Since its origin 10 years ago, Cortadito has become a torchbearer of a pop culture phenomenon that is two centuries strong.

One of South Florida’s longest-running music festivals — Afro Roots Fest — will wrap its 25th anniversary season with a weekend of free concerts in Islamorada at the Florida Keys Brewing Company. 

The weekend kicks off on Friday, May 19 at 6 p.m. in the beer garden with a performance by Electric Kif, and continues with Cortadito and Miamibloco on Saturday, May 20 at 6 p.m. Finally, the Nag Champayons and special guest Johnny Dread, plus Grupo Barrio Abajo, close things out on Sunday, May 21, at 2 p.m. All performances are free and open to the public of all ages.

“We couldn’t think of a better way or place to end the season than with this amazingly diverse presentation of cultures at one of the finest breweries in all of Florida,” said Jose Elias, Afro Roots Fest founder and Nag Champayons guitarist and bandleader. “I’m proud to continue to fulfill the mission of our nonprofit to bring African-influenced culture to underserved locations and invite everyone to come enjoy a full weekend’s worth of incredibly talented musical presentations.” 

Elias is also the executive director of the Miami nonprofit Community Arts and Culture (CAC), the organization behind Afro Roots Fest, as well as the bandleader and tres player in Cortadito.  

Electric Kif is a Miami-based power quartet that explores the boundaries between rock, jazz fusion and electronic drum and bass. Made up of bassist Rodrigo Zambrano, keyboardist Jason Matthews, drummer Armando Lopez and guitarist Eric Escanes, the band has garnered attention for their eclectic take on groove and their own brand of “post-nuclear music.” Their most recent album Dreamlike is Electric Kif’s fourth full-length LP and features international heavy hitters Aaron Parks and Chris Bullock of Snarky Puppy. 

Since its origin 10 years ago, Cortadito has become a torchbearer of a pop culture phenomenon that is two centuries strong. A traditional folk and acoustic band that focuses on performing one of the earliest styles of Cuban country music known as Son (pronounced sOwn), their sound can best be described as reminiscent of the famed Buena Vista Social Club. This ensemble led by Elias, co-founder and guitarist, and Julio Cesar Rodriguez Delet, vocalist, leads audiences through the “Guajiro Triangle,” an audio experience spanning the three cities of Miami, Havana and Santiago.

Co-led by Brian Potts and suOm Francis, Miamibloco is a Samba percussion community nonprofit that turns Afro-Brazilian music and rhythms into the cultural glue that binds Miami’s unique diverse communities together. The group hosts the seasonal Saideira Social at the Miami Beach Bandshell, where the Miamibloco performance group Bateria Saideira collaborates on stage with high caliber local, Brazilian and international musicians including Samir Langus, Munir Hossn, Gilmar Gomes, Musiana, Magela Herrera, Oigo and Mauricio Baia.

The Nag Champayons are Frank Zappa and Serge Gainsbourg wrestling Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. The group began in the early 2000s as an improvisational collective whose name came from the burning of Nag Champa incense during early jams. The group is currently in the studio recording the follow up to the 2015 release Rising Sounds of a Sinking City and 2016 single “Brazilian LSD.” Johnny Dread transcends reggae music into a unique blend of world beat rhythms. His musical influences are as diverse as his Rasta, Cuban-American background.Group Barrio Abajo seeks to raise international awareness of the folkloric musical heritage of the Caribbean Colombia by presenting styles such as cumbia, bullerengue, porro, chandé, and more than 30 other unparalleled musical rhythms. Barrio Abajo has performed at various editions of Afro Roots Fest, and is a regular favorite at CAC events.

Originating in 1999 at the now-defunct Tobacco Road bar in Miami, Afro Roots Fest has been named one of the “10 Best Music Festivals in Miami” by the Miami New Times and crowned the “Best Music Festival” in the 2019 “Best of Miami” issue. Past performers include Amadou & Mariam, Sun Ra Arkestra, Alsarah, Fatoumata Diawara and Fulu Miziki.

This year’s edition of the festival is supported by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District and Keys ICE.