If rock, country, and folk music all have their own high-end festivals, Latin music deserves one, too.
This is the idea behind Sabor + Ritmo, a day-long Latin music fiesta Sept. 9 at Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa.
The festival’s name translates to “Flavor + Rhythm,” and it has promised to bring together on one stage some of the biggest names in Latin music today, including Grammy and Latin Grammy-nominees and winners Ángela Aguilar, Manuel Turizo, La Adictiva, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.
Also on the schedule: a culinary area that will feature food and light bites from iconic local restaurants such as La Calenda, Ad Hoc, Brigachero Brazilian, Los Agaves, Mariapilar ice cream, and the Platanito Pupusa Truck; as well as a winery area that spotlights Ceja Vineyards and nearly two dozen other local Latinx-owned wineries.
The festival is the brainchild of Julissa Marcencia, a recent transplant to Napa from Southern California. Marcencia has been a music fan all her life, and for years lamented the fact that Latin music rarely gets the kind of “elevated” music festival that other genres get.
With this festival, she aims to reverse that trend, and give Latin music fans a signature experience they can call their own.
“Among my friends and cousins and family, we feel that there’s (no music festival) that really caters to us,” Marcencia said. “We’re put in this box of ‘immigrant population’ or in the ‘whitewash’ category. Our reality is bicultural.
“We’ve been fighting for a dual reality for a long time. Now, with this event, finally, we have what we’ve wanted for years.”
Nevertheless, she persevered
Marcencia first had the idea for Sabor + Ritmo in 2017, just after she and her partner moved to Napa from Los Angeles.
The duo got to the point of booking acts and lineup partners when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. The pandemic halted progress, but Marcencia never lost sight of her vision.
When Napa Valley emerged from lockdown in summer 2021, Marcencia renewed her push to get the festival going. She phoned wineries. She met chefs. She leveraged contacts she had from stints at MTV and Univision to line up some of the best and most beloved acts in Latin music today.
Then she secured the venue — the popular golf resort just miles north of downtown Napa.
By last summer, Sabor + Ritmo had a lineup, a location and a plan to make Sabor + Ritmo a household name.
All told, the festival will feature more than 10 live performances, as well as Mariachi and dance.
“We got these top-level performers and they’re all performing on one stage over the course of the day,” said Marcencia, who added she expects a crowd of about 6,000. “Even for people who haven’t ever really heard Latin music, it’s going to be great.”
Lineup of stars
Technically, the event has five headliners. Angela Aguilar is one of them.
Considered “La Princesa de la Música Mexicana,” the 19-year-old Aguliar has become an icon in the Latinx community for the way she tackles her identity as a bicultural woman (she is of Mexican and American descent). She also is Latin music royalty — her father is popular regional Mexican music singer Pepe Aguilar, and her paternal grandparents are Mexican singer-actors Antonio Aguilar and Flor Silvestre.
Some of her latest achievements include such honors as being nominated for a Grammy as well as being a four-time Latin Grammy nominee. She is the youngest woman to reach the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts, and for the last months has been sitting in the Top 3 for her song “Que Agonia” with Yuridia.
In an email interview with The Press Democrat, Aguilar said she is excited for the Sept. 9 show.
“To all my friends in and around Napa Valley…you can’t miss this (festival), there’ll be lots of artists, lots of fun for the whole family,” she said.
Colombian singer Manuel Turizo also likely will be a big draw. His smash hit “La Bachata” is one of the most streamed tracks globally in the last year, with over 969 million total streams.
Latin music fans are eagerly anticipating his next album, 2000, in part because it features collaborations with María Becerra, Marshmello, Shakira and many others.
Epic food and wine
Other stars at Sabor + Ritmo excel in different crafts.
The festival will feature a tequila and mezcal patio, where guests can sample several different variations on the theme of agave spirits. A wide garden will spotlight about 20 different Latino-owned wineries.
Las del Vino, for example, is a wine company that will be pouring its Las Amigas sparkling wine during the event. Co-founder Lola Llamas said she is excited to serve wine from a Latin-owned winery to fans of Latin music at an event specifically created to celebrate Latin culture.
“What an amazing opportunity for our community and Latin music fans to have an event like this right in our backyard,” said Llamas, whose brand is based in Napa. “It’s an honor to (participate in) an event of this caliber.
“I look forward to being a part of a fun day filled with some great Latin music, food, wine and, of course, bubbles.”
Food options will vary widely and represent a vast cross-cultural vibe. Among the highlights are pastries and food from several Mexican states, arepas, chocolates from Brazil, and ceviche in a style that hails from Peru.
Marcencia noted that weather could be hot on the day of the event, and said ceviche should be particularly refreshing.
“All the food will be delicious, but that ceviche should hit the spot if it’s hot,” she said.