TransAtlantic Festival Creative Mix of Local, International Stars
This year’s TransAtlantic Festival features local dance music stars, a Malian guitarist known as “the Hendrix of the Sahara,” and something unique: a Haitian rara band comprised entirely of women.
Lauded last year by Miami New Times as Best Festival, the two-day event presented by the Rhythm Foundation offers vendors and activities around the North Beach Bandshell in addition to much-anticipated music from the nations of the Atlantic Basin.
This year’s festival opens Friday with homegrown sounds. “The Made in Miami night is a first,” said Rhythm Foundation director Laura Quinlan. Performers include A.C.H.E. — the Afro Cuban House Experiment, featuring DJ Oscar G, Oba Frank Lords and Katiahshe.
Oscar G is cofounder of the dance music label Murk Records. According to Beatport, Lords was introduced to percussion as a 10-year-old by a neighborhood Santero. With vocalist/priestess Katiahshe, the group taps into ache – a Yoruba concept that may be understood as a divine force existing in everything.
“I heard the A.C.H.E. on the radio a few months ago, a live broadcast of their first show, and it blew me away,” said Quinlan. “Of course DJ Oscar G is a big part of the story of music in Miami, as is Oba. It has also been very special to connect with Katiahshe, their singer — she has a great energy.
“They come from the Murk Records family, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, total innovators of Miami’s creative house music scene.”
Also appearing Friday will be the Afro-Cuban rumba group Los Herederos – founded by percussionist and vocalist Philbert Armenteros — and Lazaro Casanova, a fixture on the dance music scene who works with Oscar G.
The festival reached across the water for Saturday’s acts. Quinlan said organizers had a wish list for this year’s performers and one name on it was Sinkane.
The group’s leader, born Ahmed Gallab in London of Sudanese descent, lived with his family in Utah for a time; he now resides in Brooklyn. Among his credits is the Atomic Bomb Supergroup, which included David Byrne, Damon Albarn, and jazz legend Charles Lloyd, among others.
Also performing on Saturday is Vieux Farka Touré, who followed in the footsteps of his late father, the Grammy-winning Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré.
According to Vieux’s website, the two come from a tribe of soldiers. Recalling his struggles with tradition, Ali did not welcome Vieux’s desire to become a musician, but ultimately gave his blessing shortly before his death in 2006. Vieux’s latest album, “Samba,” was released earlier this month.
Saturday’s third act was supposed to have performed at a Big Night in Little Haiti event last fall, but Hurricane Matthew prevented timely processing of visas for the women of Symbi Roots. They play rara, a genre associated with street festivals in Haiti and performed almost exclusively by men.
“I am so proud to be able to present their U.S. debut!” Quinlan said. “Also, the festival comes just after Easter week, and rara is a Lenten tradition, so it really fits with this time of year.”
This is the 15th edition of the TransAtlantic Festival. “The festival began in 2003 as a way to bring young people and club-goers into the cultural programming that Rhythm Foundation does,” Quinlan said. “It has been a great way for us to stay fresh, keep the circle open to new music, new collaborations.”
The TransAtlantic Festival Friday and Saturday, starting at 6: p.m., at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $15 per night or $25 for a two-day pass, available by phone, 305- 672-5202, or http://TransAtlanticFestival. com.