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Scaled-Down Twilight Concert Series Kicks Off on Santa Monica Pier Wednesday


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By Jorge Casuso

September 4, 2018 -- Santa Monica's Twilight concert series is kicking off when it would normally end -- in September -- with a "Latin Wave" lineup featuring Havana's Orquesta Akokán sweeping onto the Pier Wednesday.

The end-of-summer start is part of an effort by the City to scale down the wildly popular series that grew into a regional draw that attracted crowds so large City officials feared for the public's safety.

Orquesta Akokan
Orquesta Akokán (Courtesy of the band)

Instead of world-renown stars performing on a single stage in front of crowds that often spilled onto the beach, the 34th annual concert series this kick off this week with four acts on three stages in different parts of the Pier.

Orquesta Akokán, which will take the main stage Wednesday, promises to "ignite the festival with ferocious wind and rhythm sections that move like one giant rhythmic machine," event organizers said.

The band is composed of "a dozen or so of Cuba’s most ferocious and pedigreed wind and rhythm players from storied groups including Irakere and Los Van Van, the sensational veteran vocalist José “Pepito” Gómez, and a handful of seasoned young New York Latin music freaks," wrote Martín Perna, Antibalas.

Opening on the main stage for Orquesta Akokán is Jarina De Marco, "a creative visionary whose work defiantly transcends categories and borders embodying the multi-ethnic future," according to concert organizers.

Taking the west end stage is Quitapenas -- which means "to remove worries" -- a California Afro-Latin combo that borrows its aesthetics "from the radical 60s, 70s and 80s," according to the band's site.

Sister Mantos, who will perform on the Pacific Park stage, offers "a blend of Latin beats, punk attitude and funk rhythms" in a repertoire of songs that are" all about love, empowerment and utopia," organizers said.

The series -- which wraps up on Sunday, October 7 -- showcase artists from different corners of the globe complemented with "region-specific culinary and craft vendors and immersive art" incorporated throughout the Pier.

"Twilight on the Pier will feel different in a lot of ways from past years," said Negin Singh, executive director of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation, "but the spirit stays the same: getting people from all walks of life together to connect in a glorious setting with music and art."


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