Andres Levin is a very busy man. He's currently scoring a film and a television show, and he's knee-deep in producing a Brazilian jazz album. Besides those projects, Levin is about to bring his increasingly popular band Yerba Buena back to rock Miami. The seven-member group is hitting the road to support its latest album, a breezy ode to Manhattan called Island Life. Yerba Buena's unique sound is like a spicy gumbo or sancoche, a simmering stew with a list of ingredients as long as your arm. Elements of cumbia, calypso, son, Afro-Cuban funk, and boogaloo combine with flamenco sensibilities, bouncing reggaeton bass, and hip-hop attitude in an irresistibly buoyant symphony.
"I usually don't like to limit it to a genre; I like to let the people describe it for us. There is a nice term I saw recently in a book, called funklore. We're basically very urban dance music, with comedy," Levin laughs. Many of the songs on the new album will make listeners smile. John Leguizamo makes a hilarious cameo on the street-corner Romeo's anthem "Sugar Daddy." The song "Bla, Bla, Bla" finds sound clips of Dubya making campaign promises in stilted Spanish, accompanied by the lush chorus "What you talking about? It's all bullshit coming out of your mouth." Yerba Buena's live show is like a wild, multiculti celebration both onstage and in the audience. In time, Levin hopes to make his party even more diverse: "If I had my way, I would bring 30 musicians on the road. The tuba, the theremin, the violin, the pedal steel, the accordion, the harp, and the Turkish percussionists would all come on tour with us. That would be my ideal band. Kind of like the Cirque du Soleil of music." Levin wants to welcome everyone to the Yerba Buena dance fest tonight. "Probably our Miami shows are some of the best. Come out to party and sweat, and leave with a new wife or husband and some new inspiration," beckons the talented band leader.