tour in 2011 hinged on an anchor date in Millennium Park made possible by Mike Orlove and Brian Keigher. Both of those top-notch music programmers were laid off by the city at the end of last year, and I’ve had a bad feeling ever since about what their absence might mean for this year’s World Music Festival. I’ve just looked over the freshly released schedule for this year’s installment, which runs September 21-26, and my fears have been confirmed: the 2012 lineup is easily the weakest yet, even worse than the 2001 roster, which was decimated by post-9/11 cancellations. Of course that’s my subjective opinion, but as a huge fan of the festival since its inception—and as someone who follows international music year-round—I think most folks are likely to agree with it.