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By Laura Quinlan, Big Night in Little Haiti

The July 19 edition of Big Night in Little Haiti makes a leap from the stage to the walls.   In addition to the concert in the plaza, Rhythm Foundation is hosting the monthly exhibit in the Little Haiti Cultural Center’s light-filled gallery.

Rhythm Foundation official photographer Luis Olazabal has selected some of his favorite pieces from the first two years of Big Night.  The photos showcase his skill at capturing live music in print – the musicians and bands jump out of the shot, and viewers can feel the excitement of the night.  The exhibit includes 40 photos, including some of the big names who have graced the plaza stage like T-Vice, Emeline Michel, Mikaben, Skah Shah, Misty Jean, Kazak and Boukman Ekpseryans.

A special feature in the show is the “Rara Lakay” wall.  The gallery’s back wall is saved for six shots from one of Little Haiti’s treasures – Rara Lakay.  The homegrown carnival marching band shows up many months at the close of Big Night in Little Haiti, a huge crowd playing horns and percussion, and marches through the streets of the neighborhood for hours, trailed by hundreds of revelers.  Olazabal’s photos, these in black and white, capture the raw joy of the musical procession.

The installation crew at Little Haiti Cultural Center:  photographer Luis Olazabal and Rhythm Foundation production coordinator Adam Ganuza

The installation crew at Little Haiti Cultural Center: photographer Luis Olazabal and Rhythm Foundation production coordinator Adam Ganuza

Olazabal is a native of Peru who now lives in Miami Beach. He has been officially photographing Rhythm Foundation concerts since 2004.  One of his special skills is a ninja-like ability to become invisible when armed with a camera, ensuring he captures moments.  He has exhibited at Miami Intenrational Airport galleries, CIFO, Books and Books, Diaspora Vibe Gallery and other area venues.  His work has appeared in print internationally.

In addition to the wonderful photo show in the gallery, Big Night in Little Haiti July 19 features one of the Haitian konpa bands – of the last 45 years.  Talk about longetivity!  Tabou Combo has been atop the Haitian popular music charts for nearly five decades.  Since leaving Haiti in 1971, the band has become known as the “ambassadors of konpa” for the major international tours and CDs.  In their music, one hears a strong dose of the Dominican Republic’s national dance music, meringue. In addition, there is Haiti’s dance-till-you-drop carnival music, rara, the hypnotic drums of Haitian voodoo rituals.  Add to that quadrilles and contra-dances from Haiti’s French colonizers and funk from the American soul era to James Brown for good measure with a solid dose of a mighty horn section.

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DJ Mack of Mizikpam keeps the party going between sets.  Patrons can also enjoy kreyol cuisine from Little Haiti’s own Leela’s Restaurant, and ice cold drinks.

Big Night in Little Haiti is produced by Rhythm Foundation and the Little Haiti Cultural Center every 3rd Friday.  The free night, which attracts thousands of people each month, is presented with major support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  This month, The Miami Foundation and Southern Arts Federation join the list of supporters, which also includes AmericanAirlines, Florida International University’s Latin American and Caribbean Center, Prestige Beer, Kose Famn, WSRF 1580 AM, City of Miami and Miami Dade Department of Cultural Affairs.

Big Night in Little Haiti: July 19, 6-10pm; Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59 Terr;  photo exhibit is on display throughout the month

Photo from the Rara Lakay wall

Photo from the Rara Lakay wall

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