A week on the scene
San Antonio Rose
If you exclude contestants and their families, the Urban Music Festival didn't draw a huge crowd to the basement of La Villita Assembly Hall on Saturday, February 5, but it never lacked for enthusiastic audience response.
In a wildly eclectic talent contest that ranged from pint-sized, nine-year-old rapper Mike B (sporting the requisite basketball jersey, headband, and baggy shorts) to the cool vocal grace of 15-year-old Ashley Dixon (daughter of festival organizer Quinn Dixon, and a non-competitor at the event), most of the drama surrounded the competition in the 13-17 age group. Two 15-year-old female vocalists - dance-pop/R&B chanteuse Jessica Espinoza and guitar-strumming rocker Ashlee Rose - landed in a tie after completing their performances and were summoned back for a tiebreaker sing-off.
Both singers pulled out all the radio-friendly stops - Espinoza executing a flawless near-replica of Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You," while Rose tackled a solo cover of Guns ' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" that was heavily indebted to Sheryl Crow's recording of the tune. Both singer elicited multiple wild ovations from their listeners, but Rose pulled out a narrow victory on the judges' cards.
Celso Piña, "El Rebelde Del Acordeón," combines a working-class sensibility with a poet's heart. An early pioneer in the popular genre of cumbia Colombiana, Piña is currently touring in support of his latest disc, El canto de un Rebelde para un Rebelde, a tribute to martyred revolutionary Ché Guevara.
Ironically, Piña, a native of Monterrey, has never visited the country whose music he helped popularize in Mexico for the better part of two-and-a-half decades. That will change this year when Piña plays at the Festival de Valledúpar, Colombia's celebration of its traditional music. But you don't have to travel that far. You can catch Piña, along with Grupo Massore, for a cumbia doubleheader on Friday, February 11 at Ritmo Latino, 3625 West Avenue. Call 341-0833 for more information...
An international consciousness is also driving a multi-band gathering this weekend at Beethoven Halle (422 Pereida), in the King William Historic District. The concert venue hosts a benefit for victims of the recent South Asian tsunami, with proceeds going to CARE-USA. Featured performers include Stonelar, Molly and the Hatchets, Fluffers Union, Robbie and the Robots, Scotty and the Metaphysics, Exploding Sex Kittens, Lotus, and Too Tall & Oats.
The show is scheduled for Sunday, February 13, from 1-9 p.m. Donations are $5.