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ISSUE 115 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/19/2002

‘Chaos’ embraced in Spring Concert Grammy award winning Afro-Latin group to headline Arbstock

By Stefanie Graen
Staff Writer

Friday, April 19, 2002

iOzomatli, who won a Grammy this year for Best Latin/Rock Alternative Album, will headline St. Olaf and Carleton’s annual Spring Concert, scheduled for May 4.

Ozomatli, whose name is Nahuati for the Aztec god of dance, is an Afro-Latin group with a Black, Chicano, Cuban, Japanese, Jewish, and Filipino crew.

Many different phrases describe its sound: cumbia, dub, hip-hop, Caribbean pachanga, shuffling salsa swing, jungle rhyme and samba with an urban thump. Ozomatli’s current album is titled "Embracing the Chaos." The band’s website,, describes the album as "chapter two in [the] plot to let the world know that the future of urban America is already here, already singing, and already dancing salsa to a hip-hop samba."

Alex Oftelie ‘03, St. Olaf’s concert chair, says that the concert committee is "excited about bringing another Grammy-caliber artist to the students of St. Olaf and Carleton."

Last year, two-time Grammy winner David Sanchez played at St. Olaf, but this is the first time a Grammy winner will perform at Spring Concert.

Ozomatli’s fame took off in July 2000, when the group played at a protest at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles during a speech by Bill Clinton.

On Ozomatli’s website, bassist Wil-Dog comments, "When we played the DNC it was our darkest time as a band and the show was a wake up call for a commitment to still be there, to still be the people's band … We were like, 'this is really important that we are a group and that we stay together for more than just making a living.' That's what the whole record is about."

"A lot of embracing the chaos has to do with all of us who have stayed in the band, how we maintain being in the band, how we have to embrace how chaotic we are, how decisions are made, what it's like to be married to a group."

The band is proud and serious about its commitment to social change and community building. It is involved in many social projects, including a Taco Bell boycott, freeing death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, the United Farm Workers project, the attempt to change the women’s prison system in the United Kingdom, Indymedia, and the protest of School of the Americas in Latin America.

The last three years of Ozomatli’s career have been spent on the road, playing with such artists as Santana, Los Lobos, Johnny Pacheco, and Yomo Toro. Its venues include stadiums, political benefits, public high schools and countries such as Japan, Europe, Cuba, Australia, and Mexico.

After the Spring Concert, they will travel to Ireland, London, and Spain.

Ari Guha, Carleton’s concert chair, selected Ozomatli.

Black Eyed Peas was also a possibility, but Ozomatli was the committee’s first choice, according to Oftelie.

Four other bands will be playing as well. As of now, there are two that are 95 percent certain, and two campus bands from the colleges.

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