It's been denigrated and damned, boycotted and banned, but it can never be stopped: champeta (a term that refers to a knife used by fishermen to remove fish scales) is the ever-evolving, high-energy hybrid of Colombian, African and Afro-Caribbean styles. Leading the way is Bogota-based band Tribu Baharú, whose version of champeta was inspired by the legendary, street-shaking Pico sound-systems of Colombia's Caribbean coast, but has evolved into a live stage show with sparkling Congolese guitar driven by high-speed bass and drums and effervescent upfront singers.
Tribu Baharú's champeta sits alongside that of La Makina del Karibe; present are the sound system deejay yelps and calls to action and the West African guitar work, as are the skipping electronic beats (a must since the style took on its modern incarnation in the '80s with interpretations by the likes of Elio Boom and Louis Towers). What's different now is the pace (This music is fast!), as well as the denser production (full of effects and extra flourishes), and the years of refining the style. In the '90s, champeta was swept away by the ubiquitous reggaeton (blending musical influences of Jamaican dancehall and Trinidadian soca with those of Latin America), but Tribu Baharú are part of a wave of 'nuevas musicas Colombianas' (new Colombian music) who are re-establishing it as a prime force and adding more ingredients to the recipe. Warning! - it may contain traces of soukous, zouk, calypso, mbaqanga, soca, compa Haitiano, rap and ragamuffin! Once this TD Sunfest dance party is over, you can go online to Mixcloud and immerse yourself in Tribu Baharú's DJ mixes, radio shows, and podcasts, featuring the happening sounds of DJ Makala, Movimientos, DJ Cal Jader, and more.