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    Alex Acuña: My Peruvian Beats

    Alex Acuña playing the cajón at the 2015 Folklife Festival. Photo by Josh Weilepp, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
    Alex Acuña on the cajón at the 2015 Folklife Festival. Photo by Josh Weilepp, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

    sound►culture is a Folklife Festival podcast series featuring stories, songs, and fieldwork gathered on the National Mall and around the world.

    You may not know his name, but you have probably heard his music. Since the 1960s, percussionist Alex Acuña has performed and recorded with Paul McCartney, U2, Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald, Beck, Diana Ross, Elvis Presley, the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra, and the list goes on.

    “It would be easier to tell you who I haven’t played with,” he says.

    So how did this musician from the small town of Pativilca, Peru, become one of the most sought-after percussionists in American popular music? After his evening concert performance at the 2015 Folklife Festival’s Perú: Pachamama program, he explained.

    Audio
    Alex Acuña: My Peruvian Beats

    Song clips:
    1) “Latineando” – Alex Acuña, Jan Gunnar Hoff & Per Mathisen – Barxeta (Losen, 2012)
    2) “Estancia” – Chick Corea – Touchstone (Warner Bros., 1982)
    3) “The Juggler” – Weather Report – Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977)
    4) “Zapato Prestao” – Alex Acuña, Jan Gunnar Hoff & Per Mathisen – Barxeta (Losen, 2012)

    Elisa Hough is the editor for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.


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