Music & Nightlife

Latin Grammy winner Pepe Montes to kick off Noches Tropicales at Tropical Park

Latin Grammy-winning pianist and composer Pepe Montes.
Latin Grammy-winning pianist and composer Pepe Montes. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

For a decade, the Noches Tropicales concert series at Tropical Park has been synonymous with fun, energetic and family-friendly Latin music featuring award-winning performers whose infectious sounds never fail to fill the dance floor. This year’s three-part concert series, presented free by the Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department (in partnership with Target), promises to continue that longstanding tradition.

At 8 p.m. Friday, Latin Grammy-winning keyboardist, composer, singer and songwriter Pepe Montes and band will take the stage at Tropical Park to perform their energetic and romantic evolution of traditional Cuban sounds blended with timba and contemporary pop. The Miami resident, who made his solo debut with “2012 The Beginning,” won a 2013 Latin Grammy for Best Salsa Album for “Salsa Giants,” a live all-star recording at the Curaçao North Jazz Festival. His collaborators include Marc Anthony, Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini, Celia Cruz All Stars, Sergio George, Chino y Nacho and many others.

Montes is a musician who enjoys keeping busy, as evidenced by two forthcoming records. The first, “Si Miami,” features music composed and performed with a Cuban trio he regularly plays gigs with at Ball & Chain in Calle Ocho. The second, “Malibu,” was recorded with his full band, Pepe Montes and His Conjuto, which will perform Friday.

Concertgoers can expect to hear singles from their 2015 release, “Ajiaco,” including “Novelesque” and “Cortadito,” as well as songs from their forthcoming album. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnic snacks. Miami-Dade Parks provides the stage, a dance floor and limited seating, including benches.

“I am very excited to play Noches Tropicales,” Montes said. “It is a tremendous opportunity for my band and I to play for a big audience in a free concert in one of Miami’s beautiful parks. I expect it to be a great night of family fun full of dancing and enjoying traditional Cuban music with a modern twist.”

Since its inauguration in 2005 by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Javier D. Souto, Noches Tropicales has held almost 40 evening events at Tropical Park and entertained more than 45 thousand attendees. Genres from traditional Cuban contemporary music and zarzuelas to Argentinean tango and Brazilian jazz have been showcased. A Spanish language production of “Romeo and Juliet” was held in 2006.

“Noches Tropicales is a fun and informal evening of entertainment for the entire family,” said Vivian Greer Digon, Women’s Park manager and Noches Tropicales project manager. “Our goal is to highlight the rich cultural heritage found in Hispanic music and dance and, most importantly, to make the arts accessible to the whole community.”

Two more Noches Tropicales events are scheduled this season in 2017. The next event, on Feb. 10, will feature Latin Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Leslie Cartaya. Grammy-winning trumpeter Dante Vargas and The Cat Band are set to take the Tropical Park stage on March 31.

Beyond those shows, however, the future of these events is uncertain. Funds have dried up. Unless new sponsors come in, the March 31 show will be the last time an event under the Noches Tropicales banner will be held.

“We are trying to find sponsors to continue these great events,” she said. “Noches Tropicales really brings the community together, but without the proper funds we will be unable to. We offer sponsorship opportunities to businesses. If they want to come on board, it’s great for the community and great for them if they want to reach the Hispanic market in a positive, family-oriented way.”

For more information

visit www.miamidade.gov/parks/concert-series.asp or call Vivian Greer Digon at 305-480-1717.

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