Showing posts with label Latino Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Latino Music. Show all posts

Friday, November 12, 2010

Record Review: Maneja Beto’s 'Escante Calling' and the future of American Indie-rock

left to right: Bobby Garza, Alec Padron, Patrick Estrada, Nelson Valente and Alex Chavez

Maneja Beto's new album Escante Calling (A Rare Calling) should not just be noticed by Spanish speakers, but recognized by music industry at large. Not just because it’s great record, but because of the direction it’s pointing. Maneja Beto will probably never become a household name (although if I ruled the world it would be) but the concept of the band’s music will become as commonplace as reggae or hip-hop: “Indie en Español” is a genre we’re going to be hearing more.

I met singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Alex Chavez in a Cultural Anthropology seminar at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005 when we had both just started our Master’s degrees (he completed PhD just this year). Once I heard his band's music, the genre “Indie en Español” made perfect sense. Maneja’s music lies in that nebulous “Indie” zone, a term that has lost it’s original meaning identifying a band’s separation from major record companies. These days it’s more of a category describing the fusion of styles, sounds and instruments. “Indie” is where experimental popular music lies.

If you like Radiohead, Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend and the Arcade Fire, you’ll probably like Maneja Beto. And if you’re a non-Spanish speaker, I guarantee the music is interesting enough that you might not mind so much that you can’t understand the words. Who can understand what Thom Yorke sings anyway?


Maneja Beto's fun video of the last track of the album "Ofrendas"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Austin bound! Two of my favorite Austinite bands - Maneja Beto and The Asylum Street Spankers

This weekend I'm off to one of the best cities in the country: Austin, Texas. For two days and three nights I'm going to visit my favorite haunts from grad school and eat lots of breakfast tacos. When I lived I immersed myself in the healthy, historical and revved up music scene. I discovered two fabulous bands that the rest of the world should know about: Maneja Beto and the Asylum Street Spankers.

Maneja Beto, self described as "indie in Español," is the brain child of Anthropologist Alex Chavez. I met him in one of my seminars and his band quickly became one of the most unique and fun bands I've ever come across: think Joy Division and Elbow sung in Spanish with latin rhythms. Alex studies Mexican folk music and culture and is also in several other bands in Austin. Percussionist Bobby Garza is equally impressive on vocals and percussion. This is a super fun band to dance live as well.

The Asylum Street Spankers I met during my master's report research into Gospel Bunch in Austin. The research it self is a long story, but it turns out this irreverent, silly band who sings about beer and superheros, is also well versed in gospel favorites. They used to play the Gospel Brunch at La Zona Rosa in the 90s when they first got together. I interviewed Christina Marrs (WOW what a voice!) and percussionist/vocalist Wammo for my research and was lucky enough to catch them while they were doing a whole series of gospel shows at the Saxon Pub.

The musical vibe is traditional vaudeville from the early part of the 20th century with Betty Boop vocals (sometimes) banjos, mandolins and washboard percussion. But the lyrical themes of the tunes poke fun (SUV drivers in support of troops in the Middle East) at life both modern and past and just having a grand old sarcastic fun time. You will laugh your ass off: promise. They tour regularly, so check out their touring schedule.

Note: this band is not for the faint of heart. Language! language! language! (I just discovered a song called "Scrotum".)

Here's a gospel tune...

And a good old favorite...

Anyway, I'm off to eat breakfast tacos, sit in a river with a toob and a six-pack, hang at Barton Springs and sweat my butt off.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why I moved to the Mission

This evening I parked my car around the corner from my apartment and heard some salsa music coming from somewhere. The geek that I am, I followed it down the block and found a salsa band rehearsing at Pepe's Automotive Repair on South Van Ness between 26th and Cesar Chavez St. Love it.

Upon further exploration I found that it was Pepe y su Orquestra rehearsing for a gig. The three vocalists are brothers originally from Peru. Love it.

Here are some photos I took with my crappy phone camera.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Musical Moments: "Hotel California" by the Gipsy Kings in 'The Big Lebowski' with Jesus

In the making the San Francisco, California Mix, I was reminded of one of my favorite musical moments of all time: the introduction of the character Jesus, played by John Turturro, in The Big Lebowski accompanied by the Gipsy King's rendition of "Hotel California."

The editing is perfectly timed with the music. Each frame tells you exactly what you need to know about this character, no more and no less: the rings, the purple outfit one long nasty fingernail, the hairnet, the tongue (oh gawd that tongue!), the bowling stance, the "Jesus" embroidery, the kiss he blows at Donnie...

The little dance Jesus does after his strike: it kills me every time.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I was a guest blogger for Girls Rock Camp Austin for South by Southwest: Those Darlins and Girl in a Coma, supporting bands who support the community

Girl in a Coma will play Girl's Rock Camp's Showcase at SXSW

Rock Camp has been around long enough that it is not just about the girls anymore. While the girl campers who sign up for Rock Camp all around the country (and the world) are the fire that keep it all going, Camp is just as much about the adult woman who support it: whether it be the staff, volunteers or the bands who play.

Girl in a Coma and Those Darlins are two bands that I have become a fan of due to their involvement in Rock Camp. It’s a musical symbiotic relationship. Women have a history of solidarity and this is no exception. BUT, and hear me on this, it takes GOOD music to hold my attention as a fan, it doesn’t matter who makes it.

Girl in a Coma played the Girls Rock Camp 2009 SXSW Showcase and I have been a supporter since. READ MORE ON THE ROCK CAMP BLOG HERE.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An exciting musical week coming up including everything from showtunes to Afro-Latino dance music

Martín Perna and Adrian Quesada of Ocote Soul Sounds play in giant straws

I was just updating the show calender down there on the right and I realized that starting tomorrow night, I have a show every day through the weekend and into next week. So I figured I would share these exciting shows with all of you. I will hopefully be at all of them, but we'll see how ye old feet (and eardrums) do.

Wednesday, May 13 Stevie Wonder- James Brown Birthday with Realistic Orchestra. Funky Funky Fun. What else can I say? Bring your dancing shoes. The Independent $15

Thursday, May 14 Theresa Andersson - Singer-songwriter from New Orleans. Performing at the Swedish American Hall, $14 Read my recent story about Andersson and her amazing one woman show here.

Friday, May 15 "Showboat in Concert" The Oakland East Bay Symphony and the Oakland Symphony Chorus. Season Finale Concert! $25-$70 The Paramount Theater.

Saturday, May 16 Mutaytor Burning Man regular circus troupe from Los Angeles brings a multi-media experience blending high energy music with amazing performance art. $20 Mezzanine.

Sunday, May 17 Ocote Soul Sounds, Afro-Latin electronic funky dance music from Austin, Texas. Basically, the afrobeat giant Antibalas and Latin dance band Grupo Fantasma had a funky baby. Again, bring dancing shoes. $8-$10 La Peña Cultural Center

Monday May 18 Doves - dense, brooding gorgeousness from Manchester. Read my review of their last album Kingdom of Rust here. $27.50 the Fillmore

Friday, April 3, 2009

Two great international artists on tour: Habib Koite & Lila Downs

Here is an article I wrote about two great shows this weekend in the Bay Area.

Malian Habib Koite and his band Bamada are on tour and will be performing at Zellerbach Hall with Cal Performances.  Performing at the Fillmore is Mexican singer/songwriter Lila Downs. Check and see if they are coming to a theater near you!

Habib Koite's website

Lila Downs website

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SxSW Day 1 highlights: La Papuna, Follow that Bird!, Blues Mafia & Girl in Coma

Started off the day traipsing around downtown Austin with my friend from PDX Pop Now! and stumbled upon Brazilian dance band La Papuna at the Beauty Bar. This is not your typical salsa band, they mix surf music, rock and the regional Brazilian Guitarrada style. It was fun watching the already intoxicated hipsters "dance."

Later I took the bus down to Joe's Coffee on South Congress to volunteer for a Grounded in Music and Girls Rock Camp benefit party and sell merch and $2 beer. My favorite bands were Austin's local Blues Mafia and Follow that Bird!

If you like the Yeah Yeah Yeah's you will dig this band, the little ladies of Girls Rock Camp do too, they LOVE them.  Follow that Bird! (pictured in dryers) will be playing tomorrow at the Girls Rock official day party on the roof of Whole Foods.

Another band that knocked my socks off was Blues Mafia straight out of highschool and Austin's Rock Camp (where boys are allowed).  FYI: lead singer Sasha Ortiz is 19 years old and sounding a little like Amy Winehouse. This is a singer to keep your eye on. 

After dinner I headed down to the Girls Rock Camp Showcase.  Favorite band of the night: Girl in Coma from San Antonio (featured with giant mic above).  These Latin ladies put on a terrific show and drew a large crowd. I love lead singers facial expressions.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tequila!: The Champs, Danny Flores and Pee-wee

The scene is classic, the song: immortalized. And after a raucous New Year's Eve in 2001, I will never touch tequila again...

In 1957, a random grouping of musicians gathered in Los Angeles to record a group of songs for Gene Autry's record label Challenge Records. Pictured above Joe Burnas on bass, Dale Norris on lead guitar, Dave Burgess on rhythm guitar, Gene Alden on drums and Chuck Rio (born Danny Flores, the son of Mexican American fieldworkers) on vocals and sax.

"Tequila" was recorded last, and was composed on the spot based on a "raunchy" latin tinged saxophone solo written by Flores, the "God Father of Mexican Rock." The song was released as the B-side for "Train to Nowhere" but skyrocketed up the charts to reach #1 in March of 1958.

This group of musicians went on to become the Champs named after Gene Autry's horse, Champion. In 1959, "Tequila" won a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. Flores parted ways with the band soon after due to inter-band feuding and went onto form the surf band, the Persuaders.

Even though he signed the rights away to most of his royalty earnings on the song, Flores has been immortalized by his cry of "tequila!" They played it at his funeral in 2006. His wife Sharee said he never got tired of playing it.

In 1986, the song appeared in Pee-wee's Big Adventure when Pee-wee dances his way out of certain death in a biker bar after knocking over dozens of bikes. He finds "Tequila" on the jukebox and borrows a busboy's ridiculous white platform shoes to rock this scene.


Monday, December 15, 2008

NPR: Ozomatli and listener favorites of 2008

Ya Se Fue! Ya Se Fue!

I love NPR.  It's really the only radio station I listen to on a regular basis.  I used to listen to the radio a lot in high school, but now I usually just like to listen to my own music. But sometimes I really do find really terrific community radio that I like, but I have to actively go out and find it.  

NPR and it's regional affiliates, are the only stations I can stomach. It makes me feel smarter. Anyone else feel that way?  I know you do.

I also tend to think I have much in common with other folks that support National Public Radio. After working for KUT in Austin I have great respect for the folks that are in charge of the music programming.  I also know that their music tastes tend to be more under the radar than, say, oh, Top 40 radio.  But that's no surprise.

SO, first and foremost, I want to direct you to a KQED's (NPR Bay Area affiliate) interview with Ozomatli.  In the interview the men of Ozomatli share many of their political and social views, poke fun at each other and play some tunes live.  

Last Thursday I saw Ozo play a reunion show with rapper Chali 2na (also of Jurassic 5) at the Fillmore in San Francisco. They put on an absolutely awesome show. I've seen them now probably 5 times in the last 10 years all over the country and have enjoyed them every time. Los Angelian based Ozomatli plays music that is somewhere between hip-hop, Mexican dance music and funk.  All I know, is that it's a massive dance party every time they play.

I was a little concerned about the show since I haven't been too excited about some of their newer tracks ("Don't Mess with the Dragon" and "Saturday Night"), but they whipped out the old tunes with great energy and passion ("Cumbia de los Muertos,"  and "Super Bowl Sundae").  They ended the show, as they do every show, coming into the audience, playing in a drum circle, and leading folks out into the lobby as the show ends.  This last show was complete with breakdancing chickens and giant Ozomatli balloons.

Anyway, if you like Ozo, or are interesting in getting to know one of the best under-appreciated bands of the last 15 years, check out this hysterical interview.  These guys love what they do, and they love each other, which always adds to the enjoyment and chemistry of a live show.

Also, today NPR released a list of NPR listener picked best music of 2008.  NPR's website has clips from each of these tracks, so if you are interested in what you may or may not have missed this year, check out this list. I believe there is a podcast to download as well. I haven't heard all of these bands, but most of them are pretty darn good.  I've hilighted some of my personal favorites.

I will also add some tracks onto the playlist. If you feel like it, leave your favorite album of the year in the comments, either on this list or not.  I'd love to know what you've loved this year.

I would add Gnarls Barkley's The Odd Couple.

1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes  "White Winter Hymnal"

2. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend "A-Punk"

3. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago "Skinny Love"

4. TV on the Radio - Dear Science "Halfway Home"

5. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs "Cath..."

6. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular "Time to Pretend"

7. She & Him - Volume One "Change is Hard" 

8. Coldplay - Viva la Vida "Lover's in Japan/Reign of Love"

9. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges "Evil Urges"

10. Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords "Business Time"

11. Sigur Rós - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust "Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur"

12. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins "Pop Lie"

13. Beck - Modern Guilt "Chemtrails"

14. Kimya Dawson and Antsy Pants -  Juno (the soundtrack) "Tree Hugger"

15. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely "Many Shades of Black"

16. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals "In Step"

17. The Black Keys - Attack & Release "Psychotic Girl"

18. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst "Lenders in the Temple"

19. Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue "Acid Tongue"

20. Kings of Leon - Only by Night "Manhattan" 

21. Bob Dylan - Bootleg Series "Dreamin' of You"

22. Punch Brothers - Punch "Blind Leaving the Blind: 1st Movement"

23. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive "Constructive Summer"

24. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping "Id Engager"

Again, please leave your favorite music of the year as a comment.  I'd love to hear it whether it's Britney's new album (you know who I'm talking to) or Poison Apple Pie.