Maria Jose Montijo actuará en el Encuentro del Canto Popular en el Teatro Brava. Maria Jose Montijo will perform at Encuentro del Canto Popular in the Brava Theater. Photo Mabel Jiménez

In April of 1982, a group of artists, musicians, and activists congregated at New College of California on Valencia Street to celebrate the First Annual Encuentro del Canto Popular, a cultural event that would swiftly become a San Francisco institution.

This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the Encuentro, honoring musicians who participated in the early days of the event while looking towards the future by presenting talented emerging, local groups.

The 2013 Encuentro del Canto Popular will feature a tribute to musician/activist Jon Fromer, who was instrumental in organizing the Encuentro for many years, as well as a homage to Rafael Manriquez, who performed at the first Encuentro in 1982 with Grupo Raiz.

Jose Montoya, who appeared with his band Casindio at several Encuentros, will also be honored with a poetic tribute.

But this year’s festivities do not only recall the rich history of this cultural institution. The winners of the “Encuentritos” concert series held throughout this year will also perform, highlighting the bright future of our music community with talented local young artists.

Latin-indie-surf-rockers Dot Punto will kick off the festivities at 7 p.m. in Brava Theater’s lobby, along with activities such as tortilla silkscreening, local vendors, and food.

At 8 p.m. in the main theater the concert will open with Maria Jose Montijo, a singer and songwriter from Puerto Rico who also plays the Celtic harp, accompanied by an eclectic acoustic band to support her ethereal, floating voice.

And if people want to leave the concert, they will have to dance their way out past Lina Torrio and Mestiza, who will rock the afterparty with their soulful “son de Oakland.”

“What a great privilege it is to open up the Encuentro,” said Katya Lopez, singer and keyboardist of Dot Punto. “We had an amazing year, our first music video, TV and radio interviews, and many new friends and fans. Now we get to play at this important music festival.”

Dot Punto was one of six local groups who performed at this year’s concert series and battle-of-the bands “Encuentritos,” put on by Acción Latina.

Besides highlighting new talent in the Bay Area, this year’s Encuentro del Canto Popular honors some of the pillars of the music community who participated in many Encuentros over the years, such as Rafael Manriquez of Grupo Raiz, who performed at the first festival.

“It’s so wonderful that Acción Latina is honoring my dad this year,” said Marci Valdivieso Manriquez, daughter of Rafael Manriquez. “I know many people in the community are looking forward to Rafa’s tribute.”

Without any doubt, it will be a historic concert with world-class music of cultural significance specific to San Francisco’s Latino/a community.

The 32nd Encuentro del Canto Popular will be held at the Brava! Theater on Dec. 7 starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at More information can be found at or by calling 415-648-1045 x102.