Relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic are better than they once were: In the 1840s, the former French colony tried to annex the former Spanish colony, and in the 1930s, the Dominican President ordered the killing of Haitians in the D.R. More recently, Haitians have served as cheap labor in their neighboring country. But the 2010 Haiti earthquake built a bridge between the two occupants of Hispaniola: The Dominican government opened its borders to Haitians, lending hospital beds and aid to victims in need. Tonight, in what has been billed as a “friendship concert,” the Dominican Republic’s Enriquillo Tejada y Los Clarinetes Mágicos will open for Haitian legends Tabou Combo. Tejada’s group will offer speedy, woodwind-led merengues alongside swaying, jazz-inflected boleros; meanwhile, the 40-year-old Tabou Combo will emphasize konpa, a danceable, polyrhythmic Haitian style that incorporates African-derived guitar, sappy Dominican-influenced synths, funky bass, percussion, and melodic vocals. While these globe-trotting ambassadors won’t solve political issues with one show, it’s at least a step in the right direction.
The Haitian-Dominican Friendship Concert begins at 7 p.m. at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th St. and Constitution Ave. NW. Free. nmafa.si.edu. (202) 633-4600.