I’ve been a huge fan of Meridian Brothers for many years so it was a great pleasure earlier this year to chat with Meridian mainman Eblis Álvarez about his latest album, ¿Dónde Estás María?, which is a continuation of the work he’s been doing, creating satirical, conceptual, very rhythmic work that equally draws from avant-garde ideas and Colombian mythology. In fact, on this latest effort he has stretched out even further to show an influence of pop, folk and guitar music from Peru and Brazil in his work. It’s a special record so give it a listen if you haven’t already. Here’s the link to the album on Soundway Records.
The result of our chat was a feature on Meridian Brothers in The Wire #403 and also an article that’s just been published online by Pura Mestiza, and that is available in English and Spanish.
I also asked Eblis to discuss some of the Brazilian records he has discovered on recent trips to Brazil (where he was touring with another band, Los Pirañas) and which you can check out on the Sounds and Colours website.
Check out the title track to the latest Meridian Brothers album below:
I recently got asked at very short notice (well two days notice to be precise) if I could lead a musical tour around Colombia for Songlines. The answer was of course “yes!” so from September 12th until the 22nd this year I was in Colombia, passing through Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena with a group of six Songlines readers on a journey into Colombian music. It was a great trip with time spent in San Basilio de Palenque (discovering the first free slave community in Latin America), Merlin Productions (THE production house in Medellín these days, home to Puerta Candelaria and Maite Hontelé), Matik-Matik (where Mario Galeano gave an expert talk on the history of Colombian music), Plaza de Bolivar in Cartagena (a great place for watching cumbia and mapalé on the streets), on a graffiti tour of Comuna 13 in Medellín (thoroughly recommended) and a whole lot more.
I was hugely honoured earlier this year to be asked to write the liner notes for a new compilation being released by Staubgold and featuring the music of Ensamble Polifónico Vallenato and Sexteto La Constelación De Colombia, two bands that formed in Colombia in 1999/2000 and whose members later started amazing projects like Meridian Brothers, Frente Cumbiero, Ondatrópica, Romperayo, Los Pirañas and La Distritofonica.
In addition to the liner notes I wrote a press release, which can be read here:
On October 1st (that’s tomorrow!) I’ll be doing a talk about Colombian music and culture at the Colombian Consulate in London, which has been arranged by The Anglo-Colombian Society. I’ll be talking a lot about music trends in Colombia, as well as a bit about modern art, comic books and film. If you’re in London and want to learn more about Colombia then you should come along!
On Saturday 23rd March Sounds and Colours will be holding a big party in Matik-Matik to celebrate the launch of the Colombia book.
It’s taken a good couple of weeks to organise and is looking pretty damn good. There will be two live bands, Andrés Gualdrón y Los Animales Blancos and Carmin Duo (Carolina Cortes y Juan David Castaño), representing two generations of music-makers in Bogotá. Additionally, La Blanquita Farm will be DJing what he calls “exquisite tropical tunes” during the night. Of course, the Colombia book will be on sale too! It should be a cracker!
If you are likely to be in Bogotá on Saturday you should come along. Full details are on the link below…
As part of my recent tour of Colombia promoting the Sounds and Colours Colombia book I did an interview for Fonoteca, a cultural research arm run by the Colombian goverment. Answering some of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked in Spanish regarding how the Internet is affecting the memory of Latin America, perceptions of Latin America abroad and many other delicately-put questions, here is what happened:
I am currently in Bogotá (Colombia) promoting the book we made last year about Colombian music and culture. Titled, Sounds and Colours Colombia, it has been getting a great reception in Colombia, where the people seem thrilled simply by it’s presence.
Due to that fact, instead of a simple couple of weeks in Colombia as I was planning I’ve ended up staying for two months. It’s been a great excuse to improve my Spanish as well as promote the book. In that respect I’ve organised two events in Bogotá to celebrate the release of the book.
The first of these will be a discussion between myself and Humberto Junca (artist, member of Las Malas Amistades and UN Radio presenter) at Casa Tomada bookstore in Bogotá. This will be happening on Monday 25th February and should be a really interesting event for anyone wanting to find out more about Colombian music and culture, as well as meet some good people and maybe buy a book or two! Here are the details: https://www.facebook.com/events/146463438847930/.
After that we will be having a concert at La Puerta Grande, featuring Andrés Gualdrón y Los Animales Blancos and Aguasalá (who will be releasing their first album). That will be happening on Wednesday March 20th. I will post the Facebook Event once it’s ready.
So if you’re in Bogotá please drop in and say “hi”.
Many, many things have happened since I last updated this blog. The most exciting thing is that I recently self-published a book about Colombian music and culture. This was a venture borne out of Sounds and Colours, the South American music and culture website which I started about two and a half years ago.
The book is 198 pages long and is full on interviews, articles, illustrations and photos by many different contributors from all over the world. The intention was to create something different and exciting, and that reflected the interesting cultural things happening in Colombia right now, and the wide range of Colombian musicians, artists, writers and designers that have something interesting to say.
Pretty much all year I’ve been working on a Colombian project which is finally going to see the light of day this summer. Sounds and Colours Presents Colombia is a new book/CD celebrating Colombian music and culture.
This new 208-page book (limited to 1,000 copies) and accompanying CD will celebrate everything that’s great about Colombia, with lots of articles traditional styles of Colombian music as well as the current music scenes, Colombian cinema, Circo Para Todos, the giants of Colombian literature and theatre, original artwork, and lots more. It’s gonna be really special for anyone interested in Colombia.
To raise the money for the printing costs we’re currently selling advance copies through a fundraising campaign. If you want to help a great project get off the ground, as well as discover a hell of a lot about Colombia you should really check out the link: indiegogo.com/sc-colombia
Writing and Editing by Latin American music expert Russell Slater