Like immigrants from any other continent, Africans tend to party among fellow countrymen, usually at events that might as well be secret to the outside world. So last year's Afrifest was a revelation to Africans as well as to others in Minneapolis-St. Paul, which has emerged as an Upper Midwest locus of pan-African music, culture, sports, and commerce. This year's multi-venue fest features a free business expo Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Pan African Mall in Crystal. Then the real fun begins Friday at Epic in Minneapolis, with a concert and pan-African fashion show headlined by Congolese pop star Awilo Longomba, whose ebullient techno-soukous is pretty much irresistible to anyone with ears, feet, and an ass.The show is hosted by comedian Boima Freeman, with performances by local Liberian rapper Blade Brown and spoken word artist e.g. bailey (a dress code will be enforced). Saturday features Grooves and Jazz at Suburban World Theater with a wine tasting and tunes by Yohannes Tona Band with special guest Incognita ($15/$20, 8 p.m.). Sunday is Pan African Family Day in Powderhorn Park (3400 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with food and soccer, followed by a closing-night celebration at Envy Nightclub in Minneapolis hosted by Def Comedy Jam alum Michael Blackson, "the African King of Comedy." (18+, dress code enforced, , 400 First Ave N.; 612.673.9694; www.envympls.com. $10 before 11 p.m.). The Pan African Business Expo is free from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Pan African Mall (5736 Lakeland Ave. N., Crystal; 763.560.2263; www.africafoodmall.com). Epic (110 N. 5th St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3742) concert and fashion show is 18+ Friday, ($25/$30; $50 VIP). For a complete schedule visit www.afrifest.org.
Fri., Aug. 15, 8 p.m., 2008