Thursday, July 3, 2014

Music legend Rubén Blades writes Editus to praise Costa Rica's World Cup achievements

By David Boddiger

The idea of sports uniting an otherwise politically troubled region might seem a little dubious and superficial at first. But there really is something to it, it seems.

Costa Rica’s beloved national men’s football team, La Sele, is receiving lots of praise from throughout Central America (and the world, really) after dominating the so-called “Group of Death” during first-round play at the World Cup Brazil 2014.

The international love-fest started with Costa Rica’s shocking upset of higher-ranked Uruguay two weeks ago, with a score of 3-1. La Sele’s second goal in that match was scored by Óscar Duarte, a 25-year-old Nicaragua-born naturalized Tico. If you’ve ever traveled to or lived in Nicaragua or Costa Rica, you’ll understand the implications of this duality of citizenship and sport, particularly given the two countries’ historic political hostility.

Reaad more of the Rubén Blades article after the jump...(more)

This Afro-Latino hip hop duo takes a hard look at the sueño americano

Let’s start with the band’s name: Los Rakas. It’s based on a slur used in Panama for someone from the streets. A hoodlum. But the two cousins who make up the duo see things another way.

“The reason we decided to call ourselves Los Rakas is to show the world that not everything that comes from the ghetto is negative,” said Abdull Rubén Domínguez, aka Raka Dun. He’s 26, and came to the US from Panama as a teenager.
He raps, along with his cousin Ricardo Betancourt, or, as he's known on stage, Raka Rich. Betancourt was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, but his parents are from Panama.
Read more and listen to some of the Los Rakas music... (more)

Hip-Hop Culture's Impact On the Gentrification of Santa Ana

by Gabriel San Roman

A graffiti mural splashed with color and the words Santa Ana looms from the rooftop over the courtyard between Fourth and French streets. In the left-hand corner of the piece, the artist tagged the phrase "East End"—the new name of the area known for decades as Fiesta Marketplace. The brick layered walkways of Plaza Santa Ana used to be home to El Faisan, a collection of kiosks offering Westernwear and Mexican imports before disappearing like many other immigrant businesses before it.
Read more at the jump..(more)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Latino YouTube Network MiTu Raises $10 Million

by Natalie Jarvey

Latino YouTube network MiTu has raised $10 million in funding from lead investor Upfront Ventures and existing investors. 

The Culver City digital media firm will use the funding to build out production facilities in Los Angeles and Mexico City. It will also hire additional engineering and sales staff to support application development. 
MiTu was founded by CEO Doug GreiffBeatriz Acevedo andRoy Burstin in 2012 and has since grown to work with more than 1,200 YouTube creators that have a combined 40 million subscribers and 400 million monthly views. MiTu president Acevedo was named to THR's inaugural Silicon Beach Power 25 list for her work growing the business. 
"Latinos are a high demand demo, driving population growth yet their media choices have been limited," Acevedo said. "We are the leading digital media company for Latinos, we create culturally-relevant content, discover new break-out talent and are a fresh alternative for advertisers, networks, studios and global Hispanic audience."
Lead investor Upfront Ventures was one of the early investors in Maker Studios, which recently sold to Disney for up to $950 million. Managing partner Mark Suster led the investment in MiTu. 
"When I met the team at MiTu I knew they understood the mixture of Latino meets online video better than anybody else I had met and became excited to be a partner with them," Suster said. 
MiTu, which focuses on lifestyle verticals such as health, beauty and home, recently expanded into pop culture with the launch of the Macho channel. The anchor show, El Show With Chuey Martinez, is currently being adapted into a late-night series for HLN. The network is backed by existing investors that include The Chernin Group, Machinima chairman Allen DeBevoise and Advancit Capital, the venture capital firm founded by Shari Redstone and Jason Ostheimer

Viva Cinema Latino Film Festival set for 6/27 & 6/28 at Mattatuck Museum

Organized by the Connecticut Film Festival, the second annual ¡Viva Cinema! Latino Film Festival will feature more than 75 narrative, documentary, short, animation and student films and will take place Friday, June 27, and Saturday, June 28, at the Mattatuck Museum on the Green in downtown Waterbury.
¡Viva Cinema!, a spin-off of the popular Connecticut Film Festival, has selected two award-winning and thought-provoking feature length films to headline this year’s two-day festival. Saturday morning will feature a program geared for children (12 and up) including animations and narrative shorts written and directed by Hispanic filmmakers and animators.
On Friday, June 27, ¡Viva Cinema¡ will present “Pelo Malo” (Bad Hair), 2013, 93 minutes, written and directed by renowned Venezuelan filmmaker Mariana Rondón and produced by Marité Ugás. This film is the winner of 11 prestigious international awards and three other nominations including: The Golden Seashell at the San Sebastián International Film Festival and Best Film at The Havana Film Festival. “Pelo Malo” follows the journey of a young Venezuelan boy looking for love and acceptance. “Junior”, who is looking to please his mother, wants to straighten his hair and dress like a fashionable pop star for a class photo, which leads to his mother’s rejection and question of the young boy’s sexual ambiguity.
Friday’s film premiere will be followed by a catered after party at the Mattatuck Museum compliments of Michael Bick’s: Some Things Fishy Catering and will include Zevia soda, and Thomas Hooker beer.
On Saturday, June 28 beginning at 10:30 a.m. ¡Viva Cinema! will begin with a program of animated and narrative shorts for children ages 12 and up and their adult caregivers and friends. Saturday evening will feature the northeast premiere of “Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War,” directed by Mexican west coast filmmaker, Jesse Acevedo. This film is about an extraordinary rap duo: Los Aldeanos, who is sweeping the Cuban underground with their urgent lyrics about the dire economic and political state of their beloved country.
Los Aldeanos began as one of many underground Rap Cubano groups based in Havana, Cuba and is now heralded as the voice of the lost generation. They are banned from performing in all official concert halls or venues and their music is distributed solely by hand, in total secrecy for fear of government persecution. They perform in make-shift venues and promote the concerts only hours before they actually go on stage, still managing to gather crowds in the thousands. Director Jesse Acevedo, along with an anonymous film crew, risked their freedom and lives while using guerrilla methods and hidden cameras as they take the viewer inside a new revolution brewing within Cuba. Ever fearful of reprisal, the identities of the crew are kept secret. Those who do speak out are at great risk of imprisonment.
It is recommended that tickets and day passes be purchased in advance. Seating is limited. Single tickets are $7 for adults and children (12 and up). Day passes for Friday and Saturday are $30. For more information, full schedules and to purchase individual movie tickets and day passes, visit
Visit or call 203-753-0381 for more information on all of the museum’s adult and children’s programs, events and exhibits.

Ruben Blades Releases New CD TANGOS Today

Tangos, the stunning new CD from Ruben Blades, is set for release via Sunnyside Records today, June 24th.
The best songs are those that provide messages that reach beyond the genre into which they are born. There are lyrics that can move people deeply, even when the composer and listener are separated by oceans.

The tremendous poet, composer and actor Rubén Blades is the sort who can plumb the depths of human emotion. Over his industrious and varied career, Blades has been a voice of passion, awareness and social consciousness throughout the Spanish-speaking world. He also possesses a wide-ranging interest in ideas and art, which has led to his involvement in projects with intriguing musical blends, including his new recording Tangos, a fascinating partnership of Blades's classic salsa compositions with Argentinean tango.

Blades's interest in tango music led him to reach out to his long time friend and collaborator Carlos Franzetti. Both were intimately involved in the New York Latin jazz and salsa scenes of the late 1970s and early 1980s and they befriended each other while working on a number of recordings, including the massive releases of Siembra (1978) and Maestra Vida (1980) and the music for the films Beat Street (1984) and Q&A (1990).

The initial idea for a collaboration using tango material was proposed nearly a decade ago but plans were delayed while Blades served as the Minister of Tourism for his native Panama from 2004 to 2009. Blades never forgot the idea and he began to hint at a possible tango project with Franzetti while touring Latin America shortly after his term ended.

Blades's hints led to an invitation from Gustavo Mozi for the two to close the World Tango Festival in Buenos Aires during the summer of 2010. The Festival gave Blades and Franzetti the perfect opportunity to tackle the project.

Franzetti began by arranging five of Blades's compositions for their performance: "Pablo Pueblo," "Ligia Elena," "Ella," "Paula C" and "Pedro Navaja." At the Festival, Blades and Franzetti were accompanied by the fantastic Leopoldo Federico Orchestra, which also recorded the pieces shortly thereafter. Once they returned to New York, Blades and Franzetti worked on arranging another six compositions, which were recorded with a tango quintet, with the strings and woodwinds recorded later in Prague.

Ruben Blades has proven himself to be one of the greatest lyricists and songwriters of our time. The idea to frame his lyrics with the tremendous arrangements of Carlos Franzetti in the tango idiom only increases the drama of his poetry. Tangos will prove to cement the legacy of this master songwriter and the ability of his songs to transcend musical borders.

Tangos is set for release June 24th on Sunnyside Records.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Stage Concerts -- July 7 Through July 13

Don't miss this year's Summer Stage concerts throughout the entire New York City. These events will feature an abundance and variety of Latino music and arts.