Globalquerque, Part I

by wjw on September 22, 2014

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.


I didn’t get to hear nearly enough of Los Texmaniacs, a slightly deranged conjunto outfit, because I wanted to see Dva, a brother-sister duo from the Czech Republic.  Their act was probably the oddest I saw at the festival, though if you’ve ever seen entertainment from the Czech Republic, you know they’re pretty much in the mainstream.

I only caught a little of Dva, because I needed to dash off to see the legendary Calypso Rose backed by Kobo Town.  Kobo Town is a calypso band from Toronto, composed of former Trinidadians, and they’re damn good.

Kobo Town took up the first half of the show, and then the famous lady came out to sing. wearing what looked like a set of colorful green pajamas.

Calypso/soca is a musical form that features a lot of satire and political commentary, most of which doesn’t manage to cross the water to American releases.  Maybe the record companies think it’s too provincial, or maybe they just don’t like political commentary.  But in its homeland, calypsonians have actual political clout: Trinidad is a sufficiently small country that if a song about some issue tops the charts, politicians get the message.  Thus Calypso Rose can take credit for writing the song that resulted in a minimum wage of $1200/month for domestic workers.  And she also felt free to record her emotion at the sight of Ethiopian Jewish children disembarking from their rescue flight at Tel Aviv.

Here she is with one of her big hits, “Fire Fire.”

The reaction of the audience was, umm, extreme.  There was much jumping up and down.  Trinidadian flags were waved.  Lines of dancers snaked through the crowd.  By the end of the concert I was breathless, and stars were flashing before my eyes.  I think the air conditioning had totally failed.

I staggered out to the Plaza Mayor for a gasp of night air, and found there the Afro-Cuban All Stars, who were closing out the night’s fun.  I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t a bunch of guys in shiny gray suits and ties, along with some women in what I can only describe as white prom dresses.

But their music speaks for itself, and here’s a sample.  Minus the suits and dresses, unfortunately.

And ladies and gentleman, that was only the first night.

Part II shortly.

Devlin_du_GEnie September 26, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Thank for sharing. The iTunes Store should give you a finder’s fee, at least for me.

You should drag yourself to the Winnipeg Folk Festival some July. You’d love it.

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