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Heating up: Old Town Salsa Fiesta features hot sounds, spicy flavors

Hot sounds and hot sauces are what attendees can enjoy at this year’s Salsa Fiesta in Old Town.

The event on Saturday, Sept. 9, will feature a number of local competitors battling to see who has the best salsa. There will be a limited number of taste passes available for free so that eventgoers can sample each homemade salsa entry and vote for their favorite from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Taste passes will be given on a first-come basis.

Several bands will spice things up on the Old Town gazebo throughout the event. Performers are Trio Los Amigos, Ballet Folklorico Fiesta Mexicana, Picoso and Mariachi Tenampa. Ryan Montaño & the Salsa All Stars will headline the event.

“The city of Albuquerque reached out to me,” Montaño said. “They asked if I could put a salsa band together for the Salsa Fiesta. I’ve played in a few salsa bands, but I’ve never led my own salsa band. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. … I talked to some of the most well-known and competent salsa players in the region. … I found some of the best that I could find. … We’re just excited to go out and put on an authentic sounding salsa show that is entertaining and build it and see where it goes in the future.”

The group is made up of vocalists D’anna Tesso and Lester Rodriguez, drummer Paul Palmer III, pianist Steve Figueroa, bassist Colin Deuble, percussionist Ricky Carrido and trumpeters Paul Gonzales, Ziggy Garcia and Montaño.

“Our sound is influenced by Latin rhythms, salsa, cumbia, merengue, guaguancó, Latin funk, you name it,” Montaño said. “We present these styles, in their authenticity, with a high-energy, danceable vibe.”

Montaño was inspired to be part of the Salsa Fiesta’s music lineup after attending the festival a few years ago.

“I believe it was in 2012, and I saw this band that year called La Excelencia,” he said. “I was off to the side and just watching them, and I was really inspired by how dynamic they were as a salsa band. I just kind of remember thinking, like ‘Man, this is something I can do; this is something I want to do.’ And then five years later, here we are. The opportunity has come, and I’m excited to be the act on stage that I wanted to be five years ago.”