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No Sleep Until NYC, Chicago And Philly: A Latin Alternative Feast

Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman at Ruido Fest 2015 in Chicago.
Catalina Maria Johnson
Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman at Ruido Fest 2015 in Chicago.
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Our little corner of the music world seems to be getting bigger and bigger.

Earlier this month, there were three music festivals in one weekend dedicated exclusively to Latin alternative music. They reflected the genre's growth and popularity in very distinct ways. To get to the bottom of this, we attended each of them to gauge their impact and check out the music.

Chicago celebrated the inaugural Ruido Fest, a three-day extravaganza of lucha libre-themed stages filled with the biggest names in this music as well as some of the more promising up-and-coming bands.

New York was again the site of the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC), the pioneering gathering of musicians, industry professionals and media dedicated to challenging the status quo of Spanish-language music. After 16 years, the LAMC has become not just an insider's hang but also a major part of the NYC summer cultural scene, with a week's worth of shows in clubs and theaters plus a big blowout in Central Park.

And Philadelphia stepped up to the plate with a smaller but no less enthusiastic and dedicated group of musicians rocking out a vintage burlesque theater in Chinatown for Nuevo Fest.

Click on this week's show to hear how each festival distinguished itself while contributing to the wider Latin alternative scene. All this activity was a definite high water mark for the music and the people who listen to it.

And there is a lesson to draw from all this. While some of the bigger, mainstream outdoor festivals seem to be ignoring this music, others are taking an enthusiastic plunge into the vast demographic of young Latinos who want to get together on warm summer days to hear something of themselves blaring from multiple stages.

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Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.