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Rio Mira: Tiny Desk Concert

For just about fifteen minutes, the members of Rio Mira created a living and very melodic connection to Africa. Set behind a large marimba — and drums that are unique to their corner of the world — the members of the band performed music that is the legacy of enslaved people who were in both Ecuador and Colombia. Rio Mira takes its name from a river that separates Ecuador and Colombia and empties into the Pacific Ocean.

Rio Mira's three songs in this performance are dominated by the marimba and accompanied by drums from both Europe and Africa. "La Pepa de Tangaré" references the culinary joys of life and, like the rest of their set, celebrates life along the river: soft breezes, loving friends, the embrace of Africa and, of course, lots of festejando (partying)!

If you're a little rusty on your college Spanish classes, the extended narration in "Román Román" tells the tale of a village man who has healing powers and challenges death.

For me, the principal attractions to this group are the instruments and the musical skills that were handed down for generations along the river, and how they eventually ended up here on this video for you to enjoy. I dare you to not move your hips along with these infectious grooves!


  • "La Pepa de Tangaré"
  • "Román Román"
  • "Mi Buenaventura"

    Esteban Copete: marimba; Karla Kanora: vocals; Benjamín Vanegas: vocals; Carlos Hurtado: vocals; Sergio Ramírez: bombo macho; Carlos Loboa: cununos; Tito Ponguillo: bombo hembra


    Producers: Felix Contreras, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineers: Josh Rogosin, James Willetts; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Jeremiah Rhodes, Maia Stern, Beck Harlan; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Production Assistant: Paul Georgoulis; Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey; Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann; Photo: Shuran Huang/NPR

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    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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