Music News

The Putumayo World Music Festival

We don't normally pay much attention in these pages to happenings in Sedona, our lovely day trip to the north. The Sedona Cultural Park, though, booked itself a doozie of a show in its efforts to turn itself into an elite Western musical destination, much in the way Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, is to Denver. Putumayo is one of the most interesting of record labels, routinely releasing compilation albums that feature styles and artists from across the globe -- Africa, Europe and the Americas have received particular attention. Sometimes, the label releases volumes on concepts, like an album full of global lullabies and African covers of American classic rock songs. They're the kind of albums that make dinner parties cooler, the rituals of love lovelier and the process of falling asleep more comfortable. They also make good fodder for smarter-than-average frat-boy stoners.

Putumayo turns 10 years old this year, and to celebrate, the label is holding one-day festival concerts in burgs here and abroad. The Sedona show is one of four being held in North America and is the only one in the Southwest. The bill is worth the journey -- Mexican-American vets Los Lobos, no longer churning out masterpieces but still an exciting live band, will play, as will African guitar god Oliver Mtukudzi and Cajun rockers Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie. Tempe mainstay Walt Richardson, who mixes innumerable world-music influences into his sets, will represent the local contingent. The vibes, assuredly, will be positive, and the jam-friendly artists may make the evening's sunset against the mountains in the pavilion's background that much more intense.

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Christopher O'Connor