San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Music Beat

PHOTOS: Grinding out the blues over the weekend, Barrio Amón 'felt like New Orleans'

Scores of music fans flooded the Amón Solar building in San José’s Barrio Amón last Friday to celebrate the International Blues Festival. Craft beer poured liberally, gourmet dishes emerged on decorative butcher blocks, conversation filled the foyer – and when the bands started to play, guests danced and whistled madly. The lineup was astonishing Tico outfit MG & The Blues Burners (featuring former Culture Minister Manuel Obregón). The night culminated in a headliner performance by Steve Arvey, who played the main stage with a cadre of mostly Costa Rican musicians.

“It’s a little crazy,” said organizer and Blind Pigs founder David Scott. “But if you go downstairs, you’ll find El Sótano, which means ‘the basement.’ It’s literally a basement. But when you’re down there, you feel like you could be in New York or New Orleans. It’s wonderful.”

Indeed, the tiny room of El Sótano was so packed with people that some guests perched in the stairwell, bending necks to catch a glance of acoustic musicians like Navil Garcia.

While the two-night festival ended last night, Amón Solar will continue to sing the blues, thanks to a musician’s workshop on Sunday afternoon, led by Arvey. With any luck, there’ll be a reprise next year.

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Kati Winnegrad

What a fabulous weekend it was in Amon Solar!!! Thursday evening was a bit less crowded downstairs in El Sotano, allowing a truly intimate exchange with the musicians. I was so grateful not only for the amazing music, but for the opportunity to have some space to move/dance to these incredible musicians. It felt so good when Dave Scott and Steve Arvey each thanked me for dancing and connecting with them. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and other musicians as well. Friday night was WILD, and very crowded. It was so wonderful to dance and play with Manuel’s (Obregon) tickling the ivories once again. It seemed like “old times” when I first was taken for a ride by his marvelous piano playing in the very early days of Malpais.
I want to thank you, David Scott, for organizing this magnificent Festival, which I hope we can have as an on-going, Annual Event. Most of all, I want to thank Chema/Jose Maria Alfaro for creating Amon Solar/El Sotano as a true “H O M E” for ALL Artists to come and share their varying forms of creative expression to nurture our souls!!! We are truly blessed by YOUR creative expression, Chema, in the form of AMON SOLAR!!!

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