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L.A. Times Travel Show: The musical connection of travel and culture

I had the good fortune of moderating a fascinating panel called, "On the Road: Traveling for Music and Festivals" at the L.A. Time Travel Show on Saturday. My panelists (who will be joining me again at noon Sunday) were Betto Arcos, host of KPFK's "Global Village"; music video director Nigel Dick; and Rick Farman, founder of Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.

Each guest brought their own insight into the ways that travelers can connect with the culture of a place through its music.

Arcos was passionate about the music of Latin America, particularly the Samba in Brazil. "The life of the city and its music are intimately connected," he said.

He also spoke about his favorite world music festival, which takes place in Fez, Morocco, each June. It's called the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music. Arcos said that attending the festival allows rare glimpses into the Muslim culture of that ancient city.

Farman has attended and produced music festivals around the world but was sure to mention that some of the best music festivals are in our own backyard. The Monterrey Jazz Festival, for example, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He was also excited about Burning Man in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, which has a reputation for partying, but he says it's actually a very complex experience.

And some words to the wise for travelers: When visiting these festivals, know that you won't be able to see every act you'd like, so prioritize your schedule. And be sure to make plans to leave the festival grounds and explore the host city. Satellite shows often crop up in unexpected bars and clubs and can yield rich results.

Dick talked about traveling with members of Michael Jackson's band, north of the Arctic Circle, and coming upon a young teenage boy playing piano late one sunny night. He played a Michael Jackson tune. Little did he know, he was playing for the writers of the song.

That's just one of many examples of synchronicity when it comes to traveling for music.

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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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