The British Invasión

As DJ and co-founder of the band Sidestepper, Richard Blair didn't just embrace Colombian music — he went native

The concept has landed Sidestepper a loyal following in places like California and Miami, and not just among the Spanish-speakers who can pick up on catchy phrases like "Hoy tenemos, mañana no sabemos" ("We have today, we don't know about tomorrow"). Blair credits Benavides for developing what he calls an ironic "post-attitude" in spite of language barriers. "With two or three words he can convey all this humor. Words fall nicely with the melodies he writes," Blair explains. "It's a dance band, we just need the flavors."

In turn, Blair's Colombian bandmates credit him with revamping their nation's musical image overseas, by serving as kind of a musical ambassador. Blair was the mastermind producer behind the 2005 self-titled album by Andrea Echeverri, front woman for legendary Colombian rock band Aterciopelados. Benavides, meanwhile, is so busy as a producer and composer for his own electrocumbe band, Bloque, that he barely has time to tour with Sidestepper.

Sidestepper's invitation to this year's Coachella Music Festival put it on the same bill as the Pixies, Radiohead, and the Cure. The band, in fact, got wedged onto a side stage during the Cure's performance. No matter.

Sidestepper's Blair and Vives: Talking fusion over a spot of tea
Sidestepper's Blair and Vives: Talking fusion over a spot of tea


Sidestepper performs with special guests Lanzallamas Monofonica on Friday, May 18, at 7:00 p.m. at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at

"When we got back to Colombia, we literally went on the evening news to talk about our experience. They can see that there's a Colombian band that's proving that Colombia is more than guns and violence," Blair says.

With the new Sidestepper album Buena Vibra Soundsystem arriving in the U.S. this summer, a slew of recording projects underway with international artists, and tentative plans to establish a monthly residence in Miami, Blair seems to have found his place in the world. But what most enchants him is the way he's been adopted into Colombia as a kind of honorary citizen.

"Now we're referred to in Colombia not as an international band, but as a local one. There's a great deal of affection; people are genuinely grateful," he notes. "There's nothing I love doing better than being onstage with this band."

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