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Latin Alternative Music Fests Heat Up The Summer

Members of Mariachi Manchester performs at Nuevo Fest in Philadelphia
Felix Contreras
Members of Mariachi Manchester performs at Nuevo Fest in Philadelphia

"Summer's here and the time is right for dancing in the street"

Well, maybe not the street but certainly in Central Park in N.Y.C., Addams/Medill Park in Chicago, Fringe Arts in Philadelphia and Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn.

Those were the spots for the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC), The Ruido Fest, the Nuevo Fest and the celebration of African heritage at the Afro Latino Fest.

With most of the larger summer music festivals pretty much ignoring our corner of the music landscape, a handful of more ambitious festival organizers have found a dedicated audience and tons of Latin alternative bands to fill outdoor and indoor venues.

This year we introduce you to New York City's small but very important Afro Latino Fest, the only festival of its kind according to many of the day's performers, putting the spotlight on Afro Latino culture with food, fashion, art and of course music.

Nuevo Fest continues the fantastic collaboration between NPR member station WXPN and cultural presenters Afro Taino Productions with their picturesque setting beneath the imposing Ben Franklin bridge in Philadelphia.

Ruido Fest proves once again that music can bridge communities in Chicago, a city that is often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Shout out to city officials, festival organizers and the community itself for a fantastically rich and family-friendly fun day of culture.

The LAMC, also in New York, is the elder tio of them all, having been around for 18 years now. Its combination of music industry gatherings as well as shows in clubs and Central Park make for an exhausting yet fun week (remember, us older tios can't stay out too late for so many nights in a row!).

This year AltLatino includes a spotlight on the listeners. At each location we talked to you, the fans, about your attraction to this music.

You'll see that our music boasts probably the most diverse cross section of curious and adventurous music fans of any genre. That is strictly a very unscientific observation. But we stand by it, based on what we saw this year.

Special thanks to AltLatino reporters Catalina Maria Johnson and Marisa Arbona-Ruiz for their work from Chicago and Philadelphia this week!

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Catalina Maria Johnson
Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.
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