Thursday, November 14, 2013

Encuentro Music Festival is a real find for Colombian music fans

Jose Manuel Simian / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Colombian music has been the fastest-growing style of Latino roots music in the city over the last few years, and the premier showcase for the burgeoning local scene of its roots musicians has been Encuentro NYC Colombian Music Festival, an annual event celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

“It’s a quixotic effort,” says musician Pablo Mayor, who co-organizes the event with his wife, Anna.

“We can do it thanks to a group of people who donate their time for this. And because we’re all musicians, teachers, producers and parents, this is a job that you do slowly, whenever you can find some free time.”

For the third year in a row, the festival will take place at Manhattan’s Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St.) on Nov. 6, packing 15 artists into six hours of performances from 4 to 10 p.m.

“That’s one of the things that the people who attend the Encuentro like the most: The variety of acts; the almost complete representation of a country with such a diversity of musical cultures; a country where the mix of native, Spanish and African influences produced different results in every region,” says Mayor, who will perform with his own dance-jazz band, Folklore Urbano.

The lineup includes acts as diverse as Diego Chonta’s Grupo Chonta, performing music from the African-influenced Pacific coast; Gregorio Uribe’s Big Band; Martin Vejarano’s jazzy Chia’s Dance Party; the afro-punk beats of MAKU Sound System, and the dance of Daniel Fetecua’s Pajarillo Pinta’o company.

New to the festival are some outstanding jazz musicians that include pianist Juan Andres Ospina, while pianist Fidel Cuellar and drummer Luiz Ebert will present tracks from their New York-centered “Audiograph.”

Besides being a serious musical showcase, Encuentro is magical in other ways, too - - like how it turns a dark nightclub into a family-friendly party where adults and kids listen, dance and (age permitting) drink.

The only thing missing from the Encuentro, says Mayor, is an act that plays Colombia’s native music in a pure form.

But he’s working on it.

“The dream of this event is to be able to bring bands from Colombia to New York,” he says.

“That is my dream - - to make it an international affair.”

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