Songlines Music Traveller Gareth Richards recently returned from our first trip to Colombia. Here he shares a few of his favourite moments and photos
Colombia is a country with an amazingly vibrant and diverse music scene. And it was well worth going on this Songlines Music Travel trip. Some of my highlights include:
- A couple of introductions into Colombian music presented by Mario Galeano (Ondatropica, Cumbia Freinte) and Lucas Silva (Palenque Records).
- Showcase performances at the Bogotá Music Market (BoMM). Look out for Sango Groove and Canalón de Timbiquí.
- A morning in Medellín with salsa trumpeter Maite Hontelé, followed by a live show that evening featuring her band and Los Hacheros.
- A late night show by champeta star Charles King at the iconic Bazurto Social Club in Cartagena.
- A day at San Basilio de Palenque, founded by escaped slaves as a refuge in the 17th century and still a home of African culture with a remarkable music scene. We enjoyed musical performances by Rafael Cassiani (of Sexteto Tabala) and Justo Valdés (of Son Palenque), and young percussion/hip-hop outfit Kombilesa Mi. Lunch was accompanied by a huge ‘Pico’ sound system playing music by M’bilia Bel from Congo.
- Rootsy percussion and dance in one of Cartagena’s squares by Candela Viva.
We also found time to explore the cities. A real highlight was a visit to Comuna 13 in Medellín – until recently the frontline in drug and gang wars, but now transformed by the community and full of stunning street art and a sense of optimism. And with visits to the ‘La Candelaria’ district of Bogotá, a Cathedral in a salt mine at Zipaquirá and the ‘Aviario Nacional de Colombia’ outside Cartagena, there were plenty of opportunities to get to know other aspects of Colombia as well.
Well worth going!