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Grupo Fantasma isn’t just another stereotypical roots-rock outfit. This multicultural 10-person combo with members from Nicaragua and Laredo, Texas, plays horn-led party music inspired by cumbia bands its members heard in Mexican dives, as well as ’70s funk, Dominican merengue, Santana, and War. Through the early oughts, Fantasma was just another band on the edge of making a living driving from bar to house party in search of paying gigs. But in December 2006, Fantasma’s manager sent a copy of the group’s live CD to Prince’s manager, and soon the band found itself playing with Mr. Purple Rain in Las Vegas, at a Golden Globes event in Los Angeles, and at a Super Bowl party. Sonidos Gold, the band’s newest album, suggests that the group’s newfound success hasn’t affected its approach. And while the vocals on the album are not always as strong as they should be, and the songwriting is occasionally too retro, it is hard to deny the instrumental strength of the band’s percussion section, quick-fingered guitarist, and booming brass players.
GRUPO FANTASMA PERFORMS AT 9 P.M. WITH NAYAS and BATALA AT THE BLACK CAT MAINSTAGE, 1811 14th St. NW. $15. (202) 667-4490.