Rio Mira makes marimba magic

Afro-Latino ensemble brings the joyful sounds marimba music to Helena July 11

New & Notable

Marimba supergroup Rio Mira brings a lively summer night of Afro-Pacific music to The Myrna Loy in Helena at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11.

“They have a very joyful music from the Pacific Coast of Colombia,” says tour manager Luis Acosta with Odelia Artists.

“It’s very inspiring … It’s very transcendental. It’s soft, joyful and danceable music.”

Named for the river separating Ecuador and Colombia, Rio Mira brings together renowned Colombian marimba master Esteban Copete, acclaimed Ecuadorian singer Karla Kanora. They’re backed by a group of  Afro-Latino folkloric musicians from both countries: Carlos Loboa, cununos (traditional congas); Sergio Ramirez, male bombo; Tito Ponguillo, female bombo; and singers Carlos Hurtado and Benjamin Vanegas.

Marimba music is closely tied to the history of rebel slaves, known as maroons, who made this region their home beginning in the early 16th century. The unique marimba music of this area was granted cultural heritage status by UNESCO in 2015.

Although Rio Mira roots its music in tradition, “there is nothing quaint or old-fashioned about this intriguing and enchanting band,” wrote the Guardian.

The group’s unique marimba sound, notes the reviewer, is “matched against drums and shakers, along with impressive call-and-response vocals and harmonies. The result is a set that ranges from Latin dance songs driven on by the slinky, rhythmic marimbas, to Aguacerito, an exquisite a cappella piece with a haunting melody based around some impressively high notes.”

The band’s first recording, Marimba Del Pacifico, extolls traditional home cooking from along that “sun-blessed” region of the Pacific Coast, and celebrates the intimate connection the El Pacífico communities have with the rivers.

“The musicians that came together for this supergroup have been playing from traditional to pop music and are very acclaimed in their countries,” says Acosta. “They aim to shine light on this beautiful music from the Pacific coast and spread their culture everywhere they can.”

Tickets are $22 and are available at, at the box office at 15 N. Ewing St. or by calling 406-443-0287.