Film/Television Editor, Copy Editor Devin D. O'Leary served as film/television editor at Weekly Alibi for 28 years. He wrote and produced four feature films here in New Mexico and has been the booker/host of Midnight Movie Madness screenings at Guild Cinema for 13 years.

In a world bedeviled by racial strife, immigration crises, war and—oh, yeah—that lingering pandemic, it’s sometimes important to remember that we all exist on the same globe and that the similarities that bind people together far outweigh the differences that, all too often, keep us at arm’s length. Tom Frouge is the founder and director of ¡Globalquerque!, an annual celebration of global music and culture that started right here 18 years ago. After the now-standard COVID pause, ¡Globalquerque! is back to full strength, exposing Albuquerque audiences to performers from all over the world at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Sept. 22 through 24, in a three-day celebration of sight and sound. Call it a get-down for the good of the planet.

Nearly two decades ago, Tom Frouge was just another burned-out record exec in Los Angeles. He worked for a number of independent world music labels before becoming a partner at Triloka Records. The label was eventually sold off to industry legend Danny Goldberg. Frouge got out just as the Napster/internet download revolution was happening, but stuck around as a consultant—with the stipulation that he could move out of LA to the far more quiet environs of New Mexico. While attending an Association of Performing Arts conference in New York, Frouge started contemplating the idea of founding a world music festival back in New Mexico. With the help of the National Hispanic Cultural Center and an enthusiastic stamp of approval from then-mayor Martin Chavez, ¡Globalquerque! was born in 2005.

According to himself, Frouge is “way grayer and crazier” now but still just as dedicated to the idea that exposing yourself to another culture somewhere else on the planet makes it “way harder to bomb them.” During COVID, most of his colleagues at festivals or venues tried to replicate what they do online. But as Frouge puts it, watching live concerts on Zoom became “tearfully boring after about 48 hours.” Frouge, who also has a background in cable broadcasting, decided his world music festival should be making television and not “live performances with a tip jar.” In 2020, with performing venues in lockdown, Frouge launched “¡Globalquerque! Cross-Cultural Crossover,” a musical documentary series in which past ¡Globalquerque! performers re-imagined each other’s songs from other cultures. The series consisted of music videos, behind-the-scenes interviews and more. That has now evolved into the new “¡Globalquerque! Sojourns,” a “cultural human interest” series built around world music performers, which can be sneak previewed at globalquerque.org/globalquerque-sojourns.

In 2021 ¡Globalquerque! tried out a truncated event. Just 10 bands and two stages, free COVID testing at the gate. Instead of flying in performers from other countries (most of which had travel restrictions at the time), the 2021 fest billed itself as a “celebration of immigrant communities in America.” Frouge admits it was “a little nerve-wracking, but we pulled it off.”

Now, with COVID easing (somewhat) and countries removing travel bans (mostly), 2022’s ¡Globalquerque! is shaping up to be an amazing international event. “Every year has its difficulties and fires that need to be put out. Honestly, this year has not been too different,” says Frouge. “One of the biggest challenges not only we, but colleagues around the country, face has been visas. It is a clumsy, cumbersome process, particularly for artists from second and third world countries. And often expensive. Decisions are a somewhat arbitrary, too. In the case of ¡Globalquerque! we are bringing culturally significant international artists who are touring the world. There needs to be a more streamlined process.”

This year’s ¡Globalquerque! will see performers coming in from Ukraine, Malawi, Colombia, Sweden, Israel, México, Estonia, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Mali, Panama (via Kansas City), Brooklyn and even Taos and Jemez Pueblos right here in New Mexico.

DakhaBrakha from Estonia

Despite the difficulty of transporting artists from around the world and jumping through countless bureaucratic hoops, Frouge says, “All the visiting artists are screamingly happy to be back on the road and performing live. It is what they do, after all. For a few, they are on their debut U.S. tour. For most, they are returning to the road after a couple of years plus of postponements!” ¡Globalquerque! is doing its best to make the performers (and their audiences) feel safe this year. All artists, vendors and staff at the fest will be vaxed or tested.

Asked to pick out his own personal highlights for 2022, Frouge admits it’s “hard to say since I curated all 18 acts, so they kind of all are! Of course renowned Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha’s return to the festival (we were the second North American venue they ever played back in 2013) is something we are thrilled about! I started speaking to them about returning prior to the invasion of their country, as we were planning a return to full bloom for the festival and decided to invite some friends back that have gone on to greater heights since first being a ‘discovery act’ at ¡Globalquerque!” Considering the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the band’s return “takes on a somewhat different light for obvious reasons, so our arms are not only open in welcome but in love and solidarity.”

Frouge’s other must-not-miss concerts for 2022 include “our old pal” Robert Mirabal (from Taos Pueblo), “Estonian post-zombie-folk-talharpa rebels” Puuluup, México City’s “marimba/cumbia/garage outfit” Son Rompe Pera and “Ethiopian funk machine” Gili Yalo. Friday night’s closing artist is Vox Sambou, who Frouge says “combines Haitian vodou rhythms with reggae-tinged hip-hop.”

Saturday night’s closers are the Bazurto All Stars, a band that “have virtually single-handedly exported a Colombian music form called champeta. It will get your feet moving,” promises the festival’s excited director.

Hatian Vodou/Reggae-Tinged Hip-Hop Artist Vox Sambou

This year ¡Globalquerque! is launching with a free opening night headphone dance party and concert on Thursday, Sept. 22. On the schedule are local DJs spinning global grooves, light installations and a free performance from Son Rompe Pera. That’s followed by the free Global Fiesta on Saturday, Sept. 24 (10am to 3:30pm), which will offer workshops with visiting artists on a range of topics, international dance lessons, film, international food demos, hands-on inter-activities for all ages, a special community spotlight focus on Northern New Mexico culture and more.

For a complete listing of events and times, go to globalquerque.org. Two day passes to ¡Globalquerque! are $60 (adults) in advance or $70 day of. One-day passes (adult) are $40 in advance and $50 day of. For more info go to globalquerque.org/tickets.