“EACH year it grows and changes and takes on its own spirit,”says Wanda Patterson, speaking of the event she helped found: theSouthern Caribbean Music and Arts Festival.This year’s festival – the seventh – kicks off today and will continuedfor three consecutive weekends. Events will take place inPlaya Chiquita at one of three locations – Playa Chiquita Lodge, theGaia Center or Playa Chiquita School – and at the soccer field inPuerto Viejo de Limón. Presented by Costa Rican artists, all concertswill be at the lodge and start at 9 p.m., for a cost of ¢2,000($4.30); workshops, films and other presentations are free.An experimental jazz group called Amarillo, Cyan y Magentaopens the festival tonight. The members of the group are all classicallytrained musicians who have found a home in improvisation,blending jazz, Hindu, Arabic, African and Latin Americaninfluences.THE ethnic ensemble Rayo del Sol will take the stageSaturday, March 5, playing jazz and rhythm and blues. The bandincludes members from the United States, Nicaragua, Spain andCosta Rica.Creative workshops for children will also take place tomorrowat 11 a.m. The Book Club of San José will facilitate a variety of funactivities to stimulate children’s interest in reading, and will alsohold a book exchange. People are invited to bring books for childrenand adults to exchange or donate to the organization, for itswork with prison inmates and seniors.At 2 p.m., Marta Castro, artistic director of the dance groupOlaba, and Claudio Taylor, a professor at the National DanceWorkshop, will present a Caribbean dance workshop. Members ofProyecto Caribe will facilitate a “rap session” for young peopleabout Afro-Caribbean issues and children’s rights.ON Fri., March 11, Esteban Ramírez’s award-winning film“Caribe,” set in Puerto Viejo, will be shown at Playa ChiquitaLodge at 7 p.m. Aconcert by Shanty y Su Calypso, a popular groupfrom Limón, will follow at 9 p.m.It’s reggae night, Sat., March 12, with Mekatelyu, a group thattakes its name from the patois phrase, “make I tell you.” In otherwords, they want us to listen up to their message of peace, love andharmony, presented in a musical style that marries roots reggaewith calypso, soca, cumbia, rock and ska. The group came togetherin 1998 and has since moved from one success to another. It hasopened for the Wailers, Alpha Blondy and many other groups, andwas featured at the 2002 Youth Festival in Panama City.The Mekatelyu concert will be preceded by a Caribbean danceperformance by Limón’s Dancestral group.A Caribbean dance workshop is alsoscheduled for March 12, at 2 p.m., and willbe taught by Hayde Jiménez of the Universityof Costa Rica and Doris Campbell ofthe National Dance Workshop.Sun., March 13, from 10 a.m. to noon,children of all ages will have the opportunityto experience acrobatics with fabrics,a new and unique form of dance.THE third weekend of the festivalwill open Fri., March 18, at 6 p.m., with apoetry recital entitled Blanco y Negro,presented by the dance group Metamorphosis.The group will continue at 7p.m. with an original dance compositioninspired by the circus arts, with live originalmusic.Nylon, Metal y Bronce, an experimentaljazz group, will be on stage for the 9p.m. concert.At 7 p.m., Metamorphosis will take thestage with another original dance-theaterwork inspired by the book, “Mi Trabajo”(“My Work”), by Argentinean writer JordiCebrian, and Uruguayan poet MarioBenedetti’s work, “The Sex of Angels.”The March 19 concert will be presentedby Música Para el Alma, an ethnicmusic ensemble.Patterson has integrated a very specialdrumming event into the festival: at 11p.m., there will be an hour of simultaneousdrumming for unity in all parts of theworld, created by the non-profit organization,Drumming in One World Beat. Theorganization is sponsored by UNESCOand hundreds of musicians around theworld. A percentage of the profits from thenight’s concert will be donated to the organizationfor its charitable work. Its purposeis to give help and hope to people throughthe universal language of music. Thosewho would like to participate in this rhythmicritual are invited to bring congas, bongos,djembes or other percussion instruments.A full menu of creative workshops isslated for the final weekend of the festival.On Fri., March 18, at 4 p.m., CarlosSavedra, a professor at the University ofCosta Rica, will lead a workshop on percussionfor marching bands at the PuertoViejo soccer field.The 17-member Metamorphosis dancegroup will also be contributing their talentsby teaching workshops throughout theweekend.BORN in San José, Patterson grew upin the Hamptons on Long Island, when itwas still largely corn and potato farms,and has studied and lived all over theworld. When she moved to Puerto Viejo deLimón, she was looking forward to experiencingthe “culture” for which the areawas famous. However, she was takenaback by how very little was going on, andwas motivated to do something about it.Hence, the Southern Caribbean MusicFestival.The first festival seven years ago wasjust music, and Wanda put it on herself.This year, the offerings cover a much widerspectrum of performing arts, with supportfrom numerous government and privateorganizations, including the Ministry ofCulture, State University at a Distance,University of Costa Rica and the CostaRican Tourism Institute.Patterson’s vision is for the annual festivalto mark the beginning of a year of artand music. To this end, she invites performersor teachers in any field of art ormusic to apply for her artist-in-residenceprogram at Playa Chiquita Lodge.“We have to provide choices to ourchildren,” she says. “Right now they havevery few here in Puerto Viejo.”For more information, call 750-0408or 750-0062, or e-mail email@example.com.