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Miami to rock the world music scene with TransAtlantic festival

Jordan Levin
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

Miami to rock the world music scene with TransAtlantic festival

MIAMI - Despite its globe-crossing name, the Heineken TransAtlantic Festival is a quintessentially Miami festival, a mix of music at the crossroads between North and South America, Africa and the Caribbean, between throbbing contemporary club grooves and bone-shaking traditional rhythms. Rhythm Foundation director Laura Quinlan got the idea for TransAtlantic, which starts Thursday, years back as she looked at the audience for her organization's traditional world and folkloric music events and realized they had almost nothing in common with the indie rock and dance music she still loved from her days as a Miami club kid in the 1980s and early '90s. "The things we were programming didn't really intersect with the music I loved," Quinlan says. "So the TransAtlantic Festival was a way to integrate what I felt passionate about and what I was doing." It also coincided with the emergence of a generation of musicians with similar interests. "At the same time there was this explosion of new world music happening," Quinlan says. Artists across the Americas, Africa and Europe were combining traditional genres with electronica, hip-hop, rock and all the other sounds of the modern music world, a blend that hit a sweet spot among Miami's club-going, globally fluent music lovers. Quinlan calls TransAtlantic "her baby," and this seventh edition may be her favorite. The event is concentrated into a single month, instead of being spread out over the season as in years past, with most events at the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach. This year also has what may be the event's wildest line-up yet. It kicks off Thursday at the News Lounge with a typically ear- and culture-bending TransAtlantic offering: Zizek, an Argentine DJ collective from a Buenos Aires club of the same name, specializes in electronic versions of rustic South American cumbia, a blend that's become hot in the city's club scene. "It's really funny, in Argentina with this grand history of cultural music, the kids have gone crazy for cumbia," Quinlan says. "Electro cumbia has crossed over and it's the cool music now." On April 17 is Aterciopelados, the perpetually experimental Colombian fusion band, with Curumin, a half-Japanese, half-Spanish Brazilian musician who plays an updated version of tropicalia, the '60s Brazilian fusion created by stars like Caetano Veloso. "It's the sound of early Caetano with a little more funk in it ... very accessible but very cool," Quinlan says. The following night is the Miami debut of Ximena Sarinana, a young Mexican singer-songwriter whose 2008 debut CD, "Mediocre," created a buzz in both the Latin alternative and American indie worlds, along with Rachel Goodrich, one of Miami's most talented up-and-coming artists. On April 24 is Budos Band, a Staten Island-based big band that mixes classic soul and funk with Afrobeat and African jazz; Miami's Javier Garcia opens with his mix of reggae, rock, Cuban and funk music. The festival closes April 25 with Cucu Diamantes, the zany, outspoken Cuban diva, along with Tinariwen, dubbed "the Clash of the desert." Made up of Touareg nomads from Mali, Tinariwen's leaders fought in a rebellion against the Malian government before turning to music full time. Their songs of anger, rebellion and exile are set to tribal melodies mixed with rock, Arabic music and blues (Mali is the birthplace of American blues). Already a legend in world music circles, Tinariwen comes to Miami after playing the renowned Coachella Festival in Southern California. Quinlan saw Tinariwen at a world music festival in Spain several years ago and says she was "dumbstruck" by the desert-robed, hard-playing clan. "They're so heavy," Quinlan says. "They look really intimidating ... these guys are rock 'n' rollers mixed with desert nomads. They're gonna blow everybody away." ___ The Heineken Transatlantic Festival runs through April 25, with events at the News Lounge or the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach: Curated Listening Party with Globesonic DJ Fabian Alsutanym, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; Curumin and Aterciopelados, April 17; Rachel Goodrich and Ximena Sarinana, April 18; Javier Garcia and Budos Band, April 24; Cucu Diamantes and Tinariwen, April 25. Tickets and info: www.rhythmfoundation.com or 305-672-5202

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