As New York City canceled its Colombian Independence Day Festival for the first time in 26 years, Milpitas will have one of its own.
On Sunday, organizers will host a at in the Milpitas foothills, with a celebration that will include food and musical guests.
The musicians say they will not only celebrate but also fight against stereotypes people might have about Colombia—and they will educate broader audiences about Latin culture.
“People will say that Colombia is drugs and things like that, but there are more important things and more beautiful things,” said Brigido Chaverra, a Colombian musician and the lead singer of the 11-member Latin Brothers salsa band.
The band includes trombone players, a trumpet player, a keyboardist and several others—a mix of instruments that will be used to create mélange of Caribbean rhythms this Sunday, said Chaverra.
Chaverra, who is better known by his stage name, “Macondo,” is confident about the power and the positive influence of Colombian music. “The majority of people in our country are the good guys, and our music gives us a positive face.”
While salsa is a popular genre of music in the U.S., vallenato, a genre of music from Colombia, is not as known. Accordionist Jorge Villareal, also known as Mr. Vallenato, will perform with the band.
Villareal, who is Mexican-American, said he is also excited about promoting Colombian culture and further educating non-Latin guests about the musical genres south of the U.S. border.
“Hopefully, they will see the diversity there are in different Latin cultures … it is not all mariachis like you see sometimes in some movie productions,” Villareal said with a laugh. “[Colombians] have had a very positive influence especially in the music industry … with Carlos Vives, Shakira and Juanes being so successful. ”
Among the better known vallenatos that Villareal will be playing are “El Mochuelo” and “Los Sabanales.” Two songs that Villareal considers “classics."
The actual Independence Day in Colombia is July 20, celebrating the country's independence from Spain.