Deer Valley Music Festival will get funky with Latin grooves of Ozomatli |

Deer Valley Music Festival will get funky with Latin grooves of Ozomatli

Scott Iwasaki

Over the past two decades, Ozomatli has enchanted audiences with its blend of Latin, hip-hop, funk, fusion and rock.

In addition, the band, which formed in Los Angeles, has championed immigration reform and workers rights and has been a cultural ambassador for the United States to India and Nepal.

A few years ago, the band started playing with symphonies, which guitarist Raúl Pacheco said is all part of the Ozomatli experience

"After being together for 20 years, any new and different experiences are important, not only to ourselves as musicians to keep us growing, but also for our audiences," Pacheco said during a phone call to The Park Record from downtown Los Angeles. "They want to see us in different settings and this is a way to get new people to see the band. It’s a way for all of us artists to create longevity, and I also know that symphonies in general are trying to expand and create new audiences as well."

Ozomatli will perform with the Utah Symphony during the Deer Valley Music Festival at the Snow Park Amphitheater on Saturday, Aug. 1.

Pacheco is looking forward to that show.

"I think many people who go to a symphony have never seen us, so this might be interesting to them," he said. "They may like to hear us for the first time during one of these shows."

On the surface, the idea of Ozomatli, a band known for its loose and grooving jams, playing with a structured symphony may seem difficult. But for Pacheco, it’s pretty easy to do.

"Symphony members are such high-level musicians that have great discipline and dedication and we are impressed and honored to be surrounded by that musicality," he said. "When we play with them, it’s about the drummer and the conductor being on the same page. It’s about starting together."

The plan is for the band to arrive Saturday morning and do one rehearsal with the Utah Symphony before the show later that evening.

"That will be it, and we’ll go for it," Pacheco said. "It’s kind of exciting and we all like it."

Also, the performance payoff isn’t just for the audience

"There’s something about being backed by a symphony that’s very powerful and uplifting and quite amazing," Pacheco said. "It’s incredible to hear your own songs on this grand level. It feels like we’re floating and it’s very inspirational for us."

Playing with symphonies is just one of the changes Ozomatli has made. The other is to cut back on touring.

"We don’t do it as much as we used to," Pacheco said. "After doing it so long and hard for 16 or 17 years, someone suggested we slow down and the rest of us agreed."

While the touring has decreased, the band’s creativity hasn’t.

"Over the past three years, we have managed to rearrange our business and touring schedule so we have more time at home, but still survive as musicians," Pacheco explained. "This has helped the band stay together. We’ve all been so dedicated and worked so hard that we needed a little breathing space. We still have time to make new content and do things that are fresh. And we still perform at places we’ve never been."

It also gives Ozomatli time to focus on other opportunities.

In 2009, the band was named as a Cultural Ambassador for the United States for India and Nepal.

"This is one of those different experiences that enhance our story," Pacheco said. "Choosing the ambassadorship was something that was unique and different. While we

are always involved in projects that satisfy us musically, this was something new.

"I don’t think this was part of our plan when we first got together, but it fits, because when we showed up on that first day all of those years ago, we brought in an openness and readiness to communicate with other human beings."

While the band does explore other opportunities to promote unity, music will remain its No. 1 priority.

"There’s a joy in that we can do this, and when we have the opportunity to do that in front of an audience, they can feel the sincerity," Pacheco said. "We love learning and sharing and we’re very lucky, because music is powerful and it helps people connect. It builds bridges and reminds us of the basic yearnings that we all have. We are honored to be part of the world-music community.

"We’ve been to Utah many times, but we haven’t been there for awhile," he said. "So, we’re looking forward to this new setting and, we will hopefully say hello to old fans and make new ones."

The Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival will present Ozomatli at the Snow Park Amphitheater on Saturday, Aug. 1, at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be conducted by Utah Symphony’s Principal Pops Conductor Jerry Steichen. Tickets range from $10 to $88 and can be purchased by visiting .