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So I finally headed out to the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, where the Latin Alternative Music Conference's headquarters are stationed. At the showroom, you are inundated with an array of products ranging from Gibson Guitars to Microsoft's Zune, which is trying to beat the iPod in its own game.

There are also the trademark free condoms, Latino publications, labels and of course the presence of various artists who were looking to get some press time. I arrived shortly before the Midem cocktail party (at 1 PM!), where professionals of various areas schmoozed and exchanged business cards while enjoying a glass of wine or two.

During the party I met with Andres Martinez, from the Colombia-born electronic band Monareta (http://www.myspace.com/monareta), who has been a steady participant in the Latin alternative movement since its inception about 8 years ago. They do not have any concerts planned for the festival, but Martinez has been happy enough to spread the word about their new disc on the Nacional label, La Bonanza. He spoke about the event and about his upcoming plans.

“You get to meet a lot of professionals in the area, from musicians to journalists and managers from the music industry, it's a great opportunity to find work, to make contacts, to network and make friends in i different cities,” he explained, “because of the independence taking place today in the Latin Alternative area, it's really important to have contacts, to make different shows and to unite and make exchanges in this kinds of festivals in other countries, like the one that's happening in Mexico in September and the last one in Argentina, it's a really strong festival and it's really important for all the Latin Alternative bands.

He also told us about the group's new plans: “We're working on a new album that is called La Bonanza, so right now we're trying to tour around Latin America, we were touring one month ago in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco with the idea of promoting the album, so we have a tour in Colombia and later in Mexico and in December we're coming again to the United States.”

They are not limited to the Hispanic/US market, though, and have even considered venturing into Brazil, which is considered by many a hostile market for Spanish-language groups. “We met with a Brazilian artist called DJ Dolores, and we are trying to make arrangements, and trying to find distribution. Actually, we were in contact from the people in Noiselab in Mexico, and maybe we can get one of the albums released there (in Brazil)through them.”

Tonight we head out to Celebrate Brooklyn for the second of three free concerts in the city. Looking forward to seeing Spain's The Pinker Tones, who successfully blend acoustic and electronic elements into one package. -- Ernest Barteldes

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