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Live Reviews

Lila Downs
August 8, 2008

By Ernest Barteldes

Celebrate Brooklyn
Prospect Park



A few minutes after the sun finally set in Brooklyn, Lila Downs hit the stage backed by a 7-piece band, delivering a high-energy set that included many songs from the soon-to-be-unreleased Shake Away (Manhattan Records) and some material from her previous discs. The audience, which was mostly made up of Latino fans, cheered loudly as she began “Tacha,” an upbeat ranchera from 2006's La Cantina, and also welcomed “Tierra de Luz,” a song that she recorded as a duet with Argentinean singer Mercedes Sosa.

One of the most interesting moments of the concert came when she performed “Minimum Wage,” a tune from the new disc that speaks of the hardships of the illegal immigrants who

cross the desert in search of a better life for themselves and their families. On the screen behind her, the lyrics streamed both in English and in Spanish. In a live format, the tune

had a bit of a New Orleans feel thanks to the presence of guest trumpeter Brian Lynch, who added improvised riffs that took the tune to a different level.


Another highlight came with “La Iguana,” which showcased the talents of harpist Edmar Castaneda, who began the tune with an incredibly dexterous solo that drew loud applause

from the audience. The band followed that with “La Cucaracha,” the famous traditional

tune about a cockroach who can no longer walk because it doesn't have “the marijuana

to smoke.”


Downs is a gifted vocalist – not only does she have have great vocal range, she also

has incredible lungs – she is able to hold a note for a very long period of time, as she

showed in many of the songs on the set, including the uptempo “La Cumbia del Mole,” which prompted a few fans to clim