"If you play more than two chords, you're showing off." Woody Guthrie

Monday, May 12, 2014


Dear readers: I am pleased to announce that the results of my research in Charlotte are being published in two forms: An article "The Collective Circle" in the May 2014 edition of the American Ethnologist. And, as a book to come out soon published by New York University Press.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Latin American Festival 2011

It was with great anticipation that returned to Charlotte this past weekend for the 21st Annual Latin American Festival. I reconnected with many of the musicians and friends that I met during my time in Charlotte. The festival was exciting- beautiful weather, good food, lots of people, and the main act- Aterciopelados! Plus, this year I wasn't working the event, so I got to relax and actually enjoy the festival. Here are some photos and explanations:

(Big) Product placement: Wells-Fargo and Coca-Cola.

The first band of the day was Fuzion Latina, which is a new group that sings cumbia and salsa, has a Peruvian lead singer and several members of other bands who sit in on drums and horns.

Jacobo poses with Rosalia as she paints a scene of the Festival. Notice the ICE agents carrying ice buckets.

Los Tarascos de Michoacan were the next band to perform. They play traditional music from Mexico with acoustic instruments.

Dancers from a ballet folklorico performed on the cultural stage.

The next performer was Gersy Nicolas, who sang bachata and merengue.

Staff from the Latin American Coalition took a break for lunch.

Student activists from the "Drop the 'I' Word" Campaign took the stage to talk about using the word "illegal."

Jose Conde was the next performer. He had a small band and sang some chill songs from his new album.

Atlanta's Apu Inka performed songs from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador at the cultural stage.

Miami's Xperimento took the stage as the penultimate band. They played merengue, reggae, and cumbia, with some R&B mixed in, covering Bill Winters and featuring songs from their new album.

Some more folkloric dancers.

The Plaza de Artistas featured works by local artists.

The food aisle.

Coca-Cola puts its imprint on another Carolina tradition- cornhole.

By late afternoon, the crowd had begun to grow; this year the festival seemed to have its largest crowd ever.

One of the emcees, Sendy Mendez, works the crowd.

Aterciopelados' guitars awaited their entrance.

Andrea Echeverri, lead singer of Aterciopelados.

Venturing into the crowd.

"Florecita Rockera"

Sunset at the end of a long day of good music.

But wait, the afterparty was just getting started. Bakalao Stars opened up the Neighborhood Theatre for a free concert.

Then Xperimento livened up the audience with some reggae and cumbia.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fanta Festival 2011

Festival time was approaching and so my wife and I decided to return to Charlotte this past weekend to attend the 2011 Cinco de Mayo Fanta Festival. After spending the first part of the weekend hanging out with friends, on Sunday afternoon, we went to McAlpine Creek Park for the festival. It felt a little strange to be there and to jump back into the thick of anthropological fieldwork for a day, but I managed to take some photos and make a few observations for my study.

Here's what I saw.

The first band I heard was Los Tarascos de Michoacan. They played acoustic instruments and featured some traditional regional Mexican styles. At one point, a young boy sang with them.

A vendor covered American pop songs on his pan-flutes.

Grupo Painalli vigorously danced Aztec jigs for over a hour on the festival lawn.

The next band, Lizbeth and sus Incomparables de la Sierra, featured Lizbeth on keyboards (another young performer) and bubble gum pop style regional mexicano (if such a thing exists).

D-Amantes Musical were an interesting group. Thay started out a little weak, with some iffy vocals, but they played a variety of styles, including rock covers, and grabbed my attention even if they could use a little vocal tune-up.

Conjunto Escorpion played some cheesy love songs punctuated by the occasional keyboard-synthesized machine gun blast and shot out to Mexican football team Chivas.

By far the best band of the day in my view was Banda Los Guanajuatenses. They came on stage roaring with a Sousaphone, baritone, two drummers, three clarinets, and a brass section. Their sound was loose and blaring, just as a good banda should be. And they coordinated dances as brass and reed sections traded off lines. I found it refreshing that they forego the keyboard and make all the sounds of banda on acoustic instruments; does that make me a banda purist?

By this time the crowd had grown quite large.

Ruben and Jess of the Latin American Coalition were joined onstage by all the student volunteers for the Drop the 'I' Word campaign. The campaign is trying to educate people about how derogatory it is to use the word 'illegal' to generalize about immigrants and their immigration status.

The final act of the day was the headliner, La Autoridad de la Sierra. They played some uptempo numbers that got people dancing.