Band of the hour: Araka
In the words of Hall & Oates, "watch out!" Here comes Araka.
By Rayme Samuels
Spanish slang for "watch out!," no moniker could be more perfect for Araka, a local band shaking up the music scene. Joining forces for an impromptu jam session at Jazid over a year ago ended in an explosion of guitar riffs and had everyone in the lounge wondering, "just who are these guys?" Luckily for us, they came together every Tuesday after that and eventually decided to unify and start writing music.
Araka consists of four larger-than-life musicians from diverse backgrounds. Michael Campillo, otherwise known as Mikey, is the bands' high-energy guitarist hailing from Cuba and gets his inspiration from Jimi Hendrix. Eddie Perdomo, the drummer from the Dominican Republic, incorporates his passion for heavy metal and reggae into every song. Bruno Mendez, singer and bassist of Peruvian descent and lover all of Latin music including salsa and merengue, adds a touch of sabor to the outfit. Chris Richards, the newest member of the group, rounds things out on horns.
Fusion defines Araka's music style. The foursome effortlessly melds Latin rhythms, funk, ska, reggae and rock. Finding inspiration in artists like Sublime, Cultura Profetica, Hector Lavoe and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, this band embraces their different musical roots in order to fuse their sound in the creation of a unique Latin reggae groove. "Our fans are people that love to enjoy music -- they jump, dance and enjoy," said vocalist Bruno Mendez. Nothing is more rewarding to the band than to see their fans close their eyes and sing along with them during a performance, which is happening more and more often as word gets out about their skills.
Performing in both English and Spanish every Tuesday night at Jazid, Araka presents lyrics that paint a picture of what happens in their everyday lives. In "Bye Bye Baby" we follow a story about coming to grips with a breakup, and in "Oscuridad" audiences enjoy infectious reggae beats blended with lyrics in Spanish. Amidst a busy gig schedule in South Florida, Araka is also currently laying down tracks in the studio. Keep your eyes peeled for their first album, to be released in December 2008.
Araka performs 11 p.m. Saturday, June 21st, at Jazid, 1342 Washington Ave, Miami Beach.