Feature photo by Laura-Hanifin

The annual Latin Alternative Music Conference, taking place July 9th through the 13th, will once again hold several of its premier showcases at the always amazing outdoor Central Park SummerStage in New York City. The project was founded in 1986 as a public resource to help enrich the lives of New Yorkers, and this summer program, part of the City Parks Foundation, presents free outdoor quality performances, arts, sports and education programs in over 750 parks citywide. The CPF strives “to develop audiences’ deepening appreciation for contemporary, traditional, and emerging artists as well as the communities in which these artists originate.”

We were able to discuss the diverse programming and upcoming programs via e-mail with Erika Elliott, Artistic Director of the event.
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Gozamos: How do the Latin music events differ from the rest of your showcases?

Elliott: From a curatorial perspective, there are two things I think are unique. One is that I am most interested in presenting contemporary Latin music, so what you see at SummerStage is music that young people are listening to around the globe, and represents the new trends and current cultural landscape. Two, is that I want to celebrate the strong Latin music and cultural history that developed in New York and that is distinct. We do a lot of tropical Latin, salsa and boogaloo. This year we have legends like Larry Harlow and Joe Batan. Hip hop is another big focus this summer as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the genre with our “This is Hip Hop” series. We are presenting Fat Joe, Los Rakas, Cuarto Poder and Joell Ortiz. This is something you won’t see at other festivals.

We’ve seen some amazing artists associated with SummerStage, like last year’s Mala Rodriguez performance. How is SummerStage able to offer these concerts for free?

City Parks Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization and we worked hard all year to raise funds to be able to present SummerStage for free. I encourage anyone who comes to a show to donate at the door. Every dollar helps! Become a member if you live in New York City or donate directly to City Parks Foundation. It’s a great way to support the festival and ensure we can continue to bring artists from around the world here and present them for free.

LAMC plays a huge role in the lives of aspiring independent musicians. How do these types of concerts help those same musicians?

The LAMC has been a great partner in the ten plus years I have been with City Parks Foundation and SummerStage. This year, we have in fact expanded our relationship adding more dates than ever before. This provides the performance platform but LAMC offers musicians an unparalleled level of press, networking opportunities and informative panels from real world examples on how to navigate the tricky music business from the most important players in the industry today.

How has LAMC impacted the SummerStage concerts?

Tomas Cookman, who I co-curate our events with has a great vision, strong relationships and is able to help us secure major stars from the Latin world that might not be interested in SummerStage because we are not a stadium venue with a paycheck to match. LAMC is the value added component that helps close the deal for us.

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What’s new at SummerStage this year?

The LAMC dates in the Bronx are going to be amazing. WAR, Joell Ortiz, DJ Afro, RVSB, Ghetto Brothers and our “This is Hip-Hop” series which celebrates 40 years of hip-hop culture is a season-long highlight. And, as always, a full summer of music, dance, theater, film and so much more from around the world for free, in a park near you. What’s better than that?

As loyal attendees of this yearly Latin alternative mega-event, we can attest to the fact of that statement. The ability to see and hear some of the genre’s greatest acts (Cafe Tacuba, Los Autenticos Decadentes, Kinky, Ximena Sariñana) and the up and coming artists following in their footsteps, in a gorgeous and lush outdoor setting, surrounded by some of the most enthusiastic music aficionados we’ve ever seen, in New York City… well, it’s quite simply an experience you never forget.

The LAMC schedule at SummerStage includes:

Joell Ortiz, RVSB DJ Raff vs DJ Bitman – July 9th (Crotona Park)

Fat Joe, Los Rakas, Cuarto Poder  – July 10th

Lila Downs, Natalia Clavier, Pamela Rodriguez and DJ Raul Campos – July 11th

WAR, DJ Afro – July 12th (Crotona Park)

Julieta Venegas, Carla Morrison, Alex Anwandter – July 13th

Ghetto Brothers – July 13th (Crotona Park)

For more information on the “This is Hip-Hop” series and more, visit www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage

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