Cimafunk (Erik Alejandro Rodriguez) made waves last week while performing at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX. The sold-out show was the musician’s first performance in the United States. NPR music writer Felix Contreras described the experience of listening to Cimafunk as, "a perfect mash up of Cuban music and James Brown with a big dose of Parliament Funkadelic."
The artist has exploded to the forefront of the Cuban music scene with a powerful sound that blends Latin rhythms with Afro-Cuban textures and popular funk influence. Immediately following SXSW, Rodriguez returned home to Cuba to headline the Havana World Music Festival and the artist is now set to play two shows in Philadelphia later this week.
“I can’t wait to calentar the city of brotherly love,” Cimafunk told AL DÍA News. “I’m looking forward to making Philly dance.”
A blend of Afro-cuban and U.S. influence
The singer and songwriter’s unique sound combines American funk music with Afro-Cuban textures and Latin beats. Cimafunk’s stage name takes inspiration from the Cimarrones, slaves who escaped from plantations in Cuba and to create their own settlements and generate new forms of expression.
Although often associated with famous acts that emerged in the United States during the 1960s, such as James Brown and Sly Stone, the rhythmic roots of funk music trace back generations to West African music traditions maintained by generations of enslaved Africans in the Americas. Those traditions evolved in Cuban music, which in turn had a significant impact on New Orleans jazz during the 1940s.
Cimafunk pulls influence from an eclectic range of acts. He cites classic Cuban artists, such as Beny Moré and Bola de Nieve, as well as the more recent Juan Formell, as having impacted his style. He also takes inspiration from funk and soul icons from the United States, such as James Brown, George Clinton, Bill Withers, Prince, and Lionel Richie.
Two live shows in Philadelphia
Cimafunk will arrive in Philadelphia on Friday, March 29, to play two shows in one evening. The first performance will take place at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House at 5 p.m. as part of the Wharton School of Business Annual Latin American Conference (WHALAC). He will follow that up with a concert at the Moore College of Art shortly afterwards at 8 p.m.
Celestially-inspired Colombian-American drummer Dilemastronauta will join him to play at the Moore College show.
A packed weekend continues on Saturday morning for Cimafunk. He will take part in a panel discussion at the UPenn Wharton School of Business Annual Latin American Conference (WHALAC) about culture and entrepreneurship.
Tickets to the WHALAC conference are available online at www.whalac.com. The conference will unite business leaders, government representatives and educators to share insight and strengthen community. It will assess how the Latin American region can overcome its economic, social, and environmental challenges to become a model for development in the global context.