Festival Petronio Álvarez in Cali from August 12th

By - 12 August, 2010

The 13th edition of Festival Petronio Álvares comes to Cali on August 12th until the 16th. This is a truly unique festival highlighting the best music from Colombia’s pacific coast. The festival takes place in Plaza de Toros de Cañaveralejo which, as anyone who understands Spanish will know, translates as a bull ring. Each night musicians will take to the bull ring to play three songs (one of which has to be in 6/8 time), lasting no more than 15 minutes. This is because this festival is less a festival and more a competition. All of the groups are competing to win a prize in their chosen style. The prizes are split into the different traditional and regional styles of the region, as well as there being a ‘free’ section for anything that doesn’t fit – generally the more modern groups. Groups travel from all over the Pacific Coast with many travelling by boat to arrive in Cali. The ‘free’ section will even feature such notable acts as Quantic and His Combo Barbaro and Choc Quib Town this year.

The aim of the festival is to preserve and highlight the musical heritage of this area of Colombia, an area that historically has seen its music deemed as vulgar and not suitable for Colombia’s elite, or even for its middle classes. For his work in raising awareness of this music there will be a special presentation by José Antonio Torres “Gualajo”, master of the marimba de chonta. Gualajo left his town of Cauca in the 80s to take this instrument around the world, where it was generally known as the ‘jungle piano.’ He recorded six albums and constructed marimbas for all kinds of people, despite making very little money for his endeavours. It’s for this that they will be staging a special presentation of his music at the festival.

More info:
Cali’s Tourism page has plenty of information, though it is in Spanish
Keep your eyes peeled to Quantic’s journal page as he will surely be keeping us up-to-date with how his band perform
KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole is also at the event and will be posting updates on the KCRW blog

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