What does being an Afro-Latino band mean? My favorite LA bands in their own words

by Tom Nguyen

Seems like folks really enjoyed my last blog on 6 upcoming Los Angeles Latin Alternative bands to watch, so I wanted to follow up with my favorite Afro Latino bands, heating up dance floors all over SoCal with their tropical rhythms (in alphabetical order): Buyepongo, Changui Majadero, El Santo Golpe, La Chamba, QUITAPENAS, Tropi Corillo and YANGA.

Now, I’m not an ethnomusicologist…I’m not qualified to give you an academic lecture on what makes each of these bands different, from which cultures and regions of Latin America they derive their music, and so on. What I do know is I’m a sucker for percussion and tropical beats, and music like this gets me into a non-stop frenzy on the dance floor!

But beyond that, I’d rather you hear from the musicians themselves, to let them tell you in their own words what their band and their music is all about. And let’s talk about labels again…”Afro Latino”…it seems like everyone wants to throw that term around these days. African descendants and roots in Latin America have been so historically unacknowledged, and in Los Angeles, there’s a tight knit community of bands reclaiming and honoring African contributions that bleed deeply through their music.

Because Afro-Latino heritage has been so suppressed and unacknowledged in home countries and communities here in LA, I wanted to know what drove each band’s interest in this music and why they think there are so few musicians of Afro-Latino descent in LA. I wanted to especially hear from some of the bands who’ve used their music and platform to highlight anti-blackness in Latino communities and to work towards more solidarity between Black and Brown communities. Folks in these bands are passionate about their music and its history, but also willing to talk frankly on heavy issues that go beyond the music. I want to thank each of them for their time and make sure you catch them at one of many upcoming shows: All of them are playing free shows, with 3 of them at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles starting this weekend and 2 of them at South LA Power Fest on September 2nd! Continue Reading →

Our Picks for NYE 2017 in Los Angeles!

by Tom Nguyen

When I’m considering where to spend New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, I look for 3 things:

  • Great live bands and dance music we typically cover on this site.
  • It won’t break the bank (Some free, most under $30).
  • Whether big or small events, I’m looking for good vibes, not pretentiousness.

If you’re looking for the same, here are my recommendations (in order of cost): Continue Reading →

Loving Day Weekend: Mixed Remixed Festival, Nana Dijo and Blaxicans

by Tom Nguyen

Sunday, June 12 is Loving Day, a holiday commemorating the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia that struck down bans against interracial marriage and multiracial families. In this election year of open racism and blatant xenophobia, it’s so important for us to remember the hard-fought victories by people like Mildred and Richard Loving to overcome hatred and intolerance enforced by the very laws of the land.

The folks who have always swam against societal currents that pressure us to stay segregated are the folks who dare cross the color lines for love. While the majority of couples prefer to date their own race or ethnicity, interracial unions are on the rise! According to Pew Research, “Multiracial Americans are at the cutting edge of social and demographic change in the U.S.—young, proud, tolerant and growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole.”

Despite their growth (currently about 10% of US households), biracial and multiracial individuals, couples and families are an exceedingly complex group, many of whom feel very misunderstood by their own families and communities at large. They face different forms of discrimination, intolerance and misunderstanding, depending on their combination of race and ethnicity, and are underrepresented in public policy, health care issues, media and more.

One festival which aims to raise awareness on the mixed race experience is Mixed Remixed Festival, which is the nation’s largest gathering of mixed-race and multiracial families and people, taking place at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles, June 10-11, 2016. In its third year, the all-volunteer festival is free to the public and brings together film and book lovers, innovative and emerging artists, and multiracial and multicultural families and individuals for workshops, readings, performances, and film screenings.

Continue Reading →