Go South of the Border With These 15 Latinx Acts
Eme AlfonsoWed. 13, Radio Day Stage @ Austin Convention Center, noon; Fri. 15, Parker Jazz Club, 10:35pm
Both of Cuban singer-songwriter Eme Alfonso's parents are founding members of Síntesis, an island institution mixing progressive rock, jazz, and Afro-Cuban rhythms. She joined the band at 14 and explores many of the same themes in her solo work. Third LP Voy offers a lush bed of Brazilian-generated arrangements for Alfonso's voice to soar on.
Combo ChimbitaWed. 13, Container Bar, 2pm; Thu. 14, Cheer Up Charlies, 12:05am; Fri. 15, Scoot Inn, 2pm; Fri. 15, Seven Grand, 12mid
Self-described tropical futurists, Combo Chimbita is a quartet of first-generation Colombians born and raised in NYC. Debut album Abya Yala leans on the ancients while exploring the outer reaches of the galaxies. Heavily rooted in cumbia's low-end theory, the arresting Spanish vocals of Carolina Oliveros cut across punk drums and traditional percussion, psych feedback and Sun Ra-styled freak-outs. Es un trip.
Reyna TropicalWed. 13, Javelina, 9pm; Fri. 15, Las Perlas, 9:35pm
A dream-thump collaboration between Portland guitarist/vocalist Fabi Reyna and Los Angeles producer Sumohair (Nectali Diaz), Reyna Tropical whips up a mesmerizing mezcla of mid-tempo electro grooves while drawing from a deep well of Afro and Latin roots. The Mexican-born duo proved a perfect pairing for Bomba Estéreo's 2018 tour, though how Reyna – founding editor of She Shreds magazine and guitarist for fellow SXSW showcasers Sávila – carved out the time remains a mystery.
Alih Jey & CuñaoWed. 13, Speakeasy, 9pm
Nearly two decades into a Latin rock and pop career, Dominican-born and L.A.-based singer Alih Jey has been nominated for the Latin Grammy for Best Rock Solo Vocal Album and penned a hit for Ricky Martin. Backed by Latin folk combo Cuñao, forthcoming LP Soy De Peña is a radical departure. On these gorgeous and heartfelt Sixties-era covers, Jey pays tribute to her father, Aníbal De Peña, a golden-voiced Dominican cantante and balladeer.
CucoWed. 13, Stubb’s, 1am; Thu. 14, Lustre Pearl, 12mid
A 20-year-old hopeless romantic, L.A. bedroom-soul singer/producer Cuco (Omar Banos) celebrates Chicanx culture and Cali vibes with dreamy, sun-warped love songs. He sounds like a young Chicano Batman protégé on his twee and tender 2017 debut Songs4u and flexes fluent Spanglish on "Lo Que Siento": Sabes bien que te quiero/ And if you're down to spend your summer with me, just let me know/ You know you're my sueño/ You came to my life and now I feel alriiiiiiiight.
Bixiga 70Thu. 14, Flamingo Cantina, 12mid; Sat. 16, Lucille, 11pm
From carnival to candomblé and capoeira, the impact of African culture on Brazil remains all-encompassing. São Paulo 10-piece Bixiga 70 furthers the connection with a stunning South American take on Fela Kuti's Nigerian Afrobeat. No shortage of Fela tribute bands around the world, but few explore as many daring side roads as this one. 2018's Quebra Cabeça is stuffed with jazz chops and funk drops.
SuperfónicosFri. 15, Russian House, 10:15pm; Sun. 17, Palm Door on Sixth, 10:30pm
An Austin eightpiece with deep Colombian roots (five of the members were born in Colombia or are first-generation Americans), Superfónicos stirs funk, cumbia, merengue, psych-rock, Afrobeat, and hip-hop into a thrilling brew on recent debut EP Suelta. Frontman Jaime Ospina holds court on the gaita, a traditional Colombian flute that juxtaposes beautifully with saxophone and swirling electric guitar licks.
Lizbeth Román y Los Duendes InvisiblesFri. 15, Speakeasy, 11pm
Strumming an acoustic guitar, Puerto Rico's Lizbeth Román belts out bohemian boleros with a remarkably rich and smoky tone. The relative newcomer has yet to release an album but recently performed for a massive stadium crowd, opening for Puerto Rican pop star Kany García in San Juan.
Zona TangoSat. 16, Elephant Room, 12mid
If the folk fusion of Buenos Aires trio Zona Tango encapsulates the electro-chill coffeehouse vibes of the mid-Aughts, it's because they practically invented them. Aided by a bed of synths and looping beats, the Argentine group is simply a killer jazz ensemble led by renowned composer and multi-instrumentalist Pedro Menendez. Now 15 years removed from their debut, 2016's Electro Pampa travels beyond bossa nova and tango to explore the folk sounds of Argentina's provincial plains.
MORE SPANISH SPEAKERS
MundakaWed. 13, Speakeasy Kabaret, 12:30am
Dreamy, surf-inspired dream-pop quartet from Lima, Peru.
La Mojarra ElectricaWed. 13, Half Step, 1am; Thu. 14, International Day Stage @ ACC, 1pm; Thu. 14, Speakeasy, 12mid
Colombian 12-piece dishes a joyful, modern take on classic salsa, bullerengue, y más.
Xenia FrançaThu. 14, International Day Stage @ Austin Convention Center, 3pm; Sat. 16, Lucille, 9pm
Celebrating womanhood and Brazil's deep African roots, Bahian singer Xenia França's compositions are as artful as they are intoxicating.
Los Gaiteros de OvejasThu. 14, Speakeasy, 11pm
Knotting up hand percussion and gaita flutes, these traditionalists from the interior Caribbean coast of Colombia have kept the roots of cumbia alive for three decades.
Sonámbulo PsicotropicalFri. 15, Flamingo Cantina, 12mid; Sat. 16, Russian House, 11:25pm
Self-described "psycho-tropical" Costa Rican sleepwalkers offer an infectious, upbeat mix of funk, cumbia, rumbia, et al.
Dos SantosSat. 16, Speakeasy, 11:20pm
Chicago quintet melds jazz with Peruvian chicha and other diasporic rhythms with (mostly) Spanish-language vocals.