TransAtlantic Festival celebrates World Music and North Beach
This year’s TransAtlantic world music festival is a celebration of both world music and its North Beach home.
Set for April 8 and 9, the festival is presented by the Rhythm Foundation, which also produces events such as the Big Night in Little Haiti series. The foundation now manages the North Beach Bandshell for the city of Miami Beach.
“The festival this year really cements our role running the bandshell, [which is] our home all year ’round,” said foundation director Laura Quinlan. In addition to the usual lineup of international and local artists on stage, this year’s festival also happens in the neighborhood around the venue. For instance, in Bandshell Park there’s a 200 square foot glass tile mosaic mandala honoring the Beatles’ 1964 arrival in Miami Beach. It will be the site of a sunset raga performance by Rajesh Bhandari and Rajesh Ramoutar.
The work of local visual artists will adorn the bandshell’s LED marquee. Videos will be featured on the North Beach trolley, and one night’s after party will serve as the grand opening of a neighborhood bar.
“It’s a nice way to cement our residency at the bandshell,” Quinlan said. “We’re taking it outside of the box a little bit and we really appreciate the Knight Foundation’s support in doing that.”
The festival’s primary focus remains its bands, of course. This year’s biggest name is Beirut, appearing for the first time in Florida.
Beirut was started 10 years ago by Zach Condon, who decided as a teen-ager to travel Europe rather than attend high school in Albuquerque. He played most of the instruments on the first recording himself, but Friday he’ll perform on trumpet, flugelhorn and ukulele while others play instruments including accordion, melodica, sousaphone and glockenspiel.
“We’re kind of moving into a global indie vibe,” Quinlan said, going on to talk about Troker, a funk-jazz septet from Mexico. “I hear they have a really rocking underground scene in Guadalajara and these guys are the heaviest of the heavy.” Troker too will be making its Florida debut on Friday.
Performing that night as well will be Miami-based Kazoots, which Quinlan described as “an indie-Haitian group.” They’ve played Big Night in Little Haiti.
Saturday’s feature act is New York-based Emefe. Led by Miles Arntzen of Antibalas, it has been described as sounding like a cross between Fela Kuti and Prince. Emefe comes to Miami Beach as part of a tour that began at SXSW.
Also appearing on Saturday are locals Psychic Mirrors, which features lots of electronic instruments, and singer Chantil Dukart, who blends sounds including funk, r&b, and Motown.
The Miami Beach-based Rhythm Foundation, founded in 1988, finally has a home of its own and is excited to share it. “So many festivals are really homogenous and kind of corporate,” she said. “This festival hopefully has a real sense of place. You’ll really know you’re in a unique neighborhood in a unique city.”
The 14th annual TransAtlantic Festival, Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9, at and around the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Performances start at 6 p.m. each night. Admission ranges from $20 for Saturday only to $50 for a festival pass; information and tickets are available at http://www.rhythmfoundation.com/series/transatlantic-festival/