Meet the Band Making ‘Rebetiko’ Music Popular in Latin America

The band includes members, Diego Saez, Trumper-Ukulele (Chile), Pier Paolo Candeloro – Sax Tenor/alto (Italy)Ugne Daniele Reikalaite – Voice guiro/maracas (Lithuania), Diego Bernal – Darbuka (Catalunya/Spain), Gasmany Almanza – Bass (Peru), Luis Ducharne – Trumpet (Venezuela), Marco Baranzano – Electric guitar (Spain), Jose Carlos Olmo – Drums (Spain)

It is Greek music, as well as Lithuanian, South American, Turkish and much more. This is the unique sound created by fusion band Balkumbia.

Having recently celebrated their fifth anniversary as a band, Balkumbia has created a new sound, combining Balkan melodies with Latin rhythms, including the sounds of its band members, who come from Spain, Chile, Lithuania, Venezuela, Italy and Peru.

In recent years, Balkumbia has performed over 300 concerts in 16 countries throughout North and South America, as well as Europe.

The band began as a group of friends meeting in Barcelona in 2014-15, sharing music and ideas. As they developed their own sound, they started playing in local bars, cafes and jam sessions.

“Most of the band members share a great love for Greek culture and Greek traditional music,” Balkumbia singer Ugnė Danielė tells Greek Reporter. The band has also shown a strong preference for the Greek ‘Rebetiko’ music.

“Balkumbia is a fusion of immigrant rhythms that will lead you to understand and appropriate music from different parts of the world. We make music from Eastern Europe mixed with Latin American, but we also have a lot of influence from the music of North Africa, merengue and we play in more than 8 different languages. Listening to Balkumbia is like a trip around the world,” said musician Diego Bernal on reporteindigo.com

From its small stages, Balkumbia then moved on to playing at festivals and, finally, big stages worldwide.

“The group consists of four Spaniards from different regions of the country, two Italians, one Chilean and I, a Lithuanian. Our group also included musicians from Greece, Turkey,Colombia and Peru….We have combined two styles in our music. Cumbria is a South American style that came from African Colombia. Slaves from Africa brought the blues to North America and cumbria to South America. There are already many variations of this style, but its origins are drums and song. We combine this music with the music of the Balkan Peninsula,” said band member Ugnė Danielė Reikalaitė, as reported in 15min.lt.

“We all share the same great passion for travelling, so that always was our first priority. That is why, in our first year of existence we decided to schedule a European tour, also passing through Greece,” according to Ugne Daniele Reikalaite, adding, “Greek music was always a great inspiration to us!”

While all concerts have been cancelled during coronavirus crisis, look for upcoming dates for the band to be heard in Europe -and as they hope- in Greece. “We are currently looking for ways to come to share our music in Greece again as we always felt appreciated there so if anyone have any offers we are excited to hear them!”

“And we are excited to keep it going! (As soon as the pandemic is over of course.),” added Ugne Daniele Reikalaite.