I recently had the fortune of spending some time in Barranquilla, Colombia while traveling through the country with my P.N.C. Carlota Melo. During this time we were lucky to link up with picó enthusiast, record collector, and blogger Fabian Altahona from Africolombia blog, who turned out to be a better host than we ever could have imagined. On multiple different visits over a two month period, Fabian took us to a wealth of different places in and around Barranquilla. From Discolombia–the retail outlet for Felito records–to the houses of painters William Gutierrez and Dairo Barriosnuevo, to the numerous picós around the city–both old and new–all of the different sites and people who we met were amazing.We both owe a big thanks to Fabian for taking us in and really opening up a window on the rich musical and artistic traditions of Barranquilla and Soledad, and on the uniquely Colombian but unmistakably Caribbean as well as African world of the picós.
Top to bottom we have El Gran Fidel in Edilberto De la Hoz’s yard, one of the many fine replicas of Colombia’s foundation sound systems that we visited in Soledad; Fabian himself with El Rumbero at painter William Gutierrez’s house in Barrio Santo Domingo, Barranquilla. Next up is the first set we actually got to hear, El Isleño replica operated by Angel Correa Fontalvo in Las Nieves, Barranquilla. Angel strung up El Isleño outside his house on the morning we were there and proceeded to play a wicked selection of various styles of African music, dancehall, and a little salsa.
El Boby was the only truly current picó that we heard playing up to the time music for a young audience, here they are in a verbena run by Familia Palma also in Las Nieves. It was interesting to hear the difference in music styles between these guys and the more traditionalist sets, but for me the best part was the footwork some of these kids were breaking out–words don’t do justice. The last photo is of another of the replicas in Soledad belonging to Asorepik–an association of friends with replica picós who try to preserve the tradition of the classic sets from the seventies and eighties–El Concorde, operated by Jhon Fabregas.
For more pictures and information about picós check out Africolombia blog.