Barro Fest: Tradition - Culture – Rock

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The Azuero Peninsula, located in the Panamanian Pacific, is known as the cradle of Panama's folklore. It is a region where folk traditions maintain great roots, and one of these is the so-called Embarra Board.

A group of young entrepreneurs have developed a cultural festival called “Barro Fest”, which celebrates the power of the community that we find in the tradition of the Embarra Board and in the indie rock scene. This festival has been taking place in Pedasí, Los Santos, a small fishing town located in the southwest of the Azuero Peninsula, in the Panamanian Pacific, famous for its beaches, surfing, bohemian and relaxed atmosphere, without losing its Root in the folk traditions of the region. The third edition of this festival will take place on February 7 and 8.

What is the Embarra Board?
A community joins to build a quincha house for those who need it. Whether for a newly married couple who does not have the resources to obtain a house, or for seniors whose homes are in poor condition; In this tradition, the power of the community is present. To build the house, they use the materials of their environment (mud, wood, reeds, vines and dried grass), the workforce is completely communal.

Some carry meals, other soft drinks or liquor, others help in the construction, some carry their musical instruments to liven up, and thus a barbecue is set up where family, friends, neighbors and strangers assemble a quincha house to those who need it. In this party, mud, wood and grass are kneaded with the feet of the participants, to the sound of folk music. It is a fun experience, different and inspired by the value of the sense of community. Unfortunately, this tradition is being lost due to lack of generation.


Barro Fest has joined the formal request for the Embarra Board to be included in the list of UNESCO's Intangible Heritage Urgent Safeguard, and has helped the Ministry of Commerce and Industries in its documentation and inventory efforts of this tradition. One of the requirements for inclusion in this list of urgent safeguards is to prove that in the requesting country activities are carried out that help to promote and promote the generational relief of the tradition in question. Barro Fest is one of these activities that helps meet this requirement. At Barro Fest, attendees live a representative experience of this tradition, as a platform for the public to learn about the technique and live the spirit of connecting with Panamanian folklore.

Why indie rock?
The organizers of the Barro Fest affirm that the power of the community that is appreciated in the tradition of the Board of Embarra, they also see it in the independent music scene.

Without going into technicalities about what is and what is not indie rock, the word 'indie' comes from 'independence', and refers, in a broad sense, to creative independence, artistic autonomy, freedom to experiment and express yourself creatively The creative independence of the musician has been essential for the evolution of musical styles, the exploration of new sonic textures, the invention of new instruments, and has inspired musical, social and political movements; every musical genre was born from the creative independence of a musician.

We live in a world where big labels pay millions of dollars for the public to buy and follow their artists, occupying almost all the available mass broadcast space: radios, bars, discos, djs, etc ... but it has always remained, under the surface, a group of artists who, despite not having the support of those millions of dollars, and almost without space in the mass media, keep creative independence alive, supported by a community of people who are looking for something genuine.

Independent artists subsist for the community support they receive from the scene to which they belong. Bands tour and get free stay at home of members of other bands or followers of the scene to which they belong. They constantly receive help from people who believe in what they do and who value the authentic.


This festival is attended by locals, city dwellers, tourists and expats of all ages. The Barro Fest has been characterized by creating contrasts between folklore and the modern; For example, in the previous edition, a typical dance ensemble performed among the crowds the dance of the "handsome bull" to the rhythm of the song "The Magnificent Seven" by The Clash. The Barro Fest 2020 promises more of the same, a unique experience, full of culture, tradition and rock.

This next edition begins on Friday, February 7 in the central park of the town of Pedasí, from 3:00 pm, with a mini skate park, food and beverage stands, and bands representing the independent music scene of Panama will be presented on stage : Novadicción, Playa, Tvrbo, Random Brando, Fulmonti, AP and Los Guayas. After the concerts in the park, they will perform at The Corner Art Center, located one block away, the bands Lemmiwinks and Diaphragm.


The next day, Saturday, February 8, at Hacienda Los Gavilanes (8 minutes from downtown Pedasí), the Embarra Board party begins at 2:00 pm, where locals, tourists and expats knead the mud and the dry grass with its feet, stepping on it to the sound of live folk music, holding shoulders, enjoying the traditional Panamanian alcoholic drink: the dry one, and repelling the walls of the structure of the quincha house, learning from the farmers who keep alive This tradition.

At nightfall, the bands Pepe Bahía (Panama), White Denim (USA) and Señor Loop (Panama) will be presented in a unique scenario: in a semi-open stable, with a ball in the middle, led screen at the bottom of the stage, game of lights of first level and much volume.

This transition from the traditional to the modern, and the approach from the modern to the traditional, is the essence of the Barro Fest, which seeks with this fusion to give value to the old and the new in a context that goes beyond time.