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Off-topic: On planet

September 24, 2006

We saw all or part of the performances of six bands Saturday night at Globalquerque, which transformed the gorgeous National Hispanic Cultural Center campus into a musical Magic Kingdom.

I've never seen so many happy people gathered in one place. They do it again tonight. Let's take a quick tour.

It's because of Globalquerque that Serbian brass band Slonovski Bal came to the U.S. for its first American tour, and they kicked off the fest on the outdoor stage with their balkanized brew of gypsy, Mediterranean and European moods.

We snuck off to the lovely Disney theater to hear Kiran Ahluwalia, the Indian singer with a voice like cashmere. She and her four musicians sat cross-legged in front of a giant screen that gently changed deep colors and jammed effortlessly. The harmonium stood out, especially on the Punjabi folk songs.

In Salon Ortega, we caught the end of Trio Jalapeno, led by Antonia Apodaca. The hosts had to remind the band to keep going and play a full hour, so we were treated to the 80-something Apodaca clucking like a chicken and whinnying like a horse during "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain" while she flapped her arms and squeezed her cute little accordion. Later in the evening I got to swap radio stories with guitarist Ray Casias (who does mornings on AM-950 out of Espanola) and got a hug from Antonia.

We caught the end of Aurelio Martinez's high-energy show on the outdoor stage. The Honduran's African-influenced jazz-funk left me tripping over my feet.

We squeezed back into Salon Ortega to catch a couple of numbers by Jay Begaye and swoon to the Navajo's soft songs.

We capped the night back outdoors with Charanga Cakewalk, a collection of Texans who throw everything you can think of together and make it sound smooth and irresistibly seductive. Michael Ramos jumped from accordion to trumpet to keyboard to ... what was that recorder-looking thing that sounded like a cross between a harmonica and accordion? Anyone? His influences are wide and deep; I like that one of his influences is the Dave Clark Five. I heard spaghetti western, tex-mex, cajun, tango, country-western and on and on. During one of his accordion riffs I heard hints of "Please Please Me." Sweet.

Thanks to Tom Frouge and Neal Copperman for bringing such a world-class event to a world-class venue.

Posted by J.A. Montalbano at 10:39 AM |


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Posted by: neal | September 27, 2006 07:57 PM

Michael was playing a melodica. It's sort of a cross between an accordion and a harmonica.

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