Vaudeville, Folklorico, and Mexican Cinema

I have three stories published on KCET this week!

The first is about the Hola Mexico Film Festival. 2020 marks its 12th year and founder Samuel Douek had to make numerous changes to move the festival to an online format.

Read about it here: https://www.kcet.org/shows/southland-sessions/the-hola-mexico-film-festival-moves-online

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.

Read it here: https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/pacifico-dance-company-sharing-the-love-of-traditional-mexican-dance-around-the-world

Finally, my favorite of the three: I delve into the history of Hispanic/Spanish-language vaudeville in Los Angeles.

Read all about it here: https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/broadsides-reveal-las-once-booming-hispanic-vaudeville-scene

Indie Venues In So Cal Struggle To Remain Open

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.

LINK: Endangered Indie Music Venues Band Together to Seek a Lifeline

EXCERPT:

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.

FC Barcelona Camp Nou tour 2019

I visited FC Barcelona‘s Camp Nou stadium last year on April 5th, which was the day before they defeated Atlético de Madrid with two late goals. It was exciting to have walked down the same tunnel many legendary players have walked through.

Here’s a short video of the tour including the walkthrough of the locker room area and the player tunnel ending with the entrance onto the field:

And a few photos:

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Lionel Messi’s 5 Balon d’Or on display at the stadium museum.
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The press area.
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The full album of photos is available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/afroxander/albums/72157714330528121

Spring 2020 Music Roundup: The Sequel

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.

And if you need a refresher, take a dip back into the previous music roundup here: https://afroxander.com/2020/04/06/spring-2020-music-roundup/

Chicano BatmanInvisible People

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.”

Says Olmeca:

“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_modUPidgin 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.”

‘The System Failed Him:’ For The Last Remaining Sibling Of The Zaragoza Family, Measure R Is A Matter Of Life And Death

Annette Zaragoza-Bilow didn’t have a role in crafting Measure R, but her support for the measure is deeply personal. If it passes, the measure will not only give the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission stronger oversight power, but will also restructure the infrastructure in how Los Angeles county incarcerates people and, more importantly, treats people with mental health issues. 

She hopes that the ordinance will help people like her brother, Gerry Dean Zaragoza, before it’s too late.

“My brother tried to get help for many years before the incident,” she recalls in an interview with LA Taco.

Read more at LA Taco: https://www.lataco.com/zaragoza-measure-r/