Cumbia and Vallenato are Colombian Afro-Indigenous folk music and dance traditions that have been updated with many fusions. They’ve become Andean pop music.
Cumbia is originally from Caribbean Colombia. It is popular across Latin America, but especially in Mexico. La Sonora Dinamita was one of the first Cumbia bands to go global.
Vallenato rhythms are similar, but more Andean. It’s very Colombian. The city of Valledupar in an Andean valley in Cesar Department, Colombia is Vallenato’s spiritual home.
Peru and Venezuela have Psychedelic Cumbia Rock traditions that are pretty cool. Chicha Libre sounds like Cumbia surf guitar. Some Venezuelan bands like Los Crema Paraiso and Locobeach bring Venezuelan Modern Art visual traditions into the mix.
Dutch DJ Dick Verdult created Cumbia House music in Argentina.
Cumbia NYC & Vallenato NYC
Los Cumpleanos play Colombian Psychedelic Cumbia at Barbès in Park Slope, Brooklyn on Fri, Dec 17 from 11pm – 1am. $20. 🇦🇷🇨🇴
Wilmer Manga y Las Musas del Vallenato play Colombian Vallenato at Sabor Latino in Elmhurst, Queens on Fri, Dec 17 after midnight (9pm doors). From $40. 🇨🇴
Agua Bella, Jaime Enrique Aymara and Harin El Indio play Colombian and Ecuadorian Cumbia Pop at Sabor Latino in Elmhurst, Queens after midnight (9pm doors). From $35. 🇨🇴🇪🇨
La Sonora Dinamita celebrates New Year’s Eve with Colombian Cumbia at Sabor Latino in Elmhurst, Queens on Fri, Dec 31 after midnight (9pm doors). From $35. 🇨🇴
Tamy Sol & Grupo Acustica play Ecuadorian Cumbia Pop at Sabor Latino in Elmhurst, Queens on Sat, Jan 8 after midnight (9pm doors). From $20. 🇪🇨
The Cumbia River Band plays Colombian Cumbia at Symphony Space in the Upper West Side on Fri, Jan 21 at 7:30pm. $30. 🇨🇴
Cumbia & Vallenato Venues
These venues play some Cumbia. Sabor Latino plays a lot.
- Barbès nightclub in Park Slope, Brooklyn. 🇫🇷🇵🇪
- La Boom nightclub in Woodside, Queens. 🇲🇽
- Sabor Latino restaurant in Elmhurst, Queens. 🇪🇨
- SOB’s Sounds of Brazil nightclub in Hudson Square. 🇧🇷
- Terraza 7 bar and nightclub in Elmhurst, Queens. 🇨🇴
ID Studio Theater in Mott Haven, The Bronx. 🇨🇴
Thalia Spanish Theatre in Sunnyside, Queens. 🇪🇸
Like all culture, the traditions began as family expressions of faith and community in small towns.
Cumbia is coastal folk music and dance from Colombia and Panama. It was popularized in the 1940s by Colombian record companies.
Andres Landero (1932-2000) was an early composer who is known as “El Rey de la Cumbia” (The King of Cumbia). Chicha Libre out of Barbès in Park Slope, Brooklyn play a psychedelic version of Peruvian Cumbia which is a lot of fun.
Vallenato is Colombian mountain cowboy music. It’s a troubadour type of tradition. Rafael Escalona (1926-2009) was an important early composer. A 1991 Colombian telenovela about his life starred Carlos Vives. Vives fused Vallenato and Rock which broadened the audience. He is now the icon of modern Vallenato. Gregorio Uribe is New York City’s version.
Cumbia & Vallenato Artists
Many Latin artists play some Cumbia. Calle 13 is Latin Hip-Hop, but their breakthrough song “Atévete-Te-Te” was a Cumbia.
Past Cumbia & Vallenato in NYC
Grupo 5 plays Peruvian Cumbia at La Boom in Woodside, Queens on Fri, Dec 10, 2021 at 10pm. From $65. 🇵🇪