Susanna Sharpe and the Samba Police returns to Carnaval Brasileiro

Susanna Sharpe and the Samba Police. Contributed by
Susanna Sharpe and the Samba Police

After more than a decade hiatus, local Brazilian band Susanna Sharpe and the Samba Police will return to perform at Austin’s Carnaval Brasileiro on Feb. 28. The night of revelry, which is expected to have more than 6,000 festivalgoers, begins at 8 p.m. at the Palmer Events Center.

Austin360’s Spanish-language weekly publication, ¡Ahora Sí! interviewed Susanna Sharpe about her Carnaval roots and love of Brazilian music. Susanna Sharpe and the Samba Police will play authentic Brazilian carnaval music.

Reporter Liliana Valenzuela writes about how Sharpe, originally a New Yorker, came to love Latin American music. Valenzuela writes:

(Sharpe) says that when she attended the University of Connecticut, she listened to an LP by Chico Buarque and “the music, the Portuguese language fascinated me…I decided that I had to understand what they were saying.”

Check out Valenzuela’s full interview here.

Carnaval will also feature Austin’s own traditional Rio-style Samba School, the Acadêmicos da Ópera, a locally-based group of 40 drummers and 40 dancers. This year the group, which dones elaborate costumes, will perform a show based on the concept of a circus with a Cirque du Soleil twist.

KELLY WEST / AMERICAN-STATESMAN Carla Bossenbroek wears part of her costume while playing a chocalho  during a rehearsal with Austin Samba School on Friday, February 18, 2015. With only a couple of weeks left until their big Carnaval performance, the group was working out last minute details of the show.
Carla Bossenbroek wears part of her costume while playing a chocalho during a rehearsal with Austin Samba School on Friday, February 18, 2015. With only a couple of weeks left until their big Carnaval performance, the group was working out last minute details of the show.

Check out how the samba school builds community in an Austin360 video by Austin American-Statesman videographer Kelly West:

Carnaval tickets, which range from $38-$45, can be purchased here or at local retailers including Waterloo Records (600 North Lamar), Nelo’s Cycles (8108 Mesa) and Lucy in Disguise (1506 S. Congress).


SXSW announces all-Latino Auditorium Shores show


South by Southwest has announced an all-Latino Auditorium Shores showcase on March 21, as part of SXAméricas. The free show will feature artists Intocable, Bomba Estéreo and Compass.

Tejano/Norteño fusion band, Intocable, is no stranger to Austin. In 2013, the group headlined the Pachanga Latino Music Festival and band vocalist Ricky Muñoz told our Spanish-language weekly ¡Ahora Sí! back then that, “We have Tejano roots, and we have a norteño influence, that is for sure. But I don’t know what you should really call us, other than good music.” The award-winning music veterans are celebrating their 20th anniversary.

SXSW alums Bomba Estéreo return to the festival this year to deliver what’s sure to be a sweaty dance party. The Colombian band exploded in the U.S. when they played at the 2009 Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York City. A mix of hip-hop, folk Colombian sounds, electronica, and reggae, result in dance sounds guaranteed to make hips shake.

An exciting collaboration between Mexico City-based DJ Camilo Lara and DJ Toy Selectah (Control Machete) called Compass will anchor the show.

Auditorium Shores shows, which start at 6 p.m., are open to the public with free Guest Pass wristbands, available in advance or onsite at the event.


Pan Americana, Mexican-American Experience announce fest line-ups

CREDIT: Arnold Wells / FOR AUSTIN360. Celso Piña will perform at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center for the 2015 Pan Americana Festival.
CREDIT: Arnold Wells / FOR AUSTIN360. Celso Piña will perform at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center for the 2015 Pan Americana Festival.

While the crowds descend on downtown Austin during South by Southwest, there are two festivals (Mexican American Experience and Pan Americana Festival) where you can enjoy Tejano and Latin rhythms for free while taking in the city’s awe-inspiring lakeside views and festive atmosphere.

Head to the courtyard of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on March 18-21, where music kicks off at 6 p.m. with the Mexican American Experience festival. Sunny Ozuna and the Sunliners, which was the first Tejano music group to appear on “American Bandstand,” headlines on Wednesday night. Other featured artists that evening include Mariachi Amor, Cañonazo, Street People and Latin Express.

On Thursday, San Antonio native and Tejano music star Chente Barrera wraps up the fest after performances by Tejano Idol contest winner Erica Rangel, Beyond Therapy, Llueve and Baraja de Oro.

The hip-shaking music continues after the Mexican American Experience festival ends and the Pan Americana Festival begins on March 20. Master accordionist and party instigator Celso Piña returns this year to headline Friday night. Nicknamed “El Rebelde del Acordeón” (Accordion Rebel), Piña created a hybrid cumbia sound that incorporated reggae, hip-hop, ska and rock. Also bringing innovative genre-blending sounds will be San Antonio’s Piñata Protest, who play accordion-style punk music.

Monterrey electronic rockers Kinky return to the festival as well, this time headlining Saturday night. Los Masters Plus and Austin’s Cilantro Boombox will also energize the stage.

Here’s the full line-up:

Mexican American Experience

March 18

6 p.m.        Mariachi Amor

7 p.m.         Cañonazo

8 p.m.        Street People

9 p.m.         Latin Express (Ft. Worth)

10 p.m.       Sunny Ozuna and The Sunliners  (San Antonio)

March 19

6 p.m.  Tejano Idol- Erica Rangel

7 p.m.   Beyond Therapy

8 p.m.  Llueve     (Edinburg, TX)

9 p.m.  Baraja de Oro

10 p.m. Chente Barerra (San Antonio)

Pan Americana Festival

March 20
Celso Piña
Master Blaster Sound System
Piñata Protest
Os Alquimistas w/Tita Lima
Jesus Warr

March 21
Los Master Plus
Cilantro Boombox
The Copper Gamins


Latin music at KUTX Map Jam

One of my favorite places in Austin to listen to live music is at the zócalo or courtyard of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. So I was glad that Saturday’s KUTX 98.9’s Map Jam event, which featured nine bands performing at venues throughout the city, included the beautiful space, which means so much to Austin’s Mexican American community.

Many concert-goers said it was their first time there, but I hope not the last. Latin music shined at the event starting with Austin’s Leticia Rodriguez, who wowed the crowd with her upbeat mix of Pan American music. Cultura en Austin interviewed Rodriguez when she launched her EP “Sagüita al Bate.” We also included Rodriguez in the debut Austin Gente video, which explores Latino identity.

Clandestino All-Stars, a local group that began as a Manu Chao tribute band and now performs many hip-shaking grooves, brings together accomplished musicians Michael Ramos (Charanga Cakewalk), Greg Gonzalez (Grupo Fantasma/Brownout), Brian Ramos (Master Blaster Sound System), and Alex Marrero (Brown Sabbath/Ghandaia)

Latin rhythms later rounded out the night at the Historic Scoot Inn with the DJ collective Peligrosa, which recently launched their record label Discos Peligrosa.



Discovering Sounds of Uruguay

Tango musicians perform on Montevideo streets. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz/American-Statesman
Tango musicians perform on Montevideo streets. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz/American-Statesman

After recently taking a musical journey to Montevideo, I discovered Uruguay’s capital city through its live music scene and wrote about in an Austin360 Travel story.  While many travelers skip over the tiny South American country, you’d be surprised at the amount of innovative bands rising from Uruguay.

Music lovers will now get a chance to check out some of the sounds of Uruguay in Austin. South by Southwest 2015 will bring a Uruguayan delegation of musicians to perform at a special showcase on March 18 at Speakeasy.

Here’s a sampling of music from the showcasing artists:


Hip-hop fusion group Santullo:

Pop-rock band Boomerang:

Rap group AFC:

Rock/ska/punk band Once Tiros:

Folk-pop fusion Fede Graña & Los Prolijos:

Vintage pop-rock fusion singer Max Capote:


Bombasta brings big barrio band sound to Austin

Photo contributed by Bombasta
Photo contributed by Bombasta

San Antonio’s cumbia funk band Bombasta has been creating innovative hip-shaking rhythms for more than a decade. Bombasta’s cultural musical mashups have resonated with a generation of music listeners whose influences can’t be contained in one genre. While rooted in Latin American rhythms, the beats of everything from hip-hop to rock stitch together to create what they call a “big barrio band sound.”

And tonight (Feb. 20) they’ll perform in Austin at the Sahara Lounge with local hip-hop/funk/soul outfit Afrofreque.  They’re calling the show an “Eastside Soul Rebel throwdown,” and Austin360 music writers picked this show as one of their Friday picks.

We love that both bands will be mixing it up starting at 10 p.m., alternating sets each hour until the show wraps up at 2 a.m. Here’s the plan:

10:00- Bombasta Set One
11:00- Afrofreque Set One
12:00- Bombasta Set Two
1:00- Afrofreque Set Two

Tickets are $7 at the door. For more information, visit

Music Monday: Irene Diaz’ “I Love You Madly”

Photo by Eric Ibarra
Photo by Eric Ibarra

Cultura en Austin wants you to kick off the work week in style. We present a blog feature called Music Monday, where we highlight new or recent Latin alternative music videos from artists who should be on your radar. We’ll showcase Austin-based musicians as well as those who regularly perform in Austin or will soon.

Artist: Irene Diaz

Song: “I Love You Madly”

Album: “I Love You Madly” EP

Irene Diaz, a rising singer/songwriter pours every drop of emotion into her heartfelt music. Diaz, a South by Southwest and Cactus Cafe alum, has been garnering national attention as a modern day torch singer. She’s performed with Austin’s own Gina Chavez and we hope Diaz returns soon with her first full length album.

For now, check out Diaz’ latest lyric video, which is set to the backdrop of silent film actor/director Buster Keaton’s work. It’s a warm and fuzzy look at relationships and love. Show it to your Valentine.


Catch “The Panza Monologues” on Feb. 5-21

Photo contributed by Alberto Jimenez
Photo contributed by Alberto Jimenez

You’ve heard of “The Vagina Monologues, but what about “The Panza Monologues?” Playwrights Irma Mayorga and Virginia Grise discovered the power of their panzas or bellies about 10 years ago when they began talking to their comadres and community members about their panza stories.

The result was a unique performance piece that brought to life women’s stories of love, life and struggle. We chatted with the  playwrights in our latest Cultura en Austin column about the inspiration behind the work, why it struck a chord with audiences and how after a decade it’s still relevant to a new generation.

Catch the performance, which is also a book now, on Feb. 5-21 at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. Tickets for the performances, which are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m, are $14-$20 and can be purchased here or 30 minutes before showtime at the door.

In addition to the performance, Red Salmon Arts will present a book reading and book signing with Grise on Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. at Resistencia Bookstore (4926 E. Cesar Chavez St., Unit C1). Power to the panza!