I’ve learned a lot from my friend and musical colleague Betto Arcos over the years, and yesterday I learned even more. This time the subject was the music of Colombia, from which he’d recently returned.
Betto, like me, is a world music cheerleader and has been for decades. First and foremost a fan of world music, he has hosted innumerable shows on KCSN and KPFK. Most recently, he’s been busy producing great world music features on PRI’s The World and NPR’s All Things Considered and NPR’s Weekend Edition. He is a superb broadcast journalist and my ears always perk up when I hear his national features. As I write, he’s on a plane headed for Washington D.C. to make musical presentations before U.S. Foreign Service diplomats on the music of the countries they’re headed to. Betto is a busy man.
Betto recently came back from a second visit to Colombia, this time to attend a big vallenato festival in Medellín. Vallenato is the accordion-based music of Colombia; its better-known counterpart is cumbia. There was a literary connection to the festival too: Colombian literary giant Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a lover of vallenato and wrote about it in his famous books; in some ways, vallenato was a running musical metaphor for his novels and stories.
I didn’t know that Medellín was a musical capital of tango–I learned that from Betto yesterday. Also that Carlos Gardel died there, not from a mid-air accident but rather a collision on the ground, about which there has been a lot of speculation: that the pilot was playing “chicken” with another aircraft, that somebody fired a shot meant for Gardel but hit the pilot instead. It’s still a mystery.
For this week’s Rhythm Planet show, we debut some cool new sounds that Betto brought back from his trip, as well as Afro-Colombian music, vallenato, and classic tunes. One is never too old to learn new things, about music, history, people and about life itself. I learned a bit of it all yesterday, from Betto Arcos. Check out his uber-cool hat and his fantastic podcasts!
Rhythm Planet Playlist for 5/20/16:
- Julio Rojas & Javier Vega / “La Hamaca Grande” / 100 Años de Vallenato / Editorial Aguilar
- Cabuya / “Queremos Rumba” / Neotropical II – NMC #06 / MTM Ltda.
- Yurgaki / “Las Horas” / Salsa D.C. – NMC #02 / MTM Ltda.
- Velandia y La Tigra / “Dejo” / Andes Colombianos – NMC #04 / MTM Ltda.
- Orquesta de Tango Red de Escuelas de Música de Medellín / “Retrato del aire” / Melancólico Medellín / Alcaldía de Medellín
- Pacho Galán / “Quiero Amanecer” / Historia Musical / Discos Fuentes
- Lucho Bermúdez / “Colombia Tierra Querida” / Vida y Exitos de Lucho Bermúdez / YoyoMusica.com
- Peter Manjarrés / “Recuerdos” / Sólo Clásicos Vol. II / Codiscos.com
- Colacho Mendoza & Ivo Díaz / “La casa en el aire” / 100 Años de Vallenato / Editorial Aguilar