The Encuentro del Canto Popular festival returns to San Francisco Nov. 21-22 for its 33rd year of music from local and international singer-songwriters, in support of progressive cultural and political movements for Latinos and Caribeños.
The Encuentro has been a staple of San Francisco since its founding in 1982 by volunteers from El Tecolote, New College of California and Bay Area musicians.
Today the event is managed by Acción Latina, the Mission-based nonprofit that incorporated in 1987 to ensure the longevity of both the Encuentro and El Tecolote.
“Some of the people I met when I first started volunteering with the Encuentro del Canto Popular Committee in the early 1980s are still involved today,” said Georgiana Hernandez, executive director of Acción Latina. “Betty Pazmiño, who was also on that committee more than 30 years ago, will be one of our emcees this year. So yes, the commitment to this genre of music is pretty deep.”
Carlos Disdier of La Bohemia Productions, which is co-organizing this year’s event with Acción Latina, said: “In a time when the Mission faces issues of rapid gentrification, the Encuentro del Canto Popular provides the community with a breath of fresh air and a lineup of artists expressing solidarity and hope for Latino arts in San Francisco.”
The festival will open with the legendary Tito Auger, an iconic figure in Puerto Rican music.
Co-headliners LoCura and Rupa and the April Fishes, are two local bands with international roots that converged in San Francisco. Both bands exhibit music that crosses borders and that isn’t afraid to be categorized as rebel music. Rupa and the April Fishes are Mission natives with a deep connection to local grassroots movements and the Latino community.
The lineup also includes up-and-coming musical acts that should be on everyone’s radar such as Irene Diaz, Alejandro y Maria Laura, and David Aguilar. Hailing from Los Angeles, Peru, and Mexico, respectively, these artists are not strangers to the Bay Area, but this year’s Encuentro marks the first time that they will all share one stage.
Both Diaz and Aguilar are basking in the success of their recently released albums, while Alejandro y Maria Laura have just recorded the HBO special “Encuentros en Brasil.”
Over the years, the festival has continued to reinvent itself with the many acts that have graced its stage, but it has kept true to its roots by promoting local and international Latino music and performance art that represents non-commercial, humanitarian values, and that highlights issues of social justice.
In fact, Encuentro has a history of being the place to see artists before they make their mark internationally, as was the case with the now popular band, La Santa Cecilia, who played at the festival two years ago before winning a Grammy Award the following year.
In addition to the music at the concert, the festival also boasts a night of dance in the form of Mexican folklórico Estrellas de Esperanza, a youth group from Watsonville, California.
The festival will have various pre-concert activities including food, arts and crafts, vendors, and more. Make sure to get there early to catch some of these activities and shop at Artillery Apparel Gallery.
The 33rd Encuentro del Canto Popular will be held at the Brava Theater on Nov. 21-22 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at brava.org.