Founded by Costa Rica's Manuel Obregón, Papaya Music began as a joint Central American musical experiment led by the Papaya Orchestra, a Central American orchestra which combined today's modern influences and urban sounds with traditional instruments and rhythms of the Central American Isthmus. The fourteen musicians that compose the Papaya Orchestra come from seven different countries, and every artist brought into the project the music from each of their homes. With traditional instruments and a local soul, the musicians reproduced their homeland's music, from the sacred to the mundane, deftly tying these diverse rhythms under one concept: The Central American World Music. The Papaya Music Project evidences the ethnic and cultural convergence in Central America; where European, African and indigenous influences come together in a musical fusion that not only includes the Papaya Orchestra, but also their own record label Papaya Music and now the Papaya Fest.
The Papaya Fest is more than a concert laden week in San José, it also includes the Central American Music Fest. The Central American Label Festival brought independent Central American record labels to the Costa Rican music stores to increase availability and visibility, and has organized conferences with these same independent labels as well as representatives from Record labels such as Putumayo World Music and the Núcleo Contemporaneo de Sao Paulo to share their experiences in placing traditional music in the world market as a high quality and competitive product. So far it appears that the effort to bring the Central American Music out to the popular audiences has been successful. For this festival there are free concerts planned throughout the Central Valley at major shopping malls as well as inexpensive concerts in downtown San Jose. For less than $2, you can see great quality artists in a one of a kind show.
The main events of the Papaya Fest will take place in Downtown San Jose, right next to the historic metallic school in Barrio Amon. On February 16 the festival starts off with the Papaya Orchestra at 7pm. The 17th is the day for the Caribbean music: Costa Rica's Calypso Jazz Band, Honduras’s garifuna Aurelio Martínez , Costa Rican afro-Caribbean Cantoamerica and Hondura's Guillermo Anderson present themselves at 7pm. Then on Saturday at 6pm the Central American urban music scene takes the stage with Belize's The Grandmaster playing with Costa Rica's Amarillo, Cyan y Magenta, then Panama's Señor Loop, Nicaraguan Perrozompopo and Costa Rica's Gandhi. The Festival will wrap up with Costa Rica's Malpais and all the Central American groups playing together at 6pm on Sunday.
Bloggers in Costa Rica such as Ana, Leo, Analu and Julia Ardon mention the festival and urge others to attend, Jon4th4n tells about his experience buying tickets, leaving his keys inside his car and staying for a Manuel Obregon concert at a popular mall. S wrote a critique on the name election, considering that the word “fest” has been overused and lacks originality, and suggests “Festival de la Papaya”, a phrase in Spanish, as a better representaton of the great quality of the concerts.