Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is the nation’s largest literary festival is one for the history books. It is hard to believe that this was the 23rd installment, held April 21-22 on the beautifully maintained campus of the University of Southern California.
The Festival of Books featured a plethora of authors, over 500 to be exact, celebrities, musicians, artists and chefs.The Festival of Books was free and opened to the public. Festival attendees also had the opportunity to purchase Festival Passes-this provided advance reservations for up to 20 conversations.
Los Cambalache presented an entertaining, interactive set of Son Jaracho for the kids. The program consisted of Los Animales en el Son Jaracho/Fandango! This special concert, a multicultural children’s performance was presented by LA Libreria. Children and their parents were thoroughly engaged with their opening tune “Siquisiri.” The party atmosphere went up a notch during “El Fandango.” They continued with “Gallo” with the kids imitating a gallo (rooster). Additional highlights of their set was “Buscapie La Percussion,” followed by “Conejo” (rabbit), Iguana D.” There was a pause for the cause, as Cesar explained to the crowd how the various instruments are made and how long is the process. The fun continued on “Guacamaya” with lots of crowd participation (dancing
and singing). Los Cambalache concluded their set with a rousing version of “La Bamba.”
The Blue Agave is the brainchild of renowned studio guitarist and USC popular music instructor Andy Abad and Latin Grammy nominated vocalist and guitarist Stephanie Amaro. They delivered a set of Latin classics with a dark, surf twist. Their captivating set consisted of the tunes “Besame Mucho,” “El Gavilan,” “Historia de un Amor,” “Veredan la Tropical” and the popular tune “Malaguena.”
The heat was on during the final performance of the festival. A dash of picante sauce was also added to the mix for good measure during the set by USC Thornton Afro-Latin American Jazz Ensemble (ALAJE). This talented group performed a great set of Afro-Cuban music with a jazz sensibility. ALAJE focuses on the rhythmic traditions
of Latin America, with an emphasis on the music of Brazil and Cuba. ALAJE is a favorite at cultural events and festivals throughout Southern California. The group has evolved into a “little big band” showcasing student arranged music. This tight ensemble is led by faculty director Aaron Serfaty.
This post serves as a reminder that it is time to dust off your salsa dancing shoes in preparation for the upcoming outdoor concert series as well as the festival season in beautiful Southern California.