Gustavo Galindo, Mitre & Elsa y Elmar Kick Off BMI's Summer Nights Concert Series in L.A.

Los Angeles has a vibrant Latin music scene, but it’s rare to catch a free yet worthwhile show these days. To that end, BMI hosts its annual Summer Nights concert series at Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park, featuring emerging Latin artists of all stripes in an open-air setting. It’s free, family-oriented fun, and a great place to experience these artists in an intimate setting before they hit the big time.

The 2015 edition of the Latin-themed concert series kicked off Friday night with the sounds of Gustavo Galindo and Mitre, two musicians hailing from Mexico City, and Elsa y Elmar, the electronic indie pop project fronted by Colombian singer Elsa Carbajal.

This year, Carbajal, a Berklee College of Music grad, won the español section of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for her song, “Me Viene Bien” (It Suits Me).

Elsa y Elmar Takes John Lennon Latin Prize

Galindo recently released his new single, “Nada Que Perder” (Nothing to Lose), co-written with Sin Bandera’s Leonel García, which perfectly captures his new attitude toward music. The singer/songwriter received a 2012 Grammy nomination for his alt-rock debut album, Entre la Ciudad y el Mar (Between The City and the Sea). At the time, Galindo was signed to Oscar-winning composer and producer Gustavo Santaolalla’s Universal imprint, Surco. When the latter closed shop, the young musician had a chance to revisit his sound.   

“I got married and have a nine-month-old daughter now; a lot has happened since that first album,” Galindo told Billboard before his set, which included songs from his debut as well as tracks from his upcoming EP, to be released independently later this year.

“I think this next album will be a lot more organic and will play with that folk-y sound that I love. I think my first album was good, but it was very smooth and polished and aimed at radio. At the end of the day you can’t make everyone happy, so you may as well embrace your voice and your sound, whatever it is that makes you unique.”

Mitre, who just released his self-titled sophomore album independently, invited Galindo, as well as singer/songwriters Andie Sandoval, Irene Diaz and Ximena Muñoz, to share the stage with him on Friday night.

The Mexico City native describes his sound as “a perfect blend between alternative, tango, traditional Mexican music, Spaghetti Western and sounds of the world.” That’s almost entirely accurate, except we’d have to add an affinity for Día de los Muertos symbolism in there to truly capture the essence of his sound. Mitre’s latest single, the profoundly melancholy “Casi un Recuerdo” (Almost a Memory), features Díaz and actor Hugo Meléndez in the role of "La Catrina Katarina," a mythical figure representing death who also made a cameo at the BMI concert.

 

A die-hard Morrissey fan, Mitre spent nine months at Sonic Ranch Recording Studios in Tornillo, Texas recording his latest album, which also features a collaboration with Margaret Cho.

“Sonic Ranch is in the desert, which has this magical quality that forces you to confront your demons,” Mitre told Billboard. “The cool thing was interacting with musicians from all over the world who regularly pass through there.”

Mitre had recently suffered the loss of two very important people in his life, his biological mother and his musical coach, when he relocated temporarily to Sonic Ranch. But the recording experience helped him heal, and what came out was “like a soundtrack to a Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez film,” he says, proudly.

The BMI Summer Nights concert series runs through August 21 at the Levitt Pavilion in L.A. Check out the complete line-up here