At first glance the whole idea of a conference to discuss Latin Alternative Music in Toronto seems a bit strange. Alternative to what? Can there really be a Toronto Latin music underground when there's no visible overground? Toronto has a sizable Latin community that's actually many communities. You only need to go to an Isaac Delgado show or one of Billy Bryans's regular Lula Lounge salsa/timba throwdowns and count the flags to see how diverse and prominent the scene is. For all the different groups, their shared players and their fanatical support, though, this is a scene that actually exists beneath the underground.
Unlike in the United States, where the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) started, the influence of Latin culture on pop music barely registers here. Latin music reaches about as far in Canada as the latest Jane Bunnett travelogue.
Split between showcases and seminars, the conference looks geared to kick-start whatever burgeoning scene exists into the next gear. Looking beyond salsa to see how the Latin sound is spreading is an admirable goal, but it's puzzling that none of the major musicians on the Toronto scene are on the panels or playing the conference's showcases.
Hearing from some of the local players about what it's like to fill rooms but still be largely ignored by the Canadian music industry would be interesting and entertaining, and might actually shed some light on how the scene could grow here. Maybe next year.
email@example.com LAMC showcases Bajofondo Tango Club , DJ Radames & Noel Nanton and Manu Chao film screening at Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas West), Friday (August 8).
DJ Osa , DJ Loke , DJ Grouch , Bomba and DJ Radames at Sunrise Records (336 Yonge), Saturday (August 9), noon-4 pm.
Plastilina Mosh , Bomba , DJ Kemo , Don Primo and DJ Afro at Mockingbird (580 King West), Saturday (August 9).