Raleigh rockeros Tercer Divisa Nacional had a lonely 12:30 spot atop the program at Cary's Festival Ritmo Latino this year. Nonetheless, they rocked it out for the first few festival goers huddled in the heat at the Sertoma bandshell in Bond Park.
Now a quartet, Tercer Divisa Nacional has changed its membership in recent times, but not its m.o.: politically conscious, blues and metal-influenced, Mexico City-style rock. They label themselves "rock 'n' roll urbano," a reference to the Distrito Federal origins of half its members, but "rock en español" also fits--depending on what that says to you. The band follows much more in the tradition of nationally known Mexican rock bands like Maldita Vecindad and El Tri, rather than the internationalized pop sounds of a Juanes or a Carlos Santana.
So what's new? As recently as 2009, the band had swollen to 7 members, all male. Now, its four-member core is halfsies damas y caballeros. That's no coincidence: Cyndra, a trained jazz singer, is married to drummer and co-founder Luis "El Italiano," while bassist/ co-founder David is romantic partners with lead guitarist Meagan. While they are all flamboyant salsa dancers in the street-flavored DF style (which one rarely sees anymore amid the flush of mambo and rueda schools), you won't hear any of that in Divisa Nacional; what they play is more like a form of immigration blues, empowered by joyous rock energy.
I had something else to do midday, but arrived back at the festival around 6ish see what headliner Tropic Orchestra has been up to these days. There have been some changes to the lineup; "new" was Cesar Oviedo on piano, Cesar Cordero on congas, and Abdala Saghir on timbales. The repertoire was pretty much unchanged; there was a merengue I don't recall hearing before (but might have), and a 'stone soup' cha cha chá, throwing together progressions and coros from a bunch of familiar danzones and boogaloos. Their usual salsa standards included "Rebelion," "La Murga," and "Todo Tieno Su Final." There was an initial delay for soundcheck, pushing the dance over until 7 pm; the PA system was a bit loud and distorting, but salsa dancers had their usual good time.
Check out these adorable little kids, dressed up and ready to perform with one of the folkloric dance ensembles at the Festival. Preciosura!