Live Review: DC Music Rocks Festival @ 9:30 Club — 8/17/19

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Eli Lev performs at the DC Music Rocks Festival on Aug. 17, 2019. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

I’ve been following the District of Columbia’s live music scene for several years yet I’ve just barely begun to scratch the surface of the diversity, variety and joy that so many musical artists bring to this region. The same could be said about the third annual DC Rocks Music Festival recently — despite the line-up of a wonderful array of 12 bands and singer-songwriters, there is so much more to discover in our own backyard.

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Excursion: Babalú!!! Musicians of Cuba

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Cuban musicians perform at Hotel Marqués de Prado Ameno, La Habana Vieja, Cuba, in March 2019. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

Babalú! Those of us who’ve reached a certain age, or any fan of “I Love Lucy,” will recognize that famous cry. Ricky Ricardo’s celebrated signature song introduced countless Americans to Cuban music and culture. Desi Arnaz, who played the television show’s Cuban band leader, had already made “Babalú” an established musical number for his orchestra in the 1940s.

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Don’t Miss: Mariachi Flor De Toloache (Opening for The Arcs) @ 9:30 Club, 12/14-12/15/15

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Flor de Toloache (Photo by Andrei Averbuch)

The Arcs are the new band helmed by Dan Auerbach, guitarist and vocalist of The Black Keys. They are a bit unusual in several aspects, being a kind of large garage chamber pop band.

One of the unusual aspects of the band is that they are backed by members of Mariachi Flor De Toloache in concert. The all-female mariachi band from New York City provides vocals, horns, and strings to the bluesy ensemble.

The Arcs are touring in support of their debut album, and they are bringing Flor De Toloache along with them as the opening act with two nights at the 9:30 Club on Monday, Dec. 14, and Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Founded by Mireya Ramos, Mariachi Flor de Toloache themselves released a self-titled debut album in April. The band today includes up to 13 rotating members who play traditional mariachi instruments: violin, trumpet, guitarrón (bass), and vihuela (five-string guitar). Mireya and co-leader Shae Fiol provide vocals, and Shae also designs the band’s outfits.

Watch Mariachi Flor De Toloache play Blue Note’s Subrosa in New York City for their record release party on April 4, 2015:

Taking its name from a poisonous night flower used as a love potion in Central America in the past, Flor De Toloache infuse various musical genres into their mariachi mix, including salsa, bachata, cumbia, gypsy music, and Latin jazz as well as pop, hip-hop, and soul, according to a profile of the band in the Wall Street Journal published earlier this year.

The first show on Monday, Dec. 14, sold out, but tickets are still available online for a second show on Tuesday, Dec. 15!

Mariachi Flor De Toloache
(Opening for The Arcs)
9:30 Club
Monday, Dec. 14
Tuesday, Dec. 15
Doors @7pm
$40
All ages