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The Funky Latina Music Festival

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

By Alexis Watkins

Saturday, March 25, Elyssa Bustamante also known as The Funky Latina, held The Funky Latina Music Festival at Crescent Ballroom in Downtown Phoenix. The festival brought Musical acts from Phoenix, Dallas, and California together to take the stage.

The lineup was composed of many different musicians and bands from different genres. Among the performers were Lissett Denis, The Brown Boyz, Danny Bonilla of Luna Luna, Las Calakas, Elyzer, and ended with a set from DJ Awdre. 

The festival started with open remarks from Bustamante, who wore a beautiful pink, white, and orange dress that she designed herself. She welcomed everyone in for a night of food, drinks, and music. The event was held to highlight some of the Latinx musicians who are shaping the music industry, and creating a lane all their own. 

Lissett Denis, an Afro-Latinx singer/songwriter from Phoenix started off the festival. Denis blends Indie, R&B, Pop, and Neo-Soul to create a unique sound all her own. She performed songs off of her EP, 5706, and even had the crowd help her sing the lyrics for her song “Yellow Butterflies”.

Danny Bonilla took the stage next and brought the crowd together to laugh and dance. Bonilla is a vocalist in the alternative band Luna Luna, who performed songs of his own. Inspired by artists like Stevie Wonder and Prince, Bonilla made sure to incorporate beautiful guitar solos and funky baselines into his songs. After each song, he cheekily made sure to remind everyone to sip on some complimentary Topo Chico sparkling water.

Topo Chico wasn’t the only thing that was served at the venue. Crescent Ballroom had a selection of mixed drinks, cocktails, and food available for purchase. I purchased the nachos, and elote, which were delicious. 

Between each performance, there was a small intermission, in which attendees could mingle, buy food or drinks, and merchandise like T-shirts, tote bags, and records from the artists.

My favorite performance of the night was Las Calakas, a Cumbia fusion band from Phoenix. The band used bongos, an electric guitar, bass, drums, and lively lyrics to make the crowd dance. During their performance, a dance circle formed in the middle of the crowd, and participants stepped in and showed off their best moves.

Winding down the festival was The Brown Boyz, an R&B band from Southern California. The band performed a cover of Lucky Day’s “Paris” and the Isley Brothers’ classic “Footprints in the Dark”. From their own discography, they performed their newest single, “Dollar Tree”, which incorporates the perfect blend of R&B and soul – and a personal favorite of the night for me.

Elyzer, one of the vocalists and pianist of the group, performed a few of his own singles while on stage. His cathartic lyrics mixed with his soulful and raspy voice helped to create a heartfelt performance from the band.

After Bustamante said her closing remarks and thanked everyone for coming out, she invited everyone to the patio area of the venue to dance and enjoy a set from DJ Awdre.

Bustamante had a goal of bringing people together to listen to, and celebrate up-and-coming Latinx artists – and she did just that. The night was filled with good music, laughter, fulfilling food, and a sense of community that was unmatched. Keep an eye out for more exciting events and information from The Funky Latina on Instagram @thefunkylatina. 

Photos courtesy of David Ulloa

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