To say Miami is the most polyglot metropolis on the planet might be over-hyping our own hyperbole; then again, it just might not. For as polyglot as some of our peers might be, few boast the capacity to put those many languages to as much music with as much muscle and flow as the MIA. Hell, we even out poly the glot when we’re focused on our own hemisphere.
Got doubts? Just check the line-up for the 13th Annual Heineken Transatlantic Festival, which this year features everything from Colombian cumbia (Puerto Candelaria), outer borough Afrobeat (Budos Band and Wild Belle), Chilean soul (Ana Tijoux) and cello-infused modern folk from right here in the Magic City (Bluejay).
Put into play by the worldly wise folks of The Rhythm Foundation, who’ve done more to globalize the sound of our town than anyone ever, Heineken Transatlantic Fest has long been known as something of a singular sensation. That the Fest takes place over multiple days under the moon and the stars of the North Beach Bandshell only makes it more so. To prove the point Culture Designers asked Rhythm Foundation Director Laura Quinlan to preview this year’s edition. Here’s how she filled us in.
For the few who don’t yet know, what exactly is the Heineken Transatlantic Festival?
Heineken TransAtlantic Festival is the Sound of the World Right Now – modern world music from the Atlantic rim, artists who work in the beautiful collision between traditional rhythms and club music. This is the 13th edition of what’s become an April tradition at the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach.
Who all is behind this keen cool endeavor?
The Rhythm Foundation produces Heineken TransAtlantic Festival – it is one of our signature annual events. We are a non-profit cultural foundation based in Miami Beach, and I am very proud to say the City of Miami Beach has just awarded us management of the North Beach Bandshell! We have been working there for years, and now we have a chance to really develop some great programs at this beautiful oceanfront open-air amphitheater. Other partners include of course Heineken, FIAT, and some community partners like New Tropic, Silent Revolution, Prism, Tropicult, Atlantic Broadband and Blend Connection.
Before we cite this year’s line-up, can you please name a few of the most noted acts of past Fests?
We have had such great bands at TransAtlantic! Some of the most popular nights have included Brazilian samba genius Seu Jorge, flamenco chill-out group Chambao, everyone’s favorite Nouvelle Vague, African groups Seun Kuti, Tinariwen, Vieux Farka Toure, Bombino. We love Colombian music, and have had great shows from Aterciopelados, Bomba Estereo, Quantic. The typical TransAtlantic artist is a group who works cross-culturally, like Sidestepper, which is a UK DJ and producer who lives and works in Bogota, or Yerba Buena, the New York City-based Cuban music collective based, who played the very first year.
And who have you got headlining Friday night?
Friday features two great big bands on stage: Medellin Colombia’s Puerto Candelaria, a very cool new cumbia group; and Budos Band, the mighty Afrobeat collective from Staten Island. Pitchfork says Budos are “So tight and in tune that they’ve basically become this telepathically communicating instrumental hydra that ambushes you into moving your body on its terms.”
How bout opening the show?
The night starts with My Deer, a Miami-based group part of the Gummdrops collective. One of the things I love most about TranAtlantic is that we get a chance to feature some great locally-based music. There is also a capoeira ensemble, and some other fun interactive things to animate the Bandshell going on.
Who’s have you tapped to headline Saturday?
Saturday night is going to be so hot! The two headliners are Ana Tijoux and Wild Belle. Tijoux is a Grammy-award winning emcee-singer from Chile who the New York Times called “South America’s answer to Lauren Hill.” Wild Belle is an indie band based in Brooklyn who get the foundation of their sound from their love of afrobeat and classic old school reggae music. They are a brother-sister led group, and besides the great songs, we are all in love with Natalie Bergman’s voice and cool-chick vibe.
And that night’s slate of openers?
Another brother-sister duo – well , it’s actually a trio. Bluejay is a Miami-based group we have been dying to work with. They are indie-folk, one of them plays a cello. Super cool young band.
Isn’t there some kinda post concert action goin’ on as well?
Indeed. After show parties take place just south of the Bandshell, at everyone’s favorite drinking spot, Sandbar Lounge. On Friday night we will have a live performance by Mulder, which is comprised of guys from Million Young and Krisp. And on Saturday the live performance is The Hongs. The aftershow parties are free.
Then the Fest simmers to conclusion on Sunday, no?
We are having the Heineken TransAtlantic Festival closing night party at the Standard Hotel’s Lazy Sunday BBQ. DJ Benton and DJ Mr Brown will be spinning customarily cool sets culled from their incomparably cool collection of vinyl on the most beautiful bayfront deck in town.
Word is there’s also set to be some kinda streaming of the entire three-day affair, that so?
Yes! The Rhythm Foundation has invested in some high quality audio and video streaming equipment and we are live! People who want to see the Festival from anywhere in the world can log in to RhythmFoundation.com and enjoy the show.
If you had but a single sentence to sum up what Miami music fans are in for this weekend, what would it be?
Music fans are in for a heavy-hitting globe-trotting sensory experience, which is to say, your socks are going to be rocked off – preparaté!
The 13th Annual Heineken Transatlantic Festival takes place April 10th-12th on Miami Beach. For more information log on here.
WORDS BY John Hood