This Saturday, downtown Miami's Bayfront Park will be draped in yellow, blue, and red to host an equally colorful music festival: MegaRumba Colombia. With Miami being home to the largest population of Colombian expats, the inaugural event aims to provide an authentic celebration of Colombian Independence Day (officially observed July 20).
The festival will boast a strong lineup of Colombian stars, including Latin Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Fonseca and 2013's Best New Artist, Maluma. Also in attendance will be one of that country's most iconic and revered groups: Binomio de Oro.
Led by Israel Romero and his signature accordion, Binomio de Oro is a Colombian institution. Founded in the city of Barranquilla by Romero and lead singer Rafael Orozco in 1976, the duo pioneered the vallenato sound, a combination of romantic folk and Caribbean music. After Orozco's murder in 1992, the band soldiered on with a variety of musicians and singers, continuing a remarkable run of success.
Currently, Binomio de Oro is experiencing a youth movement spearheaded by Romero's son, Israel David. The group's fresh sound is evidenced by songs like "Quédate Conmigo" and "Rápidamente," the latter of which has a video featuring bikini-clad women frolicking with the bandmates on yachts in a picturesque bay. Along with the band's other two vocalists — Jonathan Jaraba and Deiner Bayona — Israel David, a singer, songwriter, and producer for the band, is helping to shape the future of a group that next year will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
Note: The following conversation is translated from Spanish.
New Times: What's it like to be in a band with your father?
Israel David: It is an honor. I am very proud of that. Not all children have the opportunity to share that with their father. In my house, we did. We've shared a lot, spent a lot of time together. I enjoy very much that he's in charge. He's the best boss in the world, even though he's tougher on me because I'm his son. It falls on me to be more disciplined, to have more responsibility. But the experience is marvelous. I thank God to be able to do what I do, to be able to make music with my father.
Do you think one day you'll take over the family business?
Yes, that's the idea. The idea is to continue with the legacy created by my father, my grandfather, all of my family, to continue that legacy for many years.
Binomio de Oro has been around 39 years, and since the death of Rafael, the band has had many singers and remained very successful. To what do you owe that success?
Well, the main reason is Binomio has always maintained itself at the vanguard. Also, we've always had great talent in the group. My father has certain criteria for people to join, and he's come across very good professionals. It has sustained the quality of music, with lyrics that reach the heart and melodies that reach the soul.
There will be no shortage of Colombian culture, music, and food at Bayfront Park.
Photo by Martin St-Amant via Wikipedia Commons
What do you think it says about Colombians and the love of their country that they can celebrate their independence day 1,500 miles from home?
In Colombia, there's a very strong patriotic spirit, which I really like because they celebrate not only in the United States but also all around the world. Colombians who live outside the country celebrate it with a lot of pride. For us, it's a very special day.
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And the last question, you may not like it: What did you think of Colombia's less than stellar performance at the Copa América?
[Laughs] Well, they did what they could. The truth is, the players weren't as connected as they were in the World Cup, but also, we're not walking away dissatisfied. They're a good group of guys, and each one of them, individually, is a star outside of national team play, and it just didn't work out this time. But we're still proud of them. They're warriors who in the past have led Colombia in victorious songs. As we say in Colombia: We're behind the team for better or for worse. Right now, we're stuck with the worse, but any moment, it could get better.
MegaRumba Colombia with Fonseca, Malumo, Binomio de Oro and more. 2 p.m. To 12 a.m. Saturday, July 18, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-358-7550; megarumbacolombia.com. Tickets cost $25 to $150 plus fees via eventbrite.com.