¡ESSO! AFROJAM FUNKBEAT
¡ESSO! Afrojam Funkbeat is a dynamic musical ensemble formed in Chicago in 2013. They perform a variety of roots rock inspired dance music from North, Central, and South America, as well as the Caribbean Islands. The ethnically diverse musicians establish energizing polyrhythmic grooves and combine biting twang guitars, thumping bass, with the strength of brass horns, group singing, and urban poetry.
Members: Armando Pérez, Kevin Miller, Dan Lieber, Ezra Lange, Diana Mosquera, Puerko Pitzotl, Jess Anzaldua, Matt Davis, and Luis Tubens all bring a vital cultural contribution to the band’s unique “afrojam funkbeat” sound. Inspired by Chicago’s soulful blues, jazzy house, and global fusion heavyweights, the group deliver their performances with purpose and verve; unifying listeners through sound and dance.
¡ESSO! was awarded “Best New Band,” and “Best World/International Music Act” by the Chicago Reader’s Poll in 2016. Their latest album offering, Pueblo Unido, is a remix album of their debut record. Fresh back from an appearance at SXSW and their first festival date in México, ESSO is planning a national tour in the Summer of 2017 to bring their music to new listeners across the states and beyond.
Alma Andina, or Soul of the Andes, is a Minneapolis-based group that performs Andean and Latin American music. The group’s director Vladimir Garrido hails from northern Chile, where his mother Nia has been singing folk music for over 30 years. He created Alma Andina in 2007 with his cousin and uncle, and when his uncle returned to Chile, Vladimir sought new band members and recruited Nicolas Munoz and Matthew Levin, young talented Chileans.
Rico Simon Mendez aka Dj Don Cuco has been known to have the natural touch at blending the harmony of sound and spirit, and materializing it into a musical movement. A soul revolution. He purchased his first electric guitar at age 7, and with Prince and Santana as his inspirations, he leaped head first into the dance of music. A constant evolving process, Rico has studied percussion, flute, bass and keys, and various electronic devices, focusing on indigenous sounds, Latin and African rhythms, world beats and healing frequencies.
DJ MIGUEL VARGAS
Born and raised in St. Paul, MN, Miguel Vargas began DJing out of South Minneapolis in 2006, spinning Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop, & House. Shortly after joining forces DJ Ren (Steven Renderos), they expanded their styles to include Cumbia, Salsa, Samba, and other tropical rhythms. They debuted the music radio program, Radio Pocho, on KFAI Minneapolis in 2010. Since then, Vargas has been working in radio for KFAI and American Public Media, and produces Pochanga, a quarterly alternative Latinx concert series in the Twin Cities.