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East L.A. Ensemble Performs During 49ers Weekend

SOCORRO, N.M. October 2, 2015 – A blend of music based on a regional folk music style from Veracruz, Mexico, will be performed by Las Cafeteras, an ensemble that hails from East Los Angeles, during New Mexico Tech’s 49ers weekend.

The seven-member group will take to the stage at Macey Center Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, in a Performing Arts Series (PAS) event that coincides with the university’s annual 49ers celebration.

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Las Cafeteras will perform at Macey Center on Friday, Oct. 16, during the annual 49ers Celebration.

 

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Las Cafeteras in their home environment in East Los Angeles.

 

 

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Las Cafeteras fuse roots music and modern-day storytelling.

 

From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., prior to the performance, Tech Club-Club Macey will host an event for the 21-and-older crowd featuring East L.A.-styled nachos a la velosos and quesadillas.

            Members of Las Cafeteras perform a musical genre known as “son jarocho,” a regional folk music style from the Mexican state of Veracruz along the Gulf of Mexico.

Comprising the group are Annette Torres, marimbol and zapateado; Daniel French, emcee: vocals, jarana and zapateado; David Flores, requinto; Denise Carlos, vocals, jarana, zapateado and glockenspiel; Hector Flores, vocals, jarana and zapateado; Jose Cano, cajon, flute, requinto and harmonica; and vocalist Leah Rose Gallegos, who also plays the zapateado.

“Most people have heard of the song ‘La Bamba’ as first performed by California musician Ritchie Valens, but few may know that it is a form of son jarocho,” said PAS Director Ronna Kalish.

“The East L.A. group Los Lobos also has recorded in the son jarocho genre, as has Mexican-American artist Lila Downs,” she said.

Son jarocho evolved over the last two and a half centuries along the coastal portions of southern Tamaulipas state and Veracruz state, hence the term jarocho, a colloquial word for people or things from the port city of Veracruz.

Las Cafeteras infuses the traditional son jarocho musical foundation with the Afro-Caribbean marimbol and cajón, poetry in English and Spanglish, and instruments such as the jarana, requinto, a donkey jawbone and a wooden platform called the tarima.

Other well-known examples of son jarocho are “El Coco,” “La Iguana,” “El Cascabel,” “El Chuchumbé” and “La Bruja.”

Las Cafeteras touts their message of unity, particularly during this presidential campaign year. In a band press release, Cafeteras said they want to “counter narratives of hate with a message of love and unity. With the escalation of electoral politics, racial tension and the debate over immigration reform among Presidential candidates, Las Cafeteras un-apologetically brings a bold sound to provoke thought and encourage debates on and off the dance floor.”

Known for creating infectious performances fusing roots music, and modern day storytelling, Las Cafeteras are finally taking their brand of urban dance folk to Midwestern and Southwestern states from Missouri and Iowa to Colorado and New Mexico. After a two-month coast-to-coast Bi-National Summer Tour including dates at New York’s Lincoln Center and the Montreal Jazz Festival, Las Cafeteras hit the road again to visit new cities to bang the drum of unity, solidarity and celebration.

“Once we dance together, then we can reason together. Music is a Universal language that brings people together. It does what words and politics can’t … speak to the heart,” said Daniel French, member of Las Cafeteras.

French compares the band to a modern-day Woody Guthrie. Las Cafeteras sing their socially charged stories to create a live performance that straddles the line between dance and dialogue. During election season where politicians tell you what you need, Las Cafeteras asks fans to stand up and speak out with songs like Senor Presidente, which ask the audience to share what they would do if they were President, or This Land which asks us to reimagine the idea of borders.

“If you see the world different. If you come from a different place or even disagree with us. We invite you, come meet us on the dance floor. Let the music unite us, and let's see what we have in common” says Leah Gallegos, singer with Las Cafeteras.

Las Cafeteras originated in 2005 by group of students who attended free son jarocho classes at the Eastside Café in the El Sereno area of L.A.

They were inspired to reflect the teachings of son jarocho as a tool to empower and build autonomy, community and solidarity while sharing with the public the magic of this traditional folk music from Southern Veracruz.

The ensemble has attracted quite a following over the past 10 years, a popular choice to play at L.A. community centers, churches, schools, parties, protests, youth conferences and weddings.  After a two-month coast-to-coast bi-national summer tour including dates at New York’s Lincoln Center and the Montreal Jazz Festival, this current tour takes Las Cafeteras to colleges and theatres in the mid, south and northwest.

Sharing son jarocho-inspired music through singing, spoken word (English, Spanish and “Spanglish”) and dancing (“zapateado”), Las Cafeteras gathers the teachings of son jarocho and imbues the music with their own stories.

Their mission is to learn, share and practice the beauty, culture and energy of this unique ethnic music to build autonomous communities. By telling their stories of life in the “concrete jungle,” Las Cafeteras strives to make this ancient music relevant to everyday people in everyday places.

Lyrics include humorous verses and subjects such as love, nature, sailors and cattle breeding that still reflect life in colonial and 19th century Mexico. Verses are often shared with the wider Mexican and Hispanic Caribbean repertoire, and some have even been borrowed from famous works by writers of the Spanish “Siglo de Oro.”

The concert is sponsored by WESTAF, the National Endowment for the Arts, New Mexico Graduate Student Association, Holiday Inn Express and The Vigilante Band.

“The Vigilantes, of course, originated here in Socorro by a group of New Mexico Tech students who return to the scene of the crime each year,” Kalish said.

“PAS has planned a special evening infused with the celebratory spirit that is such an important part of 49ers,” she continued. “We also hope the unique sounds of Las Cafeteras and its roots in Mexican folk music will have broad appeal to audiences in this part of the Southwest.”

Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for senior citizens 65 and over, and $8 for youths 17 and under, and are available at the Cashier’s Office, Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme Drive-up or at the door.

– NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech