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Meet Three Artists Performing at Distrito Music Fest Aug. 26

Distrito Music Fest (DMF) is an event in the DMV area that “is the premier annual Hispanic American music festival in the nation’s capital, showcasing the best regional, national, and international acts in celebration of Hispanic heritage and cultural Diversity.” This year, it will be held at Union Stage on Saturday, Aug. 26.

Alchemical Records caught with three members of the festival’s highly anticipated lineup in this previous article, and wanted to catch up with three more as DMF Week approaches.

[Distrito Music Festival 2023 promotional flyer
Distrito Music Fest poster.

Bongo District is one of the hardest working bands in the DMV, showcasing a fusion of sounds as reflected in their multinational lineup,” says Distrito founder Daniel Gomez. Pedro Alfaro is the group’s bass player and one of its singers who is from El Salvador and moved here in 2015. He has been a musician since he was about 13 years old. “I started looking for people that would play the music that I was playing,” he explains. “Long story short, four years after that, we (he and guitar player Luis) finally found the members of Bongo District that are going to remain as the ones that we have right now … It’s just playing songs and styles that we all like, and we all get along because we do it.” The band grew naturally as more and more people wanted to jam, eventually growing to six members, Alfaro says.

The members of Bongo District are from all over: Chile, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and El Salvador. They have been together with this lineup for about two years, “And within that time period – from the time I started playing to now, we have about four to five original songs. But when we make covers, we really make them our own; so it’s not original music, but it’s a mix … we’d like to call what we play a mixture of reggae and cumbia,” Alfaro says. “We like to mix a lot of ska … I really like Jamaican music – all of it, and any generation of it. And when we started playing cumbia, people just seemed to love it,” he adds.

Alfaro thinks DMF is “something the city was long due … For us, it’s going to be like a window of the work that we’ve been doing for two years.” He says the band is starting to branch out more because they are more confident of their material. “I think it’s the moment for us to showcase the songs to other people.” Make sure to stay caught up with Bongo District, and see their upcoming performance!

Bongo District
Bongo District, Courtesy of the band.

Los Novios De Martita are local favorites on the upswing with a diverse lineup, fun stage presence, and great audience connection. Gary Cornejo, lead singer from the group, is from Peru. “We made the band about three years ago, and we met before – I was actually playing cumbia and that’s how I met Mauro (guitar). Cumbia was not our thing,” he says. “We were looking for something more original, and that’s how Los Novios was born. So after about a year, then the other guys came along.” The band is made up of people from Peru, Puerto Rico, and Argentina. They have a unique sound that mixes many different types of rhythms. “It’s mainly rock,” Cornejo says, “However, we like to play with reggae and cumbia; we like to mix a lot of Latino rhythms.”

He describes how the group sadly couldn’t make the festival last year, so they’re excited for this time around. It’s a great opportunity for them to display their original songs, something they don’t often get to do, he says. “We are really excited to know how people are going to react to that.” About DMF, Cornejo adds, “I think it’s really interesting to have a festival that includes all Latinos as one community so that way we can get to know each other, get to know other other Latino bands that are in our same position – we are all trying to grow a fan base. It’s interesting to actually get to know all the different people in the community.” He agrees that the DMV music community is one of a kind.

“We are really thankful to the people that included us in the festival,” Cornejo says. The band is excited to put on a good show for a good cause. Come hear Los Novios de Martita’s eclectic sound at Distrito Music Festival, and make sure to keep up with the band!

Los Novios de Martita
Los Novios de Martita, Courtesy of the band.

Pekeke Project, a seasoned international act with extensive touring, performing, and recording experience, is led by the one and only Pekeke (Omar Alicea Valentin). The “Project” part, he explains, comes from how the venture is not only a solo one, but a group effort. His band is part of his success. “I’ve been performing in Puerto Rico and in the Caribbean and Latino communities for over 25 years,” he says. 

He was also the first Puerto Rican to perform at the Coachella Festival in Santa Monica, California. After Hurricane Maria, he had to move to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, and decided to move to the DMV six years ago. “After I moved here, I came with a history of Puerto Rican rock and Latino culture and I’m a very proud Puerto Rican.” As for his music he says, “I love to press buttons – I think rock ’n roll needs that, and I feel very proud of being that face for the Puerto Rican scene.”

Pekeke is “very honored” to be performing at this year’s Distrito Music Festival: “It is super important to be part of this. It’s as simple as the DMV music scene is amazing and they’ve been doing amazing stuff, usually underground … But but we got a lot of impressive music out there and festivals like the Music Fest which are taking that stand to represent the DMV music scene and give them a chance.” 

This year, he promises to bring the rock and roll: “You’re going to see from the Project something that I really wanted to do two years ago, and now that I got my band … what we’re gonna do is gonna be very freaking amazing.” A unique aspect of Pekeke Project’s performance at the 2023 Distrito Music Festival is that the band will be recording their whole set – “I’m planning on releasing a live album from this concert.” Make sure to listen to Pekeke Project and buy your tickets to DMF to be a part of DMV musical history!

Pekeke performing with the Project, Courtesy of Pekeke Project.
Pekeke performing with the Project, Courtesy of Pekeke Project.

If there’s anything I learned from speaking to the performers from this year’s Distrito Music Fest, I noticed they all have one thing in common: they love to make people dance. Be one of those dancing people on Saturday, Aug. 26 at Union Stage! Buy your tickets here.

Alchemical Records contributor Emma Page

Emma Page

Emma Page, a recent Journalism graduate of The George Washington University, possesses a passion for music journalism and storytelling in all its forms. Originally from Baltimore, MD, when she is not writing, she can be found at a local concert or making music of her own.

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