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Live Music: Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto and Baracutanga


Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, the most storied and revered folkloric gaita and traditional cumbia ensemble from Colombia’s Caribbean region, has been active since the 1950’s. Their music preserves the traditional rhythms and sounds that are the product of a mixture of Indigenous, Spanish, and Afro-Colombian heritage. Dating back at least to the time of Bolivar, gaitero music is played on two flutes (gaitas) and a maraca, both of Indigenous origin, and drums of African origin, through the descendants of the many African slaves who passed through the country’s Caribbean coast. The group’s founder, Antonio “Toño” Fernández, is credited with paving the way for modern cumbia’s enormous popularity throughout the Americas by being the first to successfully put words to gaitero music. The Latin Grammy-winning band has toured the world and is currently headed by four of the original members, who perform with a new generation of gaiteros. Through their own new compositions and through teaching young musicians, Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto are a crucial link between traditional gaita & cumbia music and its contemporary renewal. Thanks in great part to them, gaita music has become one of the most influential traditional styles in contemporary Colombian popular music today.

Baracutanga, a New Mexico-based, seven-piece band representing four different countries (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and the U.S.), prides itself on arranging traditional South American rhythms in new and interesting ways, such as mixing huayño and cumbia with Middle Eastern darbuka, or Afro-Cuban batá and Afro-Peruvian festejo with Andean zampoñas, among other combinations. This kind of experimentation, blending ancestral traditions with a modern sensibility, results in an exciting, distinctive Latin flavor that is all its own. Lyrically and musically, Baracutanga proposes to build bridges between the south and north, finding common ground in creating songs that cross linguistic and cultural barriers and promoting cultural experiences that empower Latinos with a message of self-affirmation. Over the past couple of years the award-winning group has found itself enjoying an ever-expanding national and international audience with appearance on stages from Calgary to Juarez, Denver to Kansas City. Baracutanga will be celebrating the release of their latest single and video “Cuida tus Espaldas”, mixed by Grammy-nominated, triple platinum engineer Frank “El Medico” Rodriquez (Kinky, Juan Luis Guerra, Daddy Yankee).