Pico Culture #01 - Introducing "El Pico"

A very interesting cultural aspect on the colombian caribbean coast, particularly in Cartagena and Baranquilla  is the Pico Culture. A Pico is a soundsystem that usually plays vinyls (very loud!) during weekends. It developed on the coast from the 60s and evolved up to now with different influences during each decade. The caribbean coast has always been for Colombia the "front door" for other countries, so Baranquilla as principal harbor, received influences (and records) from all around the caribbean and also from Africa. As result, big proportion of the music played is african vinyls from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zaire, Angola (some DJs play 100% african music). But the selection can also be very diverse (cumbia, gaita, guaguanco, pachanga, tumbele, calypso, reggae... ), demonstrating importance of this crossroad within black atlantic interconnections. In parallel, it also developed a local style played on the soundsystems, initially called "Terapia" then "Champeta". Althoug corresponding more to a "80s sound" (including effects and new technical possibilities), it reveals amazing soukous influences which contributed to a kind of renewing of the african consciousness in popular areas of Cartagena and Baranquilla.

I do not pretend to describe here it all, as its richness makes it an infinite task, but I'll just try to enlighten some aspects discovered during researches in Baranquilla. 

Lets begin with a Pico from the 70s, La Salsa de Puerto Rico, from barrio El Bosque.

This is an original pico created in 1977, three brothers from the family are into pico, and the soundsystem still operates on weekends in the family "cantina". Musical selection, depending on the people in the place (some customers ask for specific tracks, and pay attention that it is played in vinyl), goes from guaguanco and salsa to cumbia and porro. But the main interest goes to african old records such as Kabaka, Oliver De Coque, and the following kenyan song, which is a real hit in Baranquilla. As many african hits, it has been renamed in spanish so is known as "La Mecedora" (meaning the rocking chair).

Orchestra Viva Makale - Safari (La Mecedora):

Old style tube amplifier is still operating, sending big fat sound to the speakers wall.