By Sue Arrowsmith, Miami Dade College
Miami Dade College’s MDC Live Arts performing series will bring together an eclectic group of Latin artists for its inaugural OLA Music Fest to celebrate the new wave of Latin music sprouting across the globe, from London to São Paulo to Miami and beyond. Combining electropico, funk, dancehall, hip-hop, cumbia and psychedelic sounds, this ground-breaking night will feature adrenaline-pumping music from Latin America and the Caribbean starting at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Downtown Miami.
OLA, short for Onda LatinoAmericana (Latin American groove), highlights hightlights five of today’s most innovative bands: Colombia’s Meridian Brothers, Peru’s Dengue Dengue Dengue!, Puerto Rico’s Chinchillos del Caribe, and Miami’s soulful groovesters Elastic Bond and Mr. Pauer. Each of the international bands participating will be making their U.S. Premiere at OLA Music Fest.
“Miami is a unique breeding ground for innovation and creativity in Latin music,” says Kathryn Garcia, executive director of MDC Live Arts. “OLA Music Fest showcases new and emerging trends and allows Miamians to experience some of the region’s most dynamic new bands.”
The featured bands include the Meridian Brothers, an experimental tropical band from Colombia. Bandleader and project creator Eblis Álvarez (lead vocals, guitar, direction) began his eclectic musical career in a very personal environment, which allowed him to move freely with his ideas, drawing on black metal to salsa music resulting in a spellbinding combination of disparate influences. The “brothers” include Alejandro Forero (synthesizers, samplers) co-founder of La Distritofonica (the band’s music collective/label in Bogota); María Valencia (sax, clarinet, synthesizers and percussion) is the band’s lone female multi-instrumentalist, and also co-founder of La Distritofonica; César Quevedo (bass) plays bass with the band for fun, and is one of the top classical guitar players in Colombia; Damián Ponce (percussion) is a contemporary music composer and one of the few composers releasing his own music independently; and Camilo Montañez (electronic processes & sound) who makes it possible for the band to play its incredibly complex arrangements live.
In 2005, the band released its first official album of the project, Meridian Brothers V – El advenimiento del castillo mujer (The advent of the castle women). Their 2012 album Desesperanza (Hopelessness) is included on the 100 best albums of 2012, per France’s prestigious magazine Les Inrockuptibles, and the track Guaracha U.F.O. is listed as the best track of 2012 by BBC6’s DJ Gilles Peterson. Official site: meridianbrothers.com
Peru’s Dengue Dengue Dengue! (DDD) is a tropical base duo formed in 2010 by Felipe Salmon and Rafael Pereira. They are renowned for their vibrant live performances, donning striking masks and audiovisual spectacles. They teamed up with Nadia Escalante (a.k.a VJ Sixta) for their live shows, modifying vintage cumbia cult themes with electronic versions. The masks they use and the videos they create perfectly encompass a tropical and psychedelic trip that creates a frenzied energy on the dance floor. They began to publish their first productions in early 2011, followed by gigs at major events and festivals, sharing the stage with international artists such as Mad Professor, Bomba Stereo, Manu Chao and Calle 13, and legendary Peruvian cumbia groups, such as The Shapis and Los Destellos.
Their 2012 debut album, La Alianza Profana (The Unholy Alliance), fuses the psychedelic sounds of 70s Peruvian cumbia with the deep bass of dub, UK bass and the modern sounds of techno, and dancehall music. The album caught the attention of Berlin´s Chusma Records, which re-released the album in Europe, Asia and Australia. This summer, DDD embarked on their first ever European tour, including gigs in Berlin, Dortmund, Vienna, Prague, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Granada, Paris, and Stockholm. Official site: denguedenguedengue.com.
Los Chinchillos del Caribe met at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), where they created the first Cumbia Boricua band, formed in amid the UPR student strikes in 2009 that shut down the Río Piedras Campus for nearly 60 days.
Even though the rhythms are fused with urban music, cumbia is the common denominator that runs through each one of their songs, along with a festive and danceable beat, socially conscious lyrics and urban flair.
Los Chinchillos play while wearing wrestling (lucha libre) masks entirely handmade by a Puerto Rican artisan Jose Hernandez. These masks are used to protect their true identity, represent the alter ego of each member of the band and allow them the freedom to express themselves freely through song and performances while remaining honest and true to their ideals. Official site: loschinchillosdelcaribe.com.
Mr. Pauer (Toto González) is a Latin Grammy®-nominated producer and re-mixer born in Venezuela and based in Miami. He is considered one of the pioneers of Latin electronica, receiving recognition for his debut album “Soundtrack”, which earned him a nomination for “Best Alternative Album” at the 2011 Latin Grammys. He also received a triple nomination for Premios Pepsi Music in Venezuela for “Best Electronic Album”, “Best Electronic Song” and “Best Electronic Video”.
His musical influences include rock, electro, new wave, house, tropical, cumbia, and afro-beats, creating the dynamic musical explosion heard in his albums and live shows. Official site: mrpauer.com
With influences all across the musical map, some classic and some contemporary, Miami-based tropical soul crew Elastic Bond, a name that gives reference to an atomic physics concept, brings urban edge with a tropical twist to the alternative music scene. The band’s groove includes diverse elements: Imagine a colorful, funky and tropical vibe reminiscent of Los Amigos Invisibles, A Tribe Called Quest, Julieta Venegas, Little Dragon, Amy Winehouse, and The Black Keys all wrapped into one. Official site: elasticbond.com.
Tickets for OLA Music Fest are $25 for the general public and $10 for MDC students with valid identification. To purchase tickets, and learn more about the 2013-14 MDC Live Arts season, phone 305-237-3010, or visit mdclivearts.org.