La Feria de las Flores – Musically a Great Time to Visit Medellin

La Feria de las Flores (Flower Fair) in August is a good time of the year to visit Medellin. If for no other reason, for the fantastic live music you can find at Parque Cultural Nocturno. 

Medellin With La Feria de las Flores

La Feria de las Flores is 10 days.  During that time you can if you want, find the national Trova competition (traditional music where singers duel in improvised verses) –Cabaret ReggaetonPop concerts – Orchestras – + so much more in lots of different locations/venues in and around Medellin.

I’m sure all of those things were great. But I went to none of them :).

I was mostly at Parque Cultural Nocturno (Cultural Night Park) – a program of free outdoor concerts at Parque de los Pies Descalzos.

Parque Cultural Nocturno 

Night 1 of Parque Cultural Nocturno is ‘Negra Noche’ (Black Night).

Night 2 is ‘Musicas del Mundo’ (World Music).

Troker & two awesome Emcees @ Musicas del Mundo whose names I unfortunately don't know - but if anyone else does, please let me know!

Troker (Mexico) with guest Emcees @ Musicas del Mundo

Night 3 is ‘Noche de Humor’ (Humour Night).

Night 4 is ‘Noche Tropical’ (Tropical Night).

Each of those Parque Cultural Nocturno events is a great environment for listening, dancing to, and appreciating live, and often incredible Colombian and international music.

  • It’s an open-air venue – under beautiful, clear Medellin night skies.
  • Stage visibility is good for the tiered venue layout.
  • Quality sound and lighting .
  • Lots of seating (granny am I).
  • Sensible program times 🙂 (granny I am I tell you) – 6.00 pm til midnight (finishing the same time Jamaican events start!).
  • Restaurants and basic bars to nourish yourself.
  • Family friendly – with a play area for kids. This venue is not a ‘punto libre’ (a location immune from police harassment for smoking a spliff:).

Most importantly at Parque Cultural Nocturno –  you are there amongst a friendly, music loving, artist appreciating group of people.

Emcees regularly remind the crowd about creating a secure, friendly, clean and respectful space for everyone to enjoy music in together.  All the people in the crowd agree. They create and enjoy that healthy space together – along with the emcees and artists on stage of course.

Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Las Alegres Ambulancias-Negra Noche

If you get to Medellin when La Feria De Las Flores and Parque Cultural Nocturno are on in August, you’re pretty sure to find some incredible Colombian & international artists for your listening and dancing pleasure.  I did this year, and last year too.

Medellin Without Parque Cultural Nocturno

I don’t know what goes on musically in Medellin during the rest of the year when La Feria de las Flores isn’t on.

My time in Medellin looking for musical experiences away from Parque Cultural Nocturno wasn’t very fruitful:

  • visits to Medellin music stores turned up almost no contemporary local music;
  • my attempts to find cool nightlife I’m into failed;
  • asking lots of Medellin folk about where to find live music got me nowhere much.

There must be good stuff happening in the Medellin music scene during the rest of the year? Si? No? Maybe I spoke to the wrong people?  Went to the wrong places? Wasn’t looking hard enough because Parque Cultural Nocturno was there?

If someone knows about other good times to visit Medellin for live music and festivals, please let me know!  If not I’ll just keep my Medellin visits for La Feria De Las Flores where I know I’ll find live musical goodness at Parque Cultural Nocturno.

Troker @ Musicas del Mundo

Troker @ Musicas del Mundo

Quite apart from La Feria de las Flores and its music, there are lots of good reasons to visit Medellin at any time of year by the way. One is Los Paises – the super friendly & ever-so-proud-of-Medellin (especially over Bogota) people. Another is the glorious all-year-round Spring climate and the beautiful, vivid colours it creates in nature and people.

Medellin - La Feria de las Flores - Beaver on the Beats

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Troker de Mexico – Horns Heaven

I was in horns heaven at the Troker gig on Monday night at Parque Nocturnal – part of the concert program for La Feria de Las Flores 2013 (Flower Fair) in Medellin, Colombia. Troker live concert - Medellin, Colombia

One saxophone player (“El Tiburon” Santillanes) & one trumpet player (Chemin Santillanes) – both miked – blowing their horns front and centre stage in place of a vocalist.

Troker live concert - Medellin, Colombia

Crazy good horn lines – and shit hot players with them, all with a really fun & energetic stage presence.

The horns are nearly always my favourite sound in any music. And of all the music genres in the world in which would you find the most horns?  In instrumental jazz, I think.  In other non-jazz music the horns might be there, but usually there’s a vocalist too.

Troker don’t have a vocalist.  The music isn’t straight jazz. But the horns are a key focus. That is one of the reasons I think this band is super special.

They’re a fusion music band from Mexico. The music is a mix of the flavours of jazz, funk, cumbia and rock.

It is such an incredible delight to hear fusion music where the horns are in focus.

Troker live concert - Medellin, Colombia

The other band members were equally as great as the horn players:  Samo Gonzalez on double & electric bass – Christian Jimenez on keys – Frankie Mares on drum kit (who very cooly, reminded me of ‘Animal’, the mad drummer from the Muppets) – & DJ Zero on beats and turntables.

Troker @ Parque Nocturnal, La Feria de las Flores 2013, Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

There are so many beloved things about Troker’s La Feria de las Flores show.

This band played some of the most interesting  jazz & groove based fusion music I’ve heard in a very long time. The absence of vocals was refreshing and yes those crazy horns in their place was special. The bass, drums and keys all had varied, unconventional, unique sounds. And the turntable sounds sounds in the mix made it that much more delightful.

Troker @ Parque Nocturnal, La Feria de las Flores 2013, Medellin - Beaver on the Beats10

Amongst the at-times crazy-ass sound frenzy that was happening in some Troker songs, there were also long, wacky, fantastic solos played by the muss throughout.

Troker @ Parque Nocturnal, La Feria de las Flores 2013, Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsTroker @ Parque Nocturnal, La Feria de las Flores 2013, Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Every Troker member displayed great musicianship and had musical tricks too. My favourite was the trumpet-scratch mimicking sequences between these two.

Troker concert - Medellin, Colombia

Short video from Troker’s concert here…. 

I caught a second Troker show on Tuesday night at Medellin venue 3 Cordilleras.tThey supported Esteman and Puerto Candelaria. Troker was almost as good the second time.

Video from Troker’s 3 Cordilleras gig here… 

Troker have one album to find and buy – El Rey del Camino. The band tours a lot so if you get a chance to catch them live, go.

Troker is another special music find from La Feria de las Flores in Medellin.

I’m stoked at the find of Mexican instrumental fusion music! 🙂

Troker de Mexico live concert - Medellin, Colombia

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Zalama Crew – Best New Colombian Fusion Music Find

I was going to give La Feria de las Flores events in Medellin a miss this year.

Changing my mind and going to Sunday’s Negra Noche (‘Black Night’) – part of the Parque Cultural Nocturno program in La Feria de las Flores – was a blessed thing for the three new musical discoveries I made.

1. ZALAMA CREW

One of those new finds is Zalama Crew – my first taste of fusion music from the Colombian city of Cali, and my best new Colombian music find this time around in Colombia.

Zalama Crew live at Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Zalama Crew at La Feria de las Flores

Zalama Crew at Negra Noche were 9 guys:  4 singers/emcees (Dr Rata; Bing; Maik Cel; Osound); Bass (Andres); Guitar (Frank); Drums (Alvaro); DJ CronicVJ Paul Dub.

Zalama Crew - La Negra Noche - 2013 - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Note – nine band members on stage and no live horns (their usual sax/flute player missing) – and I didn’t even notice until it was over.  That’s a good sign.  The music was so  full and engaging that I didn’t miss the live horns like I usually would.

Zalama Crew dub themselves ‘urban world music lovers’ – a good description given the diverse mix of music they create. I heard so many different flavours in the mix – all blended together seamlessly and played with such style – Hip Hop, Electrónica, Jazz, Drum & Bass, Bossa Nova, Cumbia, Punk, Soul/R&B, Salsa, Rock, Dub, Dancehall & Ragga.  I might have forgotten some!

Zalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

The performance of this collective was really energetic and engaging – especially with the individual and combined vocals and raps of the 4 different singers and MCs moving around the stage.

Zalama Crew concert in Medellin, Colombia 2013

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Those singers and MCs + the interesting sounds mixedup by DJ Cronic + the instrumentation &  musicianship of the band  = a really cool mix of diverse and original sounds.

Zalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsZalama Crew live @ Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

I am loving all the VJ’s in the Colombian fusion bands I’ve been catching live – and VJ Paul Dub from Zalama Crew was no exception.  Very cool, interesting, beautiful visuals.

Zalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsZalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

I loved most of the songs Zalama Crew played at Negra Noche – and my body wanted to dance.  There were a couple of the slower songs I was less into, but the performance was still stellar and kept my eyes and ears glued to the stage every moment.

Zalama Crew were simply awesome.

I have Zalama Crew’s EP Everyday Fight to take home with me and check out – but I imagine the live experience of this group is where the most magic is at– like I always hope it will be with any musician.

Short video of Zalama Crew’s show here…

 

On top of my Zalama Crew find – Negra Noche introduced me to 2 other phenomenal bands – 1 fusion band and 1 band as traditional as they come.

2. BIG BAND TENNESSEE JAZZ UNIVERSITY

The Big Band Tennessee Jazz University – a big band from the University of Tennessee in the U.S. – put on an incredible show of funk and jazz music.  The quality of the musicianship was stellar, as was the fun and energetic stage show.

Big Band Jazz Tennessee University @ la Negra Noche de Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Big Band Jazz Tennessee University

Super short video from the end of the Big Band Jazz Tennessee University concert here…

3. LAS ALEGRES AMBULANCIAS

The 3rd phenomenal act I found, closing Negra Noche, was Las Alegres Ambulancias.

Las Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLas Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Las Alegres Ambulancias hail from San Basilio de Palenque, a town on the Colombian Caribbean Coast.  The Palenqueras are special in that they have completely preserved the African traditions and language originaly bought to that region of Colombia with the slaves during the Spanish conquest.

The music of Las Alegres Ambulancias was traditional Palenquera music, pure as they come.

Las Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLas Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLas Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

It was a really special show for me, and everyone else in the audience, especially proud Palenqueras.

Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLa Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

And note Las Alegres Ambulancias’ beautiful female bass player:

Las Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Video of Las Alegres Ambulancias’ show here…

Ever so happy I took myself out to friendly, good vibes, open air Negra Noche to experience 3 incredible shows by 3 special bands new to me.

Zalama Crew + Big Band Tennessee Jazz University + Las Alegres Ambulancias – muchas gracias!

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