ZUMIX’s ‘Big Worlds’ series expands its universe for 2020

Photo Credit: Lauren Miller

In 2020, the universe of ZUMIX’s Big Worlds concert series is only growing larger. Started last year by the Boston-based not-for-profit educational organization, Big Worlds brings together different elements of prominent musical genres through various shows at ZUMIX headquarters.

2019 saw not only style-specific showcases of Boston hip-hop and R&B, Latin, and indie/DIY music, but also the food, apparel, and visual art linked to each community. Similarly, this year’s shows focus on the cultures behind experimental jazz, soul, world music, and singer/songwriters.

The Big Worlds “Season 2” debut is this Saturday (January 18) at its East Boston location, featuring music from singer/songwriters Ali McGuirk, Alec Hutson, Laura Lopez, and Johanna Affelin, as well as food from Saintz Kitchen, a vegan Haitian catering company run by Boston rapper Paranom.


“When choosing the genres for this year, I wanted to draw connections in worlds that ZUMIX is already adjacent to,” events coordinator Jake Gilman tells Vanyaland. “For example, Ali McGuirk and the Paulding brothers of Kotoko Brass are all ZUMIX teaching artists, Tim Hall is our 2019 Artist Luminary, and Jaw Gems is a perfect headliner for Pangea, a band led by ZUMIX alum and staff member Omar Sosa. We also have student bands in all of these genres — so it felt natural to bring all these people together in their respective genres.”

Next month, ZUMIX spotlights experimental jazz on February 15 with performances by Jaw Gems, Pangea, and Jazz All-Stars, followed by a showcase of soul on March 21 featuring Tim Hall, Rayel, and DiverCity Band. The series wraps up for the year with a world music edition on April 18, with performances from Kotoko Brass, Dzidzor, African Drumming, and Origination.

“Dzidzor has been doing amazing things with Black Cotton Club and came to one of ZUMIX’s Summer Concerts last year, so I wanted to plug her in and it turned out she loves Kotoko Brass — she was then able to refer me to Jojo’s Pies, who will be popping up at the World Music Night,” Gilman adds. “I’ve also been working closely with Chris Antonowich of Light of Day Records,  so he will be bringing vinyl curated to the given theme of the shows on February 15 and April 18. Navigating the degrees of separation and bringing all of these interesting people together is what excites me about this series.”


While the event is free for younger folks, making it readily accessible to the youth that ZUMIX already helps educate, Big Worlds will also be available to stream online, thanks to new partnership with The Loop Lab. Brighter Boston will bring more pizazz to the stage lighting, too, adding more glimmer to the ordeal.

“People will notice that this year we are collaborating with fellow non-profits The Loop Lab — to video live stream each Big Worlds event on YouTube — and Brighter Boston to level up the show lighting during performances,” Gilman says. “This is exciting because it’s the first time these three organizations will be intentionally working as a unit for an event, and it will allow fans of ZUMIX who can’t make it or no longer live in Boston to reconnect with us in a unique way. Other than that, people will notice that the genres are all completely different from last year, but will continue the Big Worlds event formula we used in last year’s launch as the series establishes its identity.”

Check out the deets for all four 2020 showcases in the flyer below.