Minneapolis-based band Malamanya got its name from a song lyric, and according to band member Tony Schreiner, it translates as “the bad habit.”
“We wanted to put a positive spin on a negative thing,” he said. “We wanted people to embrace their so-called vices, especially if they are staying up late and dancing.”
The group, playing a blend of vintage Afro-Latin dance music, is the final act at Burnsville’s annual International Festival on July 12.
The event takes place from 3 to 9 p.m. in Nicollet Commons Park and the nearby Ames Center.
The seven-piece Malamanya will perform originals and classics by artists such as Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon, “heavy hitters” Schreiner said, responsible for the Latin salsa explosion in New York in the ‘70s.
They also, he said, like to “dig a little deeper and find a lot of classics that you won’t find other bands playing,” he said, “more of the deep cuts, if you will.”
Schreiner plays upright bass, percussion and the Cuban tres. That’s a folkloric string instrument, something of a cross between a mandolin and a guitar, which is used to play the “montunos,” or syncopated melody lines.
In addition to trumpet, piano and vocals, the group rounds out its sound with a percussion section of congas, timbales (steel drums) and bongos.
“If anybody is curious about Latin folkloric music, to see it performed with a seven piece is a really cool experience,” he said. “Everybody can dance and feel good and feel like they are part of something.”
Dance acts at the festival include groups like Mexican folkloric group Los Alegres Bailadores. Director Rebecca Moran Cusick, said they plan to do “jaranas,” indigenous dances with intricate footwork from the Yucatán, while wearing costumes heavily embroidered with flowers, as well as dances from the Mexican state of Jalisco, with mariachi music and flared, colored ribbon dresses. She said she always likes to include both well- and lesser-known costumes and dances.
“That way, they can learn a little bit more,” she said.
Other acts at the event include the Tiyumba African Drum and Dance Company, the yodeling of the German group Alpensterne, Americana blues by Jeff Ray and the Stakes, Sisters of the Sahara Middle Eastern dance ensemble, Native Pride dancers and the Kalogerson Greek Band & St. Mary’s Helenic Dancers.
During the festival, visitors can view cultural presentations and displays, with objects like currency, crafts, clothing and textiles. People can mark their country of origin or recent homeland on giant maps.
There will be a variety of booths, such as the Sanneh Foundation’s, where soccer fans can meet Tony Sanneh, a previous member of the U.S. World Cup team, and get an autograph.
Kids’ activities include face painting, henna tattoos and cultural art projects, and people can buy food from a variety of vendors, places such as Burnsville’s new East African restaurant, Tawakal, and Tacqueria Hacienda.
“It’s a festival that hits all your senses,” organizer Carlos Lopez said.
According to organizers, the event typically draws around 4,000 people.
An accompanying art exhibit, “Cultural Perspectives: Bringing Heritage Home” starts during the event and runs through Aug. 24. Works include everything from Ojibwe Indian art sculptures to photos of an Alaskan fur market. Artists will be on hand from 4 to 5 p.m. to talk about their work.
Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.