North Beach will be all about the international this weekend. The 15th TransAtlantic Festival will offer everything from a Malian guitarist known as “the Hendrix of the Sahara” to an all-female band that plays the Haitian Easter/festival music called rara.
The two-day event, which New Times named Best Festival in 2016, is presented by the Rhythm Foundation and will take place at the North Beach Bandshell. It will open Friday with homegrown sounds. “The Made in Miami night is a first,” Rhythm Foundation director Laura Quinlan says. Performers include ACHÉ — the Afro-Cuban House Experiment — featuring DJ Oscar G, Oba Frank Lords, and Katiahshe.
Lords is one of the most interesting entertainers. At the age of 10, he was introduced to percussion by a neighborhood santero, according to Beatport. With vocalist/priestess Katiahshe, the group taps into ache, a Yoruba concept that can be understood as a divine force existing in everything.
They are part of Murk Records, which Oscar G cofounded and is celebrating its 25th anniversary. "Katiahshe... has a great energy," Quinlan says.
Also appearing Friday will be the Afro-Cuban rumba group Los Herederos — founded by percussionist and vocalist Philbert Armenteros — and Lazaro Casanova, a fixture on the dance music scene who works with Oscar G.
The festival reaches across the Atlantic for Saturday's act Sinkane. The group’s leader, born Ahmed Gallab in London of Sudanese descent, lived with his family in Utah for a time; he now resides in Brooklyn. Among his credits is the Atomic Bomb Supergroup, which included David Byrne, Damon Albarn, and jazz legend Charles Lloyd.
Also performing Saturday is Vieux Farka Touré, following in the footsteps of his late father, the Grammy-winning Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré. They come from a tribe of soldiers. Vieux’s latest album, Samba, was released earlier this month.
Saturday’s third act, Symbi Roots, was slated to perform at last fall's Big Night in Little Haiti, but Hurricane Matthew had other plans. The all-female group plays rara, a genre associated with street festivals in Haiti and performed almost exclusively by men. “I am so proud to be able to present their U.S. debut! Rara is a Lenten tradition, so it really fits with this time of year," Quinlan says.
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“The festival has been a great way for us to stay fresh and keep the circle open to new music, new collaborations.”
– Tracy Fields, artburstmiami.com
TransAtlantic Festival 2017
6 p.m. Friday, April 21, and Saturday, April 22, at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-5202; northbeachbandshell.com. Tickets cost $15 to $25 via rhythmfoundation.com.