The Music of Buenos Aires

The bands of Buenos Aires don’t seem to play in typical venues or in typical numbers. A band in the US may consist of 4-6 members, 6 being on the larger size. But here in BA I have found the bands to be well into the double digits and playing in places I would not suspect.

Thursday night, I was directed by locals to the Uniclub in Abasto. I did not think much of the three tiered club that seem to play the typical electronica, but then to my surprise a performance was announced by a percussionist tapping a beat along the metal railings urging the crowd on to the third floor. Upstairs the club transformed into a hippie drum circle familiar to Venice beach. But more than a drum circle this multi-piece band had beyond drums, sax players, singers and a conductor. The crowd danced around the tunes that projected from the middle of the room. When I asked a local who the band was he told me their name was La Bomba del Tiempo, and that in fact this was not the band, but students affiliated with the band. To get the full effect he assured me I had to come out on Monday nights, when the entire company included a full string section.

On Sunday I decided to walk along Denfensa street in the barrio of San Telmo, which is famous for a large artisan street fair, not unlike Portobello Row in London, England. Though the trinkets, weaving and metal work were well-priced and to be admired what really caught my attention were the street performers. Used to seeing a few guitarists or drummers jamming for crowds while a hat is passed, in San Telmo, street musicians play in groups of at least 10, taking up whole sidewalks. One band I was especially impressed with was Ciudad Baigon. This 11 piece group had four accordion players, four violinists, two cello/bassists, and one pianist (I was curious to know how they transported a stand up piano to a cobble stoned side walk). The music was all instrumental and can only be describe and a Latin flavor with European influences, like so many things in this city. The crowd grew as they played and young people began to sit in the middle of the street, children danced together, and photographers grabbed for their cameras. The wind began to pick up and bubbles from a man selling toys flew across the sunlit street as everyone happily grooved to the funky tunes. 

For information on La Bomba del Tiemp go to