Alma Del Barrio: 1st Annual Salsa Fest Sizzles!
Westchester- For 40 year, actually 41 years, Alma Del Barrio has played an integral part in the Southern California’s Latin music community. Factor in the internet, this reach spans to the Global community. If you weren’t already aware, you can listen to the station every Saturday and Sunday from 6:00AM-6:00PM, 88.9FM. The DJ’s from the station always say “Que Siga La Rumba!”
Alma Del Barrio’s DJ’s and staff decided to celebrate this major milestone with the community on Sunday, October 26, 2014. This was the inaugural 1st Annual Salsa Fest. People were also able to meet and greet the DJ’s and staff of Alma Del Barrio. Salseros from throughout Southern California came out in droves to support the station that has kept them shaking and swaying to the sounds of salsa music for 41 years.
From the Alma Del Barrio website- “Alma Del Barrio has been on the Los Angeles airwaves since the Fall of 1973, when it was started by Enrique “Kiki” Soto and Raul Villa, then students at the Westchester campus of Loyola Marymount University. KXLU 88.8FM, Los Angeles is a LMU radio station licensed by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to be a non-commercial, educational station. It has been assigned a radiating power of 3000 watts, which means its reach was initially limited (thanks to the internet). For people living on the west side and surrounding areas, Alma Del Barrio is a gold mine for bachata, bomba, changui, cumbia, merengue, plena, timba and other Latin music, especially Salsa music. The DJ’s and staff consistently educate its listening audience on the types of music that it is listening to, its roots, and biography of the artists, its history and cultural importance.”
Many of the DJ’s and staff of Alma Del Barrio were present for the 1st Annual Salsa Fest. Thanks to Nelson Rodriquez, a walking encyclopedia of Salsa and Latin music for his assistance with the current roster of DJ’s- Christina Banuelos, Jose Cristobal, Joaquin del Toro, Guido Herrera, Eddie Lopez, Javi Reyes, Ana Perez, Angelica Loera,Michelle Lara, Gustavo Aragon, Andres Buritica, LauraHerrera Rosalva Lara, Albert Price, Josue Sandigo and Kat Soto. My apologies if I over looked anyone. Also present were Alan Geike, a former DJ, and Rudy and Yvette Mangual of Latin Beat Magazine.
The festival was held at Lawton Plaza, on Loyola Marymount University, in Westchester, California. Lawton Plaza was the perfect venue for this magnificent celebration. There were tier seats and a massive grass area for festival goers.
A large dance floor was set up in front of the stage, the surrounding grounds served as an extension of the dance floor. I wonder if the grass has to be re-sodden as a result of the thousands of happy feet that gracefully strutted across it this past Sunday. Jose Cristobal was at the control board of the one’s and two’s, playing tunes as people arrive on the beautiful campus of Loyola Marymount University (LMU).
Cristian Oviedo, Laura Canellias and Joseph Conde are popular, talented dance instructors in Los Angeles. They were present to give free salsa dance lessons for beginners. These lessons were immediately put into practice throughout the day.
The number of people in attendance grew was the day progressed, thanks to the live broadcast of the festival, social media, as well as old fashioned telephone calls. The Fahrenheit of Lawton Plaza continued to rise also as the day progressed, as a result of the spicy Latin rhythms that was heard throughout the campus.
The live entertainment portion of the program got under way with the great conguero Jose “Perico” Hernandez Y Son de la Tierra. The party was officially on as the group performed “Chan Chan,” “El Paso de Encarnacion,” “Cuarto de Tula,” and “Chambolena” with “Perico” stretching out on an extended solo. Check out the movie “CHEF” in theaters or movies on demand (Netflix, Redbox, etc). Jose “Perico” Hernandez is featured in this hilarious Foodie movie. Make sure that you eat something before watching this movie. After you view the movie you will understand why.
The show continued with the talented group of university students, Cal State LA Afro Latin Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Paul De Castro. Calixto Oviedo was the special guest with this group. Salseros the world over, know Mr. Calixto Oviedo for his tight, in the pocket, Latin rhythms, that was the heart beat for NG La Banda, a popular timba group from Cuba. Hopefully, someone recorded their set for a future project, as they shined on the tunes “Descarga Fania,” (Tribute to the Fania All-Stars), “Moliendo Café,” “Odiame,” “El Paso de Encarnacion,” and “Man from Tanganyika.”
The atmosphere was already simmering as the Echo Park Project took the stage to showcased a set of original materials and arrangements on the tunes “Echo Park Project” (theme song), “La Hora de Bailar,” “Devuelve Me El Coco,” and “Rescateme.”
Son Mayor revved up the throttle to the next level. This gig was part of a weekend celebration of their 25th year in Los Angeles. I couldn’t think of a better way to cap off this splendid affair, Son Mayor with a set of salsa dura, Rumba and Changui in front of a huge crowd. Their picante set featured the tunes “Son Mayor” (Lo Que Te Trae Rumbavana), a tribute to Celia Cruz on “Bemba Colora,” and continued with “Changui Guantenamo” and additional tunes to end the fest on a rousing note.
Alma Del Barrio DJ’s and Staff asked the crowd if they wanted the Salsa Fest to become an annual event. The crowd responded in unison with a resounding YES! Don’t forget to tune into the show every Saturday and Sunday, from 6:00AM-6:00PM, on 88.9FM, on the internet, and on the go on your cell phone. Please visit https://www.facbook.com/almadelbarriokxlu88.9fm/photos to view photos from the Alma Del Barrio’s 1st Annual Salsa Fest.