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Los Amigos Invisibles

Los Amigos Invisibles are anything but what they announced in the title of their 1995 debut, A Typical and Autoctonal Venezuelan Dance Band. The allusion was clearly meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and humor has been a running theme over the band's 14-year career. First, there's nothing typical about Amigos, a fact that avowed fan David Byrne will back up. Second, there aren't a whole lot of Venezuelan dance bands, and at the time of the group's inception, there were virtually none. Finally, autoctonal isn't a real word, of course. And if the title of that groundbreaking album is hard to dissect, so is the band's sound. "When they ask what type of musician I am whenever I'm crossing customs and immigration," says frontman Julio Briceño, "I say, 'We're a Latin-funk-house band.'"

It was not until the band's move from Caracas to New York in 2001, though, that things would truly take off for Los Amigos Invisibles. With backing from Byrne and other famous fans, the six friends would be catapulted from "a typical Venezuelan dance band" to an internationally recognized alternative/dance act. Since that debut record, the band has released eight records (six of them studio albums), including the latest, Commercial, released this past June. With that output have come five Grammy nods (two general market, three Latin) and a fiercely devoted fan base.

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Christopher Lopez

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