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Latin festival fundraiser brings tropical heat to St. Albert

Los Rebeldes, Chris Ruiz, Jose Antonio Garcias and DJ Kris King perform hot Latin charts on March 23 at St. Albert United Church

In the past two years, there has been a global explosion of Latin music. On the regional level, St. Albert Latin Cultural Association (SALCA) is working hard to make it mainstream.  

Older artists like Ricky Martin, Shakira and Marc Anthony, as well as contemporary voices such as Maluma and Bad Bunny, are grabbing most of the headlines. 

But on the local level, it’s the enthusiastic voices of SALCA that coordinate talent and promote grassroots Latin talent. 

For Jorge Vargas, SALCA founder and musician, sharing his culture is a representation of who he is and what he stands for. It also feels cool. 

SALCA’s second concert of the year is dubbed Latin Night and is slated for Saturday, March 23 at St. Albert United Church. The evening of music, entertainment, dance, food and drinks is booked as a fundraiser for the St. Albert Latin Festival designated for Aug. 17 at Lions Park.  

“Our focus is going to be tropical music. It’s very danceable. It’s the kind of music a person would like to take classes for,” said Vargas. 

Tropical music is a term within the Latin industry referring to music from or influenced by Spanish-speaking areas of the Caribbean. They include Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela. 

The concert kicks off with Los Rebeldes, a band of Jasper Place High students partial to blues-rock Latin music. Vargas, who leads the band, notes the band’s Carlos Santana vibe will set the evening’s tone. 

During the band’s performance, Colombian singer Chris Ruiz, also the main female singer for Los Rebeldes, will give a dance demonstration. 

“She has this incredible talent as a dancer. Even while performing Carlos Santana, she will show us basic steps. It will be a crash course in Latino dancing.” 

Next on the program Venezuelan salsa singer, José Antonio Garcia, steps up to the microphone for a set. 

“He has a vast history singing tropical music," Vargas said. "In Venezuela, he even recorded songs that were played on radio. He was at our festival last year and was a real hit." 

Chilean DJ Kris King (aka Cristian Reyes), who has an intuitive sixth sense of what audiences enjoy, will close the final set. And as DJ, he creates an atmosphere of non-stop energy. 

“Anyone who goes to his events is guaranteed they’ll be dancing and dancing, and you’ll be calling for mercy,” said Vargas with a laugh. 

As part cultural evening, SALCA will also serve Latin comfort food that offers contrasting tastes and textures from the first bite. 

Dig into chacareros, a Chilean steak sandwich on a bun loaded with green beans, tomatoes and mayo. The kitchen will also prepare Chilean hot dogs and Mexican Tacos al Pastor cooked with marinated pork. 

Dessert includes Pastel de Piña, a Chilean cake made from dulce de leche, whipping cream and pineapple. Patrons are also encouraged to sample Pastel de tres leches, a Mexican cake with three types of milk: condensed, evaporated and cream.  

Latin Night runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. St. Albert United Church is located at 20 Green Grove Drive. Advance tickets through Eventbrite are $20 and at the door $30. Children under 12 are $10.  

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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