Long before electro-cumbia became the latest club style to break out in the States, Richard Blair was exploring electronic-Latin fusions en route to his new home in Colombia. Along with fellow Brit Will Quantic Holland, he pioneered club-friendly concoctions that meshed dub, Afrobeat, dancehall reggae, salsa, and South American folk styles. Blairs Sidestepper project started solo, but now features a rotating cast of Colombian musicians and vocalists. Hes taken things a foot further on tour, assembling a seven-piece full live band that touches down in S.F. tonight. On Palm Pictures albums such as 2003s 3 a.m. (In Beats We Trust) and 2008s remix collection, The Buena Vibra Sound System, electronic beats and bass intertwine smoothly with sultry vocalists like Erika Muñoz. Blairs productions also feature gentle guitar strumming and hand drum accents its not twirling, feverish electro-salsa, but hip-swaying dubby beats with a South American twist. Like Thievery Corporation, Novalima, or Nickodemus global gumbo, Blairs music achieves a fair balance between traditional and future sounds. A new Sidestepper album drops this year, so expect exclusive previews along with the bubbly rhythms.
Diego's Umbrella and DJ Stepwise open.
Fri., Feb. 19, 9 p.m., 2010