Fest Nest

Bear Creek Preview: Can Suenalo’s Latin Flavor Trump The Funk?

Bear Creek Preview: Can Suenalo’s Latin Flavor Trump The Funk?

Bear Creek boasts a river of funk, but it’s the introduction of new fusion acts we’re bookmarking in 2013. Enter Suenalo, a 12-year-old, Latin fusion ensemble based in the heart of Miami. The eight-piece collective plans to make its first trip up to Suwannee in just a few weeks, and we couldn’t be more excited as Miami natives to help welcome this spicy octet to our favorite live music venue in the country. We spoke to bassist Kako Guzman about the band’s arrival at Suwannee, the festival perspective on modern Latin music and future tour plans moving into the new year.

Bear Creek boasts a river of funk, but it’s the introduction of new fusion acts we’re bookmarking in 2013. Enter Suenalo, a 12-year-old, Latin fusion ensemble based in the heart of Miami. The eight-piece collective plans to make its first trip up to Suwannee in just a few weeks, and we couldn’t be more excited as Miami natives to help welcome this spicy octet to our favorite live music venue in the country. We spoke to bassist Kako Guzman about the band’s arrival at Suwannee, the festival perspective on modern Latin music and future tour plans moving into the new year.

Melodysiac: So, it’s Suenalo’s first trip up to Bear Creek. What’s the band’s collective feeling?
Kako Guzman: We are very excited. We’ve been waiting to do this festival for years. We got invited to do it three years ago, but we had to cancel last minute and couldn’t make it, and last year we couldn’t make it either. So finally, all the stars are aligned this year, and we are ready!

Bear Creek is predominantly known for its funk roots, but over time, genres like jam, blues and electro have also made a happy home on the annual festival’s roster. Suenalo represents the introduction of yet another genre, Latin fusion, to Bear Creek. How do you think this flavor of music will enhance the overall vibe of this year’s festival?
I think that it will add even more richness to the festival. Because we don’t play straight or traditional Latin music, but mix it up with other more familiar genres, I think we make it more accessible to audiences not used to the Latin feel. Hopefully, audiences and the promoters will like it enough to make it a permanent part of the festival in the future.

Latin music is very centric to Miami. How important is it for a band like Suenalo to spread its craft beyond South Florida?
Very important. The more Latin rhythms become popular, the more we can attract audiences. We do extremely well at festivals outside Miami. Audiences can’t get enough, because the Latin feel is so contagious and energetic. We recently played the Grassroots Festivals in Finger Lakes, Ithaca, and Shakori Hills, near Raleigh in North Carolina, and it was just amazing. Grassroots used to be a folk and bluegrass festival, but in recent years, they’ve discovered a few Miami bands, which are now staples of their lineup, and the response from the public has been just amazing. We hope this pattern extends to other festivals across the country. We like to think that we continue to spread the Latin flavor in music that Santana introduced to the world in the late ’60s – at Woodstock, for example.

Do you guys tour often, or are you content with keeping a schedule of local gigs with familiar faces?
We don’t tour as much as we’d like, and at the same time we are not content with just playing locally. We are in a tough spot. We’ve been together for 12 years now, and as you can expect, life happens. And I mean kids, lots of kids, which means more responsibility, and a greater need to for a stable income. Unfortunately, the music business is not too kind to the 99 percent of bands like us who don’t have a widely successful career. At the same time, the live music scene in Miami is becoming really tough, and it seems that more and more people would rather go to the trendy place of the month without really caring about who’s playing, or if there is live music at all. This still is the land of DJs and dance clubs and local bands, and live music venues are really are swimming against the current. We often find that audiences outside Miami are so receptive to what we do, perhaps because of the novelty of the sound, or because other cities just love live music and they show up, listen, dance and really enjoy the acts. We would love to travel more, but another factor is that we are eight people, and it’s essential to our sound to not have less musicians. And we don’t want to entrust our musical functions to a laptop in order to save money on traveling expenses. We very much like the fact that we are a live band –  through and through.

Bear Creek is known for its many sit-ins. Any chance of a few members of Suenalo doing cameos with other acts at the festival?
We haven’t spoken to anybody yet, but we’ve love to. We are good friends with Roosevelt Collier, and he has sat in with us a few times.

Will Suenalo stick around to enjoy the festival in its entirety? What have you heard about Bear Creek, and what are you most looking forward to?
Definitely! We know that Bear Creek has been an amazing festival. We’re looking forward to seeing and meeting as many bands as possible, and to connect with new fans.

As both a music fan and a musician, which bands you are most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
We are big fans and look up to Lettuce, Galactic, Antibalas, The Motet, and of course, The Roots. The whole lineup is just sick, it really is a dream festival!

Following Bear Creek and the closing of 2013, what does Suenalo have in store for next year? 
We have a new album coming out in February 2014. We are working on two videos, a big CD release party, and as much touring as we can afford. We are planning on playing across Florida, North Carolina, and NYC. Hopefully, we will make it to the West Coast by the end of the year, and we also hope to stop by New Orleans, and do as many festival as we can. So, promoters, listen up: We want to play your festival!

Snag tickets to Bear Creek, where you can catch Suenalo, along with a ton of exciting musical acts. For more information on the return of this annual, funky extravaganza taking place at Live Oak’s Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, November 13 – 17, 2013, click here!

Photos by Jason Leiva and Suenalo

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victor

November 5th, 2013

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