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Caricaco Music Festival – A Flavor For Every Palate

by Ashley Steyaert

Mumble Riot lead singer Andres Matos

Saturday April 24th marked the Second Annual Caricaco Music Festival held at Tierra Magnifica. Four unique bands and local singers, came together to present Nosara residents and visitors with a variety of beats and rhythms. This year over 350 people attended the anxiously anticipated event, ranging from young children to seasoned adults from many corners of the world.

As people arrived and settled in on the lawns, patios and poolside decks they were serenaded by such local musicians as Hank the Pirate and Jennifer Stone who did a great job of breaking the ice and setting the tone for a relaxed evening of musical expression.

Despite a threat posed by a short rainstorm around 6:00pm, the show continued as scheduled with the program. Mumble Riot was the first to play for the crowd, a band who was asked to perform at the event as a last minute stand-in for the would be second year attending band ‘Jippo’, following a shoulder injury suffered by the band’s guitar player just before the date of the Festival. VON talked with lead singer Andres Matos after the band performed their set on stage, playing songs with a strong U.S. style Rock ‘n Roll influence prevailing through their San José residency. Come to find out that Andres grew up in Miami until the age of 14, when his family moved back to their motherland of Costa Rica, where he has been ever since. Matos explained to us that he is a native English speaker, and “all the rock [he] grew up listening to was in English”, which explains a lot about the band’s lyrics and sound. When asked about the moments of inspiration in which the band creates it’s music, Matos responded that although “many songs [the band has] made were born during a night of beer drinking, the inspiration is deeper than that”. Matos, along with Eric Fischel, James McRae and Alvar Rodriguez formed the band four years ago and although they have yet to perform outside of Costa Rica thus far, Matos tells us that “if [Mumble Riot is ] going to have a real future, we have to leave the country.”

Next up in the musical line-up was Los Cuchillos, a band heavily influenced by 1960’s which strives to “relive those times” through not only their surf rock rhythms, but also with coordinated theme appropriate clothing, all the way down to slicked back hairstyles straight out of ‘Grease. The group is comprised of Tony on vocals and guitar, Carolina on vocals and keyboard, Arnoldo on guitar, Paulo on bass and Fabrizio on drums. Apparently “it all began with [lead vocalist and guitar player] Tony’s idea to form a band with surf, garage and rockabilly influences” in October of 2005. Tony explains to VON that the band decided on the name Los Cuchillos because they “thought it would be a good name for a 50’s/60’s rebel gang, from Rockers and Teddy Boys, who put their gangs’ names of on their jackets.” The band lists their main influences as the Gastly Ones, Longboards, Dick Dale, among many others, and the group also shares a fascination with old horror movies that sheds some light on some of the songs’ chilling undertones. The group tells VON that they “are being promoted on the radio, and there are plans to do an album”.

The third band to perform was the highly animated group known as Cocofunka. The six members identify themselves as “life long friends” who got together to form Cocofunka in 2008 with the dream of “doing something different.” Although all of the band members have earned professional degrees (from psychology to industrial production engineering), “[their] dream is to live by music” alone. The name Cocofunka, like their music, is all about fusion. Coco is a reflection of their love for the beach, and funka is a mixed reference to funk music and the Costa Rican pachuko slang word ‘funka’, meaning funciona or ‘it functions/works’. The band members themselves are an accurate representation of the music they play; there’s a little bit of everything. Reserved band members mixed with hyper extroverts, funky jams blended with reggae roots rhythms. Cocofunka had the crowd pumped up and dancing for two straight hours, a true testament to how “the words (in our interview) don’t even express one fourth of what the songs express.”

Caricaco’s grand finale was just what the crowd needed to keep the energy up for the rest of the night; lead singer Luis Arenas, known as “Lucho Calavera” kept the audience waiting and made a grand entrance dressed in a bright pink sequined suit and feather boa, accompanied by a stunning back up dancer dressed to the nines as well. “La Canalla” is the excellent band that was playing with Lucho Calavera, creating a perfect musical and professional match. Arenas returned to Costa Rica two years ago after spending 10 years making music in Spain, an experience that he sums up in the word “catharsis” and phrase “do what you want”. During his time in Spain, Arenas lead the Costar Rican band known widely as ‘El Parque’, which was a great success that produced two hit songs after Arenas joined the group in 1995, earning them considerable fame. According to Arenas “nobody understood when I left to Spain because it was the most successful moment of my life, but to come back to a good and honest project [here in Costa Rica] is something that I do from the heart, and I think that transmits [to the people].” Calavera y la Canalla gave the crowd a great show of Latin fusion bringing flamenco to mix with the rhythms of Costa Rica.

The 2nd Annual Caricaco Music Festival overcame many obstacles ranging from musician injuries to weather complications to sound equipment malfunctions to provide Nosara with much enjoyed musical infusion to the area, but it would be hard to tell by the audience’s pitiable applause given at the end of each song. However, whatever appreciative shortcomings the crowd may have had in clapping, they certainly made up for in dancing. Countless individuals, local businesses and of course the bands themselves invested a great amount of effort and resources to make the second Festival a reality this year.



Liza and Theo

Organizor Alejandro Gutierrez, Cocofunka, Lucho Calavera y La Canalla

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