The first of six free Central Park Sessions kicks off tonight with the Novalima Select Session that will feature an evening of great Latin music at Madison’s beautiful Central Park – now called Milt McPike Park. More importantly, money will be raised throughout the night for Centro Hispano of Dane County.

The key attraction will be headliner Novalima, a Latin Grammy-nominated band created in 2001 by four friends from Lima, Peru who a shared passion for traditional Afro-Peruvian music and global DJ culture. At tonight’s Novalima Select Session, Novalima will be playing two one-hour sets.

“It’s going to be a great night. We have one of the great Latin bands of the world – Novalima from Lima, Peru,” Central Park Sessions founder and coordinator Bob Queen tells Madison365. “They play a little bit of traditional rhumbas mixed with electronica. It is great music to dance to.”

Novalima’s influences include Afro-Peruvian, Criolla, reggae, dub, jazz, Afrobeat, Afro-Latin, Champeta Colombiana, son, cumbia, samba, bossa, batucada, underground house, broken beats, and Brazilian drum & bass. They are currently on a world tour and fresh off a performance in Berlin, Germany. After playing the Central Park Session in Madison tonight, the band will be headed to the West Coast.

“Their music is truly international. It’s hip; it’s modern. It’s got Jamaican beats. It has all sorts of African beats,” Queen says. “They are part of the Diaspora. Afro-Peruvian would be the description. Just great dance music. We want people to dance and have a great time.”

Novilima has a new album called Ch’usay (Voyage in Quechua, the native language of the Inkas) which will be released in September on Wonderwheel Recordings. The release of the new album will also coincide with Novalima`s 15th Anniversary which included a special color vinyl release of all their previous albums on July 1st and the current European and US Tour, kick-started by the release of two new singles from Ch’usay.

Above all, the Novalima Select Session is a night to benefit Centro Hispano of Dane County.

“Centro will be providing volunteers and selling raffle tickets. It’s part of our profit-sharing model,” Queen says. “ [Centro Executive Director] Karen [Menendez Coller] has been doing such a good job at this event and they have such great volunteers.

“Centro was our best seller last year and they also have great raffle prizes,” Queen adds. “It feels good when our local agencies do well and raise money at this event.

Menendez Coller tells Madison365 that she hopes the community comes out tonight to support Centro at the Novalima Select Session.

“Bob Queen never lets Madison down. The music at McPike Park tonight is bound to be great. But more than anything I hope people come out and take the opportunity to engage with Centro,” she says. “This is a critical time in our history as a country and if we are going to defend the future of the Latino community in Dane County, Centro needs everyone’s support.”

Queen says that it’s important that the whole community uses McPike Park.

“We want people to use this park. It’s such a great park,” Queen continues. “We want the whole city to feel comfortable at this park and not just [make this] another Marquette neighborhood event. We have plenty of those. Central Park, now McPike Park, is fitting, because it’s central to many of our neighborhoods throughout the city. We want everybody to come and everybody to feel comfortable there.”

Golpe Tierra

Also performing at the Novalima Select Session will be Madison favorite Golpe Tierra made up of musicians Nick Moran, Juan Tomas Martinez, Tony Barba, and Richard Hildner. They are described as a “guerrilla-style ensemble employing the traditional Afro-Peruvian guitar-bass-cajón set-up.”

“Golpe Tierra is a fantastic band, too, from Madison,” Queen says. “And the Madison Choro Ensemble – great dance music from northeastern Brazil – will be performing. They will be playing in the tent. They were such a hit last year that I couldn’t wait to get them back. “

The Central Park Sessions not only benefit local organizations like Centro Hispano but also The Tenant Resource Center, Omega School, The Urban League of Greater Madison, WORT-FM, and host agency Common Wealth Development Corporation.

“The Sessions are kind of an after-work phenomenon. It’s from 5-10 p.m,” Queen says. “It’s a nice short window of opportunity – it’s not hard on the park and it’s not hard on the neighborhood. They are always very fun and interesting events

On Thursday night, The Central Park Sessions will continue with the Kiki‘s Righteous Session. Musicians will include Faux Fawn, Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls, and The Baseball Project, which will bring together legendary performers from bands like The Mekons and REM and Dream Syndicate and ZuZu’s Petals.

“There will be three Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame guys from R.E.M. The Baseball Project. That will be really cool,” Queen says.

Milt McPike Park, or Central Park, 215 S Brearly St., is located on Madison’s near east side in the Marquette Neighborhood a block below Williamson Street.

“It’s a chance to have a great dinner and a drink. It’s a family-friendly event; so bring the kids. It’s a fun time,” Queen says. “People give me calls and send me messages all the time asking how much it costs. It’s free! People are amazed that we put this on for free and we raise money for non-profits and give them an opportunity to get up on stage and promote their programs and set up displays at the park.

“It’s nice to work with effective organizations who are doing great work in our community,” he adds.