May 2006: For Those About to Rock/Samba/Flamenco/Jazz, We Salute You

mayIf you’re reading this anytime after the 6th of May, chances are you’ve missed out. Big Time. That’s the date for this year’s Xela Music Festival, organized by the Aliance Francaise and sponsored by a variety of local businesses.

This year’s kind of special – it marks the 25th anniversary since the first such festival was held in France, with the idea of promoting awareness of the diversity and strength of the local music scene.

The idea spread quickly, first through Europe, but now, every year at around this time, similar events are held everywhere from Africa to our very own Quetzaltenango.

The festival first came to Xela three years ago and was pretty much an instant success. But then, how could a series of free, open air concerts fail?

Quetzaltenango is often called Guatemala’s “cradle of culture”, but the irony operating here is that precious few venues offer space for live musician to perform, and those that do seem to stick to a fairly rigid selection of styles.

The festival seeks to rectify the situation by throwing open its arms to musicians from all over the country and abroad, playing a variety of styles. This year there’ll be over 25 groups participating, playing everything from marimba to cumbia to rock in K’iche’ to punk. The majority of acts are from Xela, which begs the question: where do these guys play the rest of the year?

The Xela Music Festival kicks off with a parade from Central Park at 3pm. Bands will be playing along 14 Av “A”, 1 Calle (both of which will be blocked off for the day) and inside the Municipal Theater.

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