My favorite Gang Starr song EVER is Mass Appeal…

image via hypetrak

… and the DJ for the late MC Guru, DJ Premier, will be in my neighborhood at APT78 this Wednesday! Meet me there.

Details via Zaida Grunes, one of the masters of Uptown NYC hyperlocal happenings, here.

And, of course, here is my jam!

The ‘CounterCulture’ of the Latin Alternative Music Conference

Image via Latin Recap.

My first time at the Latin Alternative Music Conference was enlightening.

I’ve always liked music that falls into this category, and it’s interesting to see it evolve. Where years ago this conference would have filled with Rock en español, this year’s artists encompass a variety of genres: electronic, indie pop and so on. NYC-based writer Marlon Bishop explains more about that here.

And, as the Associated Press’ Laura Wides Munoz explains in this piece, “alternative Latin musicians, some of whom have fan bases back home, are finding new audiences in the United States thanks in part to that online scene and the growth of second generation Latino audiences.” This only points to more growth in this area.

The panel discussions were enlightening. Calle 13’s Residente and Visitante discussed politics, religion and how Latin America on a whole inspires their music. They weren’t shy about throwing digs at tropical, urban radio stations, who play “music with botox” and the same artists, over and over again.

The LAMC press room was a flurry of activity on day one, with artists from Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama via Oakland and more chatted with journalists from all over. It was nice to see so many Latin American focused outlets in one place, especially since many of them no longer limit their interviews to Spanish-language only, something I find to be challenging when pitching Outernational.

The radio panel, featuring my Fordham colleague Rita Houston from WFUV, was informative and I loved that during the audience Q & A, artists from the States, Costa Rica, and Colombia asked how to overcome the radio hurdle. Most of the experts agreed: find your niche, send your music to college radio and just get your music out there to the people any which way you can.

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(Above: Residente & Visitante of Calle 13, Tego Calderon, Raka Dun and Raka Rich of Los Rakas and Miles Solay & Leo Mintek of Outernational. All pics by me.)

The four-day conference continued today with panel discussions on how to make that number one hit and a free concert by Calle 13 and Ana Tijoux for Celebrate Brooklyn! this evening at the Prospect Park bandshell.

I’ll have a couple of posts about LAMC coming out soon in Sounds and Colours so stay tuned.

I had a bad day. I had a good day.

I only slept one hour last night. Allergies, itchy throat and a dry cough kept me up. That was bad.

My monthly Metropass ran out. The machines at 169th weren’t accepting cash OR credit. That was infuriating.

I had to walk four blocks, find a business to give me change for a $20 and see a snotty attendant. I’m not going to call that bad because her job sucks. I’m sure she had a bad day.

I was 40 minutes late to work. (Not good. Yet I commute to a job that I truly enjoy and have a boss that understands I don’t just work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday: good.)

At work, my colleague told me that my tweet about the MTA’s incompetent machines made it onto Gothamist. That was pretty good.

Then a reporter with a major daily newspaper in the Philadelphia area agreed to talk to one of my Fordham professors on an interesting story. My day was looking up. We’ll see if she quotes him. That would be good.

Later, I sent a gentle email nudging an editor about a story I had been pitching him on for weeks was going to make it into Rolling Stone. It did. This was extremely good.

Then I went to the gym (good) and later dropped the belt of my sweater in the toilet (bad.)

I washed it (meh) and returned to my office, where I worked until 7 p.m. (good, trust me. It’s good to be busy.)

“Drunk as hell but no throwin up
Half way home and my pager still blowin up
Today I didn’t even have to use my A.K.
I got to say it was a good day (shit!)”

‘Los Musicos de la Verdad’ Keep Joe Arroyo’s Music Alive

Photo by Gina Vergel

My parents came to the United States in 1970 and one thing my father NEVER left behind was his love of music from Colombia’s coastal city, Barranquilla. Growing up, the music of the great Joe Arroyo y La Verdad blared in the house on weekends. I can’t listen to “El Joe” and not move. It’s in my soul.

I’ve interviewed some amazing people throughout my journalism career but chatting with members of Arroyo’s former band, La Verdad, while in Colombia this past year has to be near the top of the list. I met them during the Carnival of Barranquilla in February 2012, the first since Arroyo’s passing and one that was dedicated to him.

These guys have no plans of stopping playing Arroyo’s famously Caribbean hits. Read on…

Via Sounds and Colours (UK):

The important business of keeping the legacy of Colombian music great Joe Arroyo alive was never the subject of debate for his backing band, now on their own as Los Musicos de La Verdad.

When asked why they chose to form a “new” band, they shot me puzzling looks.

For these musicians, sitting around waiting for family members involved with Arroyo’s estate to settle a dispute over matters including band name rights was not an option, said vocalist Niber Velasquez.

“Playing music — his music, which many of us participated in co-authoring – is what we do,” said Velasquez, one of three vocalists in the group. “We can’t picture not playing this music.”

Read more here.