Major Players in the Global Music Industry Meet in Miami Beach to Rock en Español

Miami Beach was the place to be as the second Midem Caribbean and Latin American Music Convention unfolded at the city’s convention center from August 24 to the 28. Delegates from the all over the world arrived to the trendy spot to discuss the concerns of the Latin American and Caribbean music industry. Four days of conferences, trade show, press conferences, and concerts, were the components that put Florida on the map.

International stars performing included the legendary Cuban artists Company Segundo, Panamanian actor/singer Ruben Blades, Brazil best selling recording artist So Pra Contrariar, Africa’s reggae ambassador Lucky Dube, Tex-Mex delegates La Mafia, Italia’s new sensation Nek , Mexico’s rock/hip hop super group Molotov, exceptional DJ Frankie Bones, Miami’s very own DJ Laz, world renowneds tenor Placido Domingo, Puerto Rican salsa messenger Willie Colon, USA’s rappers 2 Live Crew, and Venezuela’s novelty disco/funk/acid jazz group Los Amigos Invisibles.

DAMN – Monday, August 24, 5PM

After a 10-minute walk from the parking lot, I arrive to the Miami Beach Convention Center just to find that I’ve walked to the wrong side of the building. I spent an extra five minutes under the hot sun with an amicable (and also, lost) export manager from a Spanish music distributor, looking for the right entrance. Almost in need to take a shower, we arrive to the right entrance to encounter the long line of participants trying to register. The 45 minutes it took to go through it gave me the chance to admire the international aspect of the event. People [projected an anxious feeling while their faces displayed the international aspect of the event. Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian, all kind of languages could be heard across the long line of participants trying to register for the event.

Sandy Dessert – Monday August 24, 8PM

The opening party was sponsored by Caiman Records and this company either wanted to impress the participants or they have money to waste. Right on the sand, next to the beach, plenty of food and liquor flowed across the unconventional circus-like venue, while delegates, celebrities, and Miami Beach city officials danced and dined in the glamorous art deco district, listening to Caiman Music’s live showcase.

Luaka Bop – Tuesday August 25, 10PM

After wasting my time at my regular 9 to 6 job, it was time to experience the real thing. It was easy to decide from the more than five theme parties/showcases celebrated each night The David Byrne-owned Luaka Bop Records showcase at the Warsaw was the place to see great rock en español in action. Colombia’s Bloque heat up the night, playing an alternative version of Colombia’s traditional music. After listening to an advance copy of their upcoming October-release debut album, I though it was going to be hard to recreate the sound in the excellent production. I was wrong. This septet certainly can play live, and most definitively can reproduce the percussive Colombian-styled music in their album while injecting it with a rock attitude.

Minutes after, Los Amigos Invisibles converted the venue in a Studio 54-like club. Their debut album, ‘The New Sound of the Venezuelan Gozadera” didn’t catch my attention at first, but, after seen their performance, the sextet made me go back and pay attention to it, with a whole new perspective. Their aggressive disco-meets-funk, in an acid jazz/Latin mood, definitively moved the crowd. It was such the rave created that the band was forced back on stage for an encore.

King Chango closed the night with their Latin reggae/ska from New York. With a few changes to their line-up, the hipped Blanquito Man (lead singer) and company, started their set with an outstanding cover of Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” which appears on the just-released Outlandos D’Americas, a rock en español tribute to The Police. The band performance was excellent, but it could not exceed the blistering ambience created by Los Amigos Invisibles.

The Deal and The Voice – Wednesday, August 26 10AM. Miami Beach Convention Center

I took the day off from my 9-to-6 to perceive the real thing: the trade show. Deals were done right on everybody’s face at the convention center. Record labels licensing their product to companies in other countries, magazines promoting their pages, distributors looking for new suppliers, retailers in the haunt for new products, publishing companies selling their catalog to foreign countries. So much meet-and-greet under such a noisy atmosphere caused me to have hardly any voice at the end of the day.

MTV Latin – Wednesday, August 26. 10PM, The Cameo Theater

I was very excited for MTV’s Noche de Rock en Español. The 1998 Grammy nominated Aterciopelados kicked off the evening to a great acclaim, exchanging their hits with some songs from their just-released fourth full-length, Caribe Atomico. Like always, lead singer Andrea Echevarria captivated the audience with her charm and powerful interpretations while Aterciopelados alternative-rock-with-a-touch-of-folk-music from the band’s mainland of Colombia delighted the packed site.

Plastilina Mosh got on stage to turn off the assisting spectators speechless. Even though their excellent debut album Aquamosh is taking the rock en español scene by storm, it was very difficult for the audience to digest the mostly-sampled music (hip hop/hardcore/electronica) the duet was trying to perform on stage. The band needs to either work on their stage presence or hired some extra musicians, and stop depending so much in samples.

Molotov came to the rescue, closing the night with striking display of energy — their drummer hitting hard, and their guitarist loud as hell, and TWO bass players, banging strings while their hip hop-meets-hardcore started the frenzy. The Cameo literally was jumping, to such an exceptional vigorous performance by Molotov.

Thank you for Coming, Good Night

That was it for me. Thursday at my 9-to-5, dying would have been a pleasant experience. Returning from my vacations (hardly any sleep) the previous week and to enter to such a work-party trend was too much. By Thursday my body could not resist any longer and it was like the convention ended that day, even though it wasn’t over until Friday.

Note: The third edition of this premier music event for the Americas will be renamed Midem Americas and will return to Miami Beach next year from the 22nd to the 25th of June 1999. Midem Americas will not only focus on music from the Latin American and the Caribbean hemisphere, but North America as well, embracing all styles of music from rock to dance, reggae to salsa.

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