Next is my conversation with Adriana Astorga-Gainey and Jesenia Gardea of the Pacifico Dance Company. The Los Angeles-based non-profit company takes a serious approach to folklorico dance that centers on training professional dancers.
The music industry has found itself in a unique predicament during the pandemic. The global shutdown forced festivals and artists worldwide to cancel all live performances for the foreseeable future. One solution to the global quarantine has been the use of distanced concerts at drive-ins and, more popularly, streaming concerts online with the help of radio stations and other media companies.
One sector of the live performance industry that has been overlooked is the plight of independent venues. In my latest story for KCET, and my first for their new initiative Southland Sessions, I write about the National Independent Venue Association, a non-profit working with independent venues in the US to help them get the assistance they need to remain open until the pandemic ends and millions of music lovers can regroup at their favorite venues to see their favorite artists.
After 25 years of live music, The Satellite (also formerly known as Spaceland) in Silver Lake will remove its performance stage along with the infamous shimmering, sparkling, blue-and-silver curtain that served as a backdrop to thousands of nightly concerts as the owners transition the business into a restaurant for the COVID-19 era.
“We can no longer afford to wait for the day we will be allowed to have shows again,” reads a statement on the venue’s website. “If we do that, we will not have the money to continue and will be forced to close forever.”
The future of live music venues, especially independent ones, in SoCal and across the nation, looks bleak, and the present-day situation is already precarious. Venues have had no source of revenue since the announcement of the pandemic in early March and continue to struggle to survive. The statement by Satellite owner Jeff Wolfram is just one example of the extreme measures some owners are taking to keep their businesses alive in any way possible.
It’s been exactly a month since the last Music Roundup and there’s been no lack of musical releases since then. We’re still (kinda) stuck indoors thanks to the ‘Rona but at least we can quarantine in style with some tunes. Below are some of my favorite tunes since the last music roundup.
The LA quartet returns with another serving of psychedelic tropicalia on their new album, Invisible People. It’s a feel-good collection dripping in West Coast summer vibes. Excuse me while I go tan in my backyard next to the kiddie pool with this album in the background.
Groove Armada – “Get out on the dance floor”
Who remembers Groove Armada? I certainly do! The duo of Andy Cato and Tom Findlay are back after a decade-long hiatus (or whatever artists call lengthy breaks away from recording new albums these days) with a new single and soon-to-be new album as well.
Nakury & Barzo – “Para Mi Gente”
Barzo made an appearance in last month’s roundup with his collaboration with Un Rojo Reggae Band. This time, he drops a new video with fellow Costa Rican artist Nakury for a track that is equal parts hip-hop and salsa.
Olmeca – “The Message (El Mensaje)”
Olmeca has, in my opinion, a highly underrated rhyming style and flow that KOs me with each successive bar. That’s on full display on “The Message,” a song that shatters the far too repeated adage of “ni de aqui, ni de alla.”
“The message is Latinx folks should claim they are from here and from there. As opposed to “not” from here “nor” there. We should see our growing up in two cultures as an asset and not a deficit. While many “keep it 100” we have the ability to “keep it 200”. This means, we don’t give half of who we are to fit into mainstream America. Rather, we walk with both enrich things around us. It is a privilege to be able to grow up with two, sometimes more, languages. It’s a privilege to understand two worlds and be bridges that can bring people together. This isn’t only true in Latinx culture, but many 1st generation people who’s homes carry the traditions of their native lands.”
sUb_modU – Pidgin Synths
sUb_modU is the artistic nom de guerre of tenor sax musician and electronic producer Romeo Sandri. His latest project includes two covers, or I’d say reimaginings, of Fela Kuti’s “Expensive Shit” and “Water Get No Enemy.”
One of the things keeping my sanity intact during the COVID-19 pandemic is music. There is, thankfully, still plenty of new music being released on a regular, normal basis. That sense of normalcy is appreciated. That being said, I present some artists & tunes I’ve been listening to for the past month or so while dealing with short bursts of existential dread. Enjoy!
Barzo & Un Rojo Reggae Band – “Electrified”
DJ/producer Barzo of Costa Rica teams up with Un Rojo Reggae Band on this track, which Barzo also published via his label, Lacteo Cosmico.
Carré – “This is not a band”
Carré is a French trio based in Los Angeles. The track above is the group’s debut single and reminds me of the types of bangers prevalent during the early and mid-2000s when Soulwax, Ed Banger, Justice, and Digitalism ruled dance floors worldwide.
Cheo – Sorpresa
Jose Luis Pardo makes his solo debut. Well, technically, it’s his debut without using a stage name. He originally went solo as DJ Afro in 2007 with the EP-1 four-track album. followed by the 2011 full-length album, Free. He was still a member of Los Amigos Invisibles, which he founded, during then. In 2014, he dabbled with a nu-disco project under the name Orquesta Discotheque and released an album of disco-fied covers titled Musica Moderna.
On Sorpresa, Cheo expresses himself fully, completely, and honestly as a singer, songwriter, musician, and producer. Says Cheo:
It took me some time time to write my own music again and re-invent myself after years of writing for a “sex-infused party band.” Who was I now?
In June 2019, I had a break from producing and decided to check all the song ideas to make a selection and produce them, maybe as someone else’s album, the same way I produced as my job.
The result is Sorpresa. What came out was a surprise to me in every way. I didn’t know I had all that music inside me. I didn’t know I was going to be an artist again…these songs feel like a book I needed to write after living so much, after I thought my career as an artist was done.
Esteman – “Hasta Que Tú Me Quieras”
The Colombian artist provides a peek and the soundtrack to what will hopefully be pandemic-free summer nights ahead. Here’s hoping the beaches and piers on the west coast can be reopened by late June.
LASTMONDAY – “Audemars”
Bronx-Dominican artist LASTMONDAY got stuck in Miami, FL when the COVID-19 lockdown went into effect. He and director Modern Day Auteur made the most of the situation and shot a video for his track “Audemars,” off his upcoming mixtape Yo! Tigerito.
N.Y.P.D. 南洋派對 – 南洋派對
Google Translate tells me that the name of this band is N.Y.P.D. Nanyang Party. I don’t know much else about these guys other than their lyrics/vocals are in Cantonese and that their album was released via Yeti Out’s HK label Silk Road Sounds. Oh, and it’s damn good garage/punk rock n’ roll.
Superposition – Form//Less
Superposition is the “meditative antidote to a world of digital overwhelm” created by the duo Justin Boreta and Matthew Davis. The five-track EP makes a great soundtrack for rest, relaxation, and soothing your anxiety, which is exactly what many of us need these days.
How do you explain the Latin American experience in Los Angeles? That’s a complex question, but we are sure it would look, sound, and feel a little something like this year’s Tropicália festival.
Over two days, the Fairplex in Pomona hosted Goldenvoice’s newest musical endeavor, which brought to life a mixtape that encapsulated the past, present, and future of Latin American music and brought multiple generations of Latinos and others together for a truly inclusive weekend of fun.
There were plenty of moments that encapsulated that feeling. There was the young lady who called her parents on FaceTime so that they could watch Peruvian romance balladeers Los Pasteles Verdestogether. There were the two comadres who made their way to the front of the stage for Los Tigres Del Norte and held each other as they sang, screamed, and cried to every song alongside girls young enough to be their granddaughters. There were the young goths who patiently waited for Prayers’ set by singing along with Paquita La Del Barrio who performed before their favorite duo did on the same stage. There were the Asian and African-American kids moshing together with the Latinos in more pits than I could count. There were the young gabachas who swooned at Kali Uchis’ every movement.