summer all over L.A. Those are sure to draw crowds, but I’d like to highlight some other events–shows with a latin twist and great for dancing. Thanks to my peripatetic Cuban friend, journalist, and dance pro Humberto Capiro, I’m reminded of these events you salseros and Latin music fans out there might want to check out. Most of the events listed below are free.
The first is this weekend: Coast – Santa Monica’s Open Streets Event, Sunday, June 5, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For the first time, two miles of downtown streets – including Colorado, Main, and Ocean – will be closed to cars for a day of local food, shops, music, dance, and games along the route. Performances include samba in the streets by local company Viver Brasil. The Santa Monica farmer’s market on Main will even have extended hours that day. Check out the program for full details. This event is free.
Next up, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes hosts a free concert series called Summer of Salsa in downtown Los Angeles, next to the beautiful Union Station (easy to reach via public transit!). 501 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. 888-488-8083. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. with concerts starting at 7:00 p.m. Featured bands include:
- Friday, June 10: Changui Majadero
- Friday, July 8: Melena & The Ladies of Salsa
- Friday, August 12: The Arsenio Rodriguez Project
- Friday, September 9: The Echo Park Project
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art also presents free Latin music shows with its Latin Sounds Concerts series on Saturday afternoons from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Latin Sounds features world-renowned artists playing the latest sounds from Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, and Los Angeles. Concerts begin at 5 p.m. I’ve listed just the first few shows of the series. Check out LACMA’s website for the full program throughout the summer. Don’t forget your dancing shoes.
- Saturday, June 4: Cuban-born Violinist Dayren Santamaria & Made In Cuba
- Saturday, June 11: SambaDá blends the sounds of Brazil with salsa, cumbia, funk, and reggae beats
- Saturday, June 18: The terrific big band Mongorama
- Saturday, June 25: L.A.’s Grammy-winning band Quetzal
- Saturday, July 2: The cool group Boogaloo Assassins
Another great free show, Soy Africano, takes place on Saturday, June 18 at 8:00 p.m. at Grand Performances, in the beautiful water court at California Plaza, next to MOCA. Soy Africano will showcase the ways in which clave-based Cuban music and New York Salsa were embraced by Africans, and led to thriving “latin afro” scenes in countries like Senegal, Benin, Guinea and the Congo. Featured vocalists include Afrisa International’s Wawali, Son Mayor’s Alfredo Ortiz, Chicano Batman’s Bardo Martinez, Brazilian songstress Thalma de Freitas and the legendary Lazaro Gallaraga. The show is produced by Dexter Story, which means it’s going to be good!
Last but not least, the Museum of Latin American Art will hold a big tribute to Cuban “Mambo King” Perez Prado on Saturday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m. Perez Prado: The Original Mambo King featuring Alex Acuña with CSULA Afro-Latin Ensemble is produced by Guido Herrera-Yance, one of Latin music program Alma del Barrio‘s best DJ’s (you can hear Alma del Barrio on weekends 6:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. on KXLU, 88.9). Considered by critics and fans around the world to be the original “Mambo King,” Perez Prado was one the most influential pop orchestra leaders of the early 1950’s. The performance will evoke the nostalgia of that important era and will feature as a special guest, Peruvian-born master percussionist Alex Acuña, who once played with Perez Prado. Purchase tickets here. Check out this clip of the “Mambo King”: