A beautiful Downtown LA skyline and some pre-rain clouds served as the background for the commencement of the First Annual Los Angeles Cumbia Festival in Little Tokyo. On Saturday, February 28th, the event took place at the beautiful Aratani Japan America Theatre as the inauguration of the Aratani World Series. It was curated and produced by Judy Mitoma, the Director of the World Festival of food, drinks, live music and a cumbia seminar, the event was off to a great and welcoming start.
The theatre soon filled up for a sold out show and it came time for Eduardo Martinez y Su Palo Cuero to get the night started. The quintet graced the stage dressed in all white and took their perspective places. With wide smiles on their faces they gave their percussion instruments a beating and fed the audience their Afro-Columbian sound.
They set the perfect warm tone for the night. Before the next band hit the stage, the audience was officially given permission to dance; in their seat, on the isles, they were advised to “Do what you have to do” and they did not hesitate. They were on their feet and ready for the infamous “Buye Beat” of Buyepongo, who paraded on stage until they had filled it with their multi-instruments, including congas and a saxophone.
A couple soon joined them on stage for some playful and full-of-rhythm dancing. As Buyepongo left the stage, one sole member stayed behind and brought out Viento Callejero to accompany them on his flute during their first song. Dressed in sizzling red and black, they led the stage and the crowd into a dance frenzy.
Their accordion, deep base, and heavy drums brought out director of the show, choreographer and dancer Andrea Rodriguez to show some sexy moves and turn up the temperature a few degrees. The sound of a single shekere (percussion instrument) invoked the remaining members of La Chamba to appear next on stage. The Peruvian Cumbia Chicha band, dressed in dapper blue suits and black bowties, continued to put the audience’s feet and hips to work.
The elegantly dressed gentlemen left only to do it all over again. Each band made their way back to the stage for a second performance to give the audience some over time. It came to a special end when all of these talented musicians came out to jam in unison before ending this magical night.
It was an amazing and successful event; celebrating culture, music, and passion. Over the course of six months, the Aratani World Series will present eight different full entertainment programs; stay tuned for the next one!