You won't get more bang for your Latin music buck all year than at Cary's Regency Park this weekend. If you're a grown-up, $15 gets you six bands and some folkloric dance troupes for good measure at the Festival Ritmo Latino this Sunday, July 10 (niños under 12 are free). Graze and gaze at the Latin food court and arts and crafts plaza. Want to make a flashy entrance and you've got lana to burn? Shell out $30 more for a VIP ticket that includes food, reserved parking and a box seat.
Headlining the 2-8 p.m. show at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre are Colombian band Sonora Carruseles. Literally a spinning carousel of hits from the '60s and '70s, this salsa, boogaloo and cumbia cover band is not a ride for the faint of heart: "a terrifying machinery of non-stop swing," according to one critic. Brazilian-Panamanian star Erika Ender has a crunchy bubblegum image, but the singer-songwriter produces her own happy brand of Latin dance pop inflected with vallenata and samba.
Diamante, the private Hispanic nonprofit behind the Festival, wisely fills out the program by supporting regional live music--some of the Triangle's longest lasting and best loved salsa bands, from the Carnavalito All Stars to La Sexta Clave. Solazo brings down some Cuban and South American sounds from their rancho grande in Floyd County, Va. And while Mariachi Mexico 2000 may not literally be singing cowboys, they sure do look like it wearing trajes de charro.