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Colombian accordionist, big band leader and composer, Gregorio Uribe (recently listed by Billboard as one of the “artists key to the evolution of vallenato [a Colombian music genre]”) has launched an innovative new project that combines music and travel. The charismatic artist has developed unique tours where travelers from around the globe get to explore a deeper Colombia thanks to the bonding power of music.
Gregorio leads groups of 10-15 travelers though charming towns visiting some of the most knowledgable traditional musicians in the country – many whom are farmers and senior citizens. In these gatherings the group will not only learn about the different rhythms and artisanal instruments but also about the history of the area, the surrounding environment and the local cuisine. Learning how to build traditional gaita flutes, enjoying a home-made sancoocho (plantain based soup), walking through the wilderness whilst and dancing to the beat of native drums are just some of the different activities that occur as a result of following the music.
It’s not coincidence that Colombia has been named as the “Land of a Thousand Rhythms” and “Land of Sabrosura” (land of “tastiness” or “swing”); every region in the country will have its own particular music and dance and the locals are not shy to share their skills. Vallenato, bullerengue, porro and cumbia are only some of the many music styles explored in these tours, and Gregorio makes a point to explain to his fellow travelers how these rhythms have influenced his music and got him to collaborate with GRAMMY winners Rubén Blades and Carlos Vives.
Gregorio’s vision is that music is the key to a culture and emphasizes that these tours are NOT only for musicians. His previous tour included a lawyer, a physician, a bill collector and a GRAMMY winning producer, hence demonstrating that Colombian music and its celebratory spirit is one where all can participate in.
Finally, Gregorio’s tours are focused on working with local communities. Non-for-profit organizations such as Sonidos Enraizados (grass roots music label) and Luthiers Colombianos (instrument builders) are key to curating these experiences where travelers get to get a sense of the daily life of local artists and their families.
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