Ablaze with musical talent

Blaze Festival is already well under way, but if you’re not yet in on the action, fear not, as you’ve by no means missed the boat. Now into its second year, the programme for the Barbican’s summer festival is as diverse as the event’s locations. Although the majority are based at the Barbican, some events are spread out across East London, from the classic Hackney Empire to the Royal Stratford East Theatre. Not to mention the free reggae gig in Shoreditch Park. You’d be silly not to go and check something out…

Everyone wants to escape to festivals outside London, but not everybody remembers what the city itself has to offer. In times of recession, options closer to home are always welcome. When it comes to diversity, Blaze festival means business. You can dance to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s reggae or croon to the country blues of Bob Dylan’s son, Jakob Dylan. Or why not catch a showing of Dracula with its soundtrack composed by Philip Glass, and the legendary performance by Bela Lugosi? With so many shows on offer, it’s easy to lose yourself in the choice.

For those enchanted with South America, there’s still time. Caetano Veloso’s wonderful show has all but passed, but two more Latin nights are set to heat up the festival. Céu, the Brasilian singer and songwriter nominated for a Grammy, promises to put on a big return show on the 15th, sharing the spotlight with Bomba Electrica, the Colombian cumbia band. And speaking of which, Colombia have a night all to themselves on the June 25th (see right), with traditional music from Toto la Momposina, complimented by the anarchic Caribbean sounds of La Mojarra Electrica. Better get down to the box office on the double.

BLAZE TOP 3:

Céu + Bomba Electrica
15 July, 8pm, Hackney Empire, £10-15
Nominated for a grammy, this Brazilian songwriter took our breath away at her last London show in 2009.

Youssou N’Dour
18 July, 7.30pm, Barbican, £15-30
Perhaps the most famous African singer of the moment, the show promises a musical mix of Africa and the Caribbean.

Mayra Andrade + Calypso Rose
24 July, 7.30pm, Barbican, £12.50-22.50
The Cape Verdian singer shines alone, but the Aboriginal artist Gurrumul should be an exciting addition to the evening. As the 24th is a Saturday, the night will continue with the infamous Silent Disco.

COLOMBIAN SHOWCASE
Toto La Momposina & La Mojarra Electrica
25 Jul, 7.30pm, Barbican, £10-20

In July, Colombia commemorates 200 years of independence. Therefore, the night at the Barbican will be quite some party: from the traditional and folkloric cumbia sung by Toto La Momposina, to La Mojarra Electrica’s rhythmic medlies. Toto has been singing for more than 50 years and was taught by the previous generations of her family, giving her music real authenticity. She was already very well known in 1985, when Gabriel Garcia Marquez took her as a guest to collect his Nobel Prize for Literature. La Mojarra Electrica is a young band from Bogota, whose members are trained in various styles from jazz to folk. The result is a much more up to date sound, with tangible hints of the Caribbean.

By Erika Tambke

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June 19th – July 31st 2010
Barbican Centre
Silk Street – EC2Y 8DS
barbican.org.uk/blaze

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