Over the next two weeks, Rocks Off will be previewing acts performing at this year's Houston International Festival Saturday and Sunday and April 24-25 broken down by genre (loosely, anyway) and with a guest pick from a true insider: iFest Director of Performing Arts Rick Mitchell. Today, a look at a few of the Latin acts on offer... Ozomatli: Ozomatli's crowd-moving blend of Latin-tinged hip-hop and steel-bellied funk can occasionally get out of hand; people in Austin will never forget the SXSW when Ozo's tradition of ending its shows by forming a parade line led to a near-riot on Sixth Street and landed several band members and their manager in jail. Even at their most subdued, though, Ozo brings it. Most recently, several members of influential Southern California public-radio station KCRW remixed songs from Ozomatli's forthcoming album Fire Away (out next week) as part of the station's "Soundclash" series. Check out the results here. (8 p.m. Saturday, April 17, Bud Light World Stage) Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band: Rocks Off has it on good authority - namely, Rick Mitchell told us - that New York-based Palmieri is considered the heir apparent to Tito Puente's big-band salsa throne. Nuff said... count us in. The Spanish Harlem native, who consulted on Paul Simon's The Rhythm of the Saints album, has a new DVD due soon. (6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 18, Bud Light World Stage) Norma Zenteno: Rocks Off is looking forward to correcting one of the most glaring oversights of our tenure at the music helm this weekend: We've never seen Norma Zenteno live. Shame on us, we know, but Zenteno has won a slew of Houston Press music awards while tackling everything from salsa and jazz to rock - sometimes, her bio notes, "in the course of a single blistering evening." Nice to finally make your acquaintance, Norma. (12:30 p.m. Sunday, April 18, Bud Light World Stage; 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 18, Roomstore Latin Stage) Rick's Pick Bachata Roja Legends feat. Puerto Plata: The bachata is a romantic, guitar-based style that was popular in the Dominican Republic and throughout the Caribbean and Mexico prior to the rise of more contemporary styles such as merengue and reggaeton. It is enjoying a comeback with young listeners and dancers for its elegance and restraint. This group, often compared to Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club, features 86-year-old Puerto Plata on lead vocals and guitar, along with several other legends from an earlier era and a supportive band of younger musicians. (6 p.m., Saturday, April 17, Center Stage; 4 p.m. Sunday, April 18, Center Stage)
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