What I love about Medellín is its culture and what better time of year to showcase its diversity of music than with the Feria de las Flores.
This annual event isn’t just about celebrating flowers, and with a variety of festivities taking place in August 2014, Negra Noche was just one of the evening events.
Taking place Sunday, August 3 in the Parque de los Piez Descalzos, Negra Noche (translating to “Black Night”) promised an evening of international artists, and was just the beginning of a week’s worth of evening entertainment at the Parque Cultural Nocturno.
World Music was to follow Monday night, a Night of Humor on Tuesday, Son and Bolero that Thursday and the festivities closing on Friday with Tropical Night – an evening of Cuban salsa, bolero and merengue classics.
Being free to the public, I couldn’t resist making the most of this open-air concert and went along to check out the evening’s entertainment.
It was a Sunday night yet that didn’t stop the paisas from coming out and having fun. The night just wouldn’t be Colombian if it didn’t begin with some salsa dancing.
Bamburazo, a local singer from Medellín, started the evening with some Latin American folklore, to the delight of the paisas who were out of their seats and wiggling their hips to their favorite music.
The music couldn’t have been more diverse, as an hour later saw Caribbean-born Elkin Robinson, a singer-songwriter from the Colombian island of Old Providence, playing Afro-Caribbean music. Known as “the new voice of Providencia” he definitely made his mark.
Only ever seeing Colombians dancing in the bars and streets to salsa, bachata or reggaeton, it was refreshing to see them so open to other genres and as the reggae beats blasted across the floor, the crowd were up and dancing, especially to the rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.”
Then the ambience changed as Chicago-born, Richard “Rip Lee” Pryor took to the stage with his rhythmic blues, as the crowd took their seats to listen to the sounds of the harmonica.
No stranger to touring South America, it seems that the blues are in his DNA as his father, Snooky Pryor is another renowned blues musician. For music not that well-known in Colombia, “Rip Lee” certainly seemed to capture the crowd.
Then we were transported back to South America as a four-piece Peruvian band called Novalima took to the stage with their Afro-Peruvian sounds; a mix of Latino beats with bursts of electronica.
Known for their influences from other genres (reggae, hip hop and afrobeat), they are that big in Latin America that their third album was nominated for a Latin Grammy.
The paisas partied on until the evening ended and after the last song of the night had played, I walked away with aching feet, new sounds to listen to, and a new appreciation for the city. It’s not all about the flowers…
Here’s a snapshot of the evening’s festivities:
Although this event was held for the Feria de las Flores, Medellín holds other open-air gigs which are also usually free. The events here are so organized, you don’t even need to step away from your seat as people selling snacks and beer come to you.
I even went back for the finale, Tropical Noche, which although the heavens opened, did not deter the resilient paisas who stayed and danced in the rain. You’ve got to love Medellín.