KXLU’s Alma del Barrio marks 44 years with ‘Salsa Fest III’

Las Chikas are on the roster of independent Latin bands playing at LMU on Sunday

For 44 years a mix of salsa, Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz has been the soundtrack of KXLU 88.9 FM’s Alma del Barrio radio program from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

That soundscape comes to life on Sunday at Loyola Marymount University when Alma del Barrio celebrates its 44th anniversary by presenting its third annual Salsa Fest. They’ll be food vendors, a large dance floor and, of course, plenty of live music.

In a nod to the program’s Brazilian hour with Sergio Mielniczenko, this year’s festival highlights Brazilian music as well as L.A. bands, explains Alma del Barrio deejay Guido Herrera-Yance.

“The city of Los Angeles has at least 60 [salsa] bands,” he says. “So we decided to have a local concert, instead of bringing a band from Puerto Rico.”

The lineup includes some of L.A.’s most talented Latin bands, including Cuban musical ensemble La Charanga Cubana; the all-female salsa group Las Chikas; Latin jazz, R&B, pop and soul quartet Conganas, New York-style salsa ensemble Conjunto Costazul; and Brazilian samba soul and rock band Os Zagueiros.

Conjunto Costazul and the Grammy-nominated La Charanga Cubana are long-time veterans of the L.A. salsa circuit, while Os Zagueiros are brand new to the scene. But all the bands exemplify KXLU’s independent spirit.

“Our job is to showcase independent artists, because at the end of the day commercial artists, they have a way to find their route to the public,” says Herrera-Yance. “But non-commercial or independent producers, they don’t have the funds to have a marketing plan, and I think, for us, part of our job is to let the public know there is more music than what commercial radio feeds us every day. ”

That’s part of the reason why KXLU puts on the Salsa Fest, he says — to “let people know that Alma del Barrio is still here and to showcase the talent we still have in Los Angeles.”


— Christina Campodonico

Alma del Barrio’s “Salsa Fest III” happens from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 16, at Loyola Marymount University’s Sunken Garden, 1 LMU Drive, Westchester. Free. Visit facebook.com/almadelbarriokxlu88.9fm for updates.