I WAS THERE . . . Juana Molina & Curumin @ Summer Stage, 7.8.09

Juana Molina performs her heart out at Summerstage
Photo by Houari B.

One of the many celebrations being supported during the week of the 10th Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC), this free show in picturesque Central Park had a distinctly energetically laid back vibe. The summer evening was just beautiful, a cooling breeze washing over the multi-ethnic concert goers, as members of the conference greeted one another while groovy tunes from El G, a local DJ, floated amongst the crowd.

A patchwork quilt of blankets laid out, fire flies (or lightning bugs for you East Coasters) twinkled throughout the night, flitting amongst the relaxing crowd as the setting sun painted the sky in pinks and purples.

Curumin was first up and if you haven’t sampled this multi-instrumentalist multi-linguist’s brand of electronic afro-Brazilian grooves that can easily kick up into Bossa Nova territory or down into dub beat covers, I highly recommend him.

Singing in his native Portuguese as well as English and Spanish, I was blown away at the funky rhythms his three-piece combo put out. First keeping the beat on the drums, joined by a bassist and a synthesizer, the laid back dude sang the whole time, even as he switched over to guitar. The crowd was totally into the mellowness, a social atmosphere pervading the scene as people mingled and talked.

For a very thoughtful and respectful finale’ Curumin played a Dub cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” getting the crowd to sing along and just spread some good vibes to honor the recently departed.

Juana Molina was a surprise to me, as she created impressive soundscapes over tight drums and steady basslines using her voice and a sparsely played guitar. Using her own keyboard and synthesizer to loop her powerful and impressively ranged voice, the layered ambient feel was only heightened as her voice rang out in lyricless tunes. The solo performance at the end of the set was my favorite part, her ability to play guitar and meld a very traditional Argentinean sound with electronic loops and wandering melodies was truly enjoyable. If you like ambient music, check her out.

Kenneth Joachim

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