Saturday, September 20, 2008
Going Global!
photoJust back from Day 2 of ¡Globalquerque! I'm pretty exhausted so this won't be my most coherent blog entry. I take the success of the event very personally so I'm pleased to report that while the crowd was not quite as large as last night's, I believe that it was still bigger than the one at either of last year's shows. I'm sure Neal will correct me if I'm wrong. (By the way, if you saw Neal during the event, he was probably talking on his ever present Bluetooth! One of the sad truths is that if you are the person organizing a fantastic festival, you probably won't have a chance to enjoy much of it...)

My day at G! started off bright and early with some volunteer hours at the merch/info booth. Things were pretty quiet there, so it was an easy gig. During the day, there is a lot of programming aimed at families and children. There was a fun little train that took kids on rides around the grounds, and lots of dance workshops, art- and instrument-making opportunities, and performances. Admission is free, so it makes a nice weekend activity for parents and kids.

By midafternoon, it was sweltering so I figured I'd go to the Flying Star for a mango iced tea and a sandwich. The guy sitting at the table next to mine was chatting on his cell phone, and I overheard him say that he'd been to the festival last night and that his wife and kids were currently there for the day programming. They came by a little later, one of the girls carrying a little drum that she'd made.

I arrived back at 6 PM to catch the first act on the schedule, Los Matachines de Bernalillo. This was an interesting cultural event. Four musicians sat on stage, and a troupe of male dancers, accompanied by two young girls dressed in white, performed. The dance-drama is done in honor of San Lorenzo, the town of Bernalillo's patron saint. Here is an article explaining the tradition. The men all wear tall headdresses and black fringed scarves covering their whole faces. It is an amazing tradition, but if I were a youngster, I think I would have been kind of freaked out by the seemingly faceless men! (Since they were sharing with us one of their sacred rites, we were asked not to take photographs. I did find a few online in this gallery.)

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I was so psyched to see this billboard, I had to pull over and take a photo!

Forro in the Dark (below) were an excellent Brazilian band which really got the crowd moving with their danceable tunes. A few songs in, it started raining, but as was the case last night, it didn't last long -- hooray! Most people ignored the brief shower and just kept dancing.

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I am not a huge fan of Hawaiian music, but I thought I'd check out a little bit of Hapa's set. Two members of the group, Barry Flanagan and Nathan Aweau, were performing as a duo (Hapa played as a quartet last night). At one point, Aweau started playing a SEVEN STRING bass guitar!! I had never seen anything like it. He was quite a virtuoso. He played "Greensleeves" and the Beatles' "Come Together," so I guess I didn't have to worry about it being "too Hawaiian"!

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One of the coolest things about G! is that it features acts on three different stages, so you never have to experience a moment of downtime -- there are always at least two performers playing at once. However, the dark side of this scheduling is that sometimes there are a couple of excellent things going on at the same time. Such was the case tonight, when Lo Cor de la Plana and Mexican Institute of Sound were on opposite each other. I had no idea what to expect from Lo Cor, who were described as a "French a cappella group." If you expected something delicate and pretty from that description, guess again -- this was a raucous, hard-driving group of Frenchmen from the town of Marseilles, which one of the members described as "the filthiest town in France" (at least in the eyes of the Parisians, their bitter enemies!). The sextet commands the stage, accompanying themselves with hand claps, foot stomps, and hand drums. The crowd went nuts for them and my pal Jeff in the merch booth said they had quickly sold out of their CDs.

I couldn't tear myself away from their performance, so I only wound up seeing about 25 minutes of M.I.S., who ROCKED THE HOUSE with its irresistible mashup of electronica, cumbia, hip-hop and about a dozen other genres. (One tune mixed a little "Macarena" in with "Music to Watch Girls By.") The band consisted of two DJs and a live drummer -- it was a little hard to see 'cause it was crowded but the main guy, Camilo Lara, also appeared to be playing cowbell and a small keyboard. The area in front of the stage was full of madly dancing people of all ages, from 10 to 60+. It occurred to me that if M.I.S. ever played San Francisco it would probably be at some trendy club that would make me feel old and hopelessly unhip, but here at G!, there was a delightful sense of unity. It felt good. I was a little disappointed that they hadn't brought any CDs to sell, but their latest disc Piñata is available from eMusic and even has a couple of eMusic-exclusive bonus tracks. Score!

After five hours of music, I was feeling a little wiped so I left about 40 minutes into closer Thomas Mapfumo's set, but I was able to catch a few more minutes of it on the live simulcast on KUNM during the drive back to the hotel. So that's it for G! '08. Let's do it again next year -- say, Sept. 25 & 26, 2009.
posted by 125records @ 10:38 PM  
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Home: San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States
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