This highlight of the weekend was Albuquerque’s world music festival, Globalquerque, held in the Mayan pyramid-shaped Hispanic Cultural Center. Three stages running simultaneously, along with a food area offering ethnic fast food, craft beer, and arts and crafts.
Since three bands were playing simultaneously, I wasn’t able to catch them all, but I got a taste of most of them, along with the craft beer and what they call döner in Turkey and gyros in Greece, except these were from an Egyptian cafe, and I don’t know what they call it in Egypt.
First up on the big outdoor stage was the French band Lo’jo, an eclectic outfit with influences ranging from Morocco, the Maghreb, klezmer, gypsy, and French popular music. Despite expert playing, but I never quite warmed up to them, which was probably my fault rather than theirs.
It only took me about ten seconds to warm up to Rey Vallenato Beto Jamaica, who is not from Jamaica but from Colombia. His name is Beto Jamaica, whereas Rey Vallenato is his title. He is the King of Vallenato, which is a rocking’ folk rhythm, and his band filled up the dance floor more or less instantly, and there followed a very hot and sweaty hour. Beto also closed out the festival the next night, and the audience response was no less enthusiastic.
This is the best video I could find, and features a cumbia (a Colombian dance), though it doesn’t quite do justice to his live show, with its massive wall of sound and ferocious attack and frenzied audience. (In fact I think they were a little amazed by the frenzy of the audience: they hadn’t had that reaction anywhere else in the States.)
After Beto, I caught a couple songs from Ghana’s Rocky Dawuni, a very impressive character who seems to be something like eight feet tall. He sang reggae, which I didn’t know was big in Ghana. As I’m not a huge reggae fan, I moved on.
I slipped away to view catch a couple tunes from a New Mexico mariachi band, Los Primos, who were backing singer Lenore Armijo. Their set seemed quite traditional and included “Cielito Lindo,” which gave me a chance to waltz.
Here’s a piece of their actual performance at Globalquerque, in the intimate setting of the little courtyard.
I thereafter hustled on to see Liu Fang, modern master of the pi’pa. I know nothing about the pi’pa or Chinese classical music, but Liu’s passion was so evident that I stayed riveted to the end of her performance.