The Samba Music of ’70s Brazil Did More Than Make People Dance — It Resisted a Dictatorship

samba-society-brazil-70

Beto Gonzalez (center) and Samba Society

My latest piece in LA Weekly:

Brazilian-American musician Beto Gonzalez was too young to understand the country around him when his family returned to Brazil in the 1970s. It was only as he grew older, after coming back to the U.S., that he learned of how samba music became an important tool in the struggle against the country’s military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

Now, as the founder and artistic leader of Samba Society, Gonzalez hopes to share that history with a local audience during a time when the current political climates in the two countries he calls home have slid towards the types of attitudes that led to Brazil’s dictatorship.

Samba Society’s Brasil 70: Samba/Soul/Resistance, which they’ll perform this Friday at the newly restored Ford Amphitheatre, explores the rise of samba music in a decade marked by political censorship, repression, kidnappings and torture. Samba, forro and other genres of Brazilian music kept the spirit of resistance alive among the masses as the movement against the dictatorship grew, a resistance Gonzalez learned about during his studies at UCLA and in Rio de Janeiro as an ethnomusicology major.

Click this link to read the rest.

Advertisements
Posted in Festival, History, Latino, Music, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hip-Hop: First Peoples, New Voices [photos]

Indigenous artists have embraced hip-hop as a means to reclaim their cultural heritage after centuries of displacement, discrimination, and genocide. The folks at Grand Performances brought out a number of these artists to share their music, dances, and stories.

Below are some of my favorite photos of the night. The rest are at my flickr.

na_hiphop_001 na_hiphop_006 na_hiphop_012na_hiphop_018 na_hiphop_025na_hiphop_028 na_hiphop_029na_hiphop_033 na_hiphop_036na_hiphop_044 na_hiphop_047na_hiphop_051 na_hiphop_058

Posted in Music, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why More Indigenous Artists Are Using Hip-Hop to Reclaim Their Heritage

sampsons_waln

The links between hip-hop and indigenous people aren’t obvious at first. What could pop-locking, graffiti-tagging sneaker heads possibly have in common with peoples whose cultures date back centuries in the Western hemisphere?

But as some of the artists performing at the Hip-Hop: First Peoples, New Voices event at Grand Performances explain it, the links and parallels are abundant in the music, the art, the narratives and the dances. Most important, hip-hop is a channel for these artists to reclaim their people’s culture and heritage by building up their communities with their own voices.

The Saturday, July 1, event will feature performances by Jessa Calderon (Tongva/Chumash/Mexica), Frank Waln (Sicangu Lakota), The Sampson Brothers (Mvskoke Creek/Seneca), Tanaya Winder (Southern Ute/Duckwater Shoshone/Pyramid Lake Paiute), MC RedCloud (Huichol) and Mare Advertencia Lirika (Zapoteca).

Read the rest at LA Weekly!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A.Chal Infuses His Hypnotic R&B With His South American Roots

achal_anand_sheth

A.Chal (aka Alejandro Salazar) is a tall dude who cuts an imposing figure, filling every room he steps into with silent intensity. His voice carries as much weight as the booming bass he produces for his music, but he’s soft-spoken during our interview, rarely speaking above a murmur. There’s an interesting duality to his persona as a singer, rapper, producer and solo artist, which continues to evolve on his latest release, On Gaz.

On Gaz, A.Chal’s third release and first mixtape, arrived on June 2, four years after his debut EP Ballroom Riots and just one year after his first full-length album, Welcome to Gazi. On the latter release, the Peruvian-American artist was the self-aware party boy who sought self-reflection and self-critique after debaucherous nights out on the town. On this new release, which features appearances by French Montana and A$AP Nast, he confronts his feelings of guilt after his insecurities convinced him to destroy numerous personal relationships in the months leading up to the release of Welcome to Gazi.

A.Chal sharpened his skills as a songwriter while living in New York, but friends urged him to head west to Los Angeles. Since moving here, he’s been better able to find inspiration and outlet for his creativity, resulting in an album, a mixtape and songwriting credits for the likes of Rita Ora, Max Martin and Jennifer Lopez.

Read more at LA Weekly.

Posted in Latino, Music, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Photos: Mexico vs. Croatia (International Friendly) @ L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Below are a few of my favorite photos from the game. The complete set can be by clicking HERE.

mexico_croatia_la_004

mexico_croatia_la_005

mexico_croatia_la_008

mexico_croatia_la_011

mexico_croatia_la_014

mexico_croatia_la_016

mexico_croatia_la_020

mexico_croatia_la_024

mexico_croatia_la_027

mexico_croatia_la_031

mexico_croatia_la_040

mexico_croatia_la_042

mexico_croatia_la_043

mexico_croatia_la_045

mexico_croatia_la_054

mexico_croatia_la_065

mexico_croatia_la_068

mexico_croatia_la_070

mexico_croatia_la_076

mexico_croatia_la_079 mexico_croatia_la_091

mexico_croatia_la_094

mexico_croatia_la_100

mexico_croatia_la_102

Posted in Football (soccer), Latino, Sports, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

La Doce Para Guadalajara

chivascampeon

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“You Gotta Let Us Be Humans”: Cedric Bixler-Zavala on At the Drive-In’s New Album

atdi_bandpic_hires1

Would you say it’s a political record or simply a reaction to the times?
I think it’s a reaction to the times. It’s done what I’ve always done. I’ve called myself the court jester of the band. I’ll give you a bunch of fucking riddles and they’re not always going to be so immediately-in-front-of-your-face. There’s going to be a lot of word associations, there’s going to be a lot of combinations of words that will paint images that will come back to haunt you later and [you’ll] go, “Maybe he means this or maybe he doesn’t mean that.”

To this day, I still think about what an “ecto-mimed bison” could be [from The Mars Volta’s “The Haunt of Roulette Dares”].
[Laughs] I mean, I can break that down for you, but it’d be so stupid! It’s the ghost of something extinct haunting you, you know? And now that I say that, like, why didn’t I just say it that way? No, I’m not going to say it that way! I’ve had a grip of art school teachers invalidate me as a kid. If I don’t say it like I say it, it’s like coloring within the lines.

When did the band decide to write new music? You were shutting down rumors until last January’s announcement about a new tour and new music.
We just wanted to make sure that it came out right, we wanted to make sure that everyone was down to do it, and we wanted to make sure that it didn’t come off half-cocked. It takes a lot of planning to do something that you hadn’t done together in 17 years. You’re figuring out if it can be done, you’re figuring out what does the band remember that they liked, what are we trying to say, what are we trying to do, and it takes time — since 2012 actually! Some of those songs from 2012 ended up on the record. It’s a human quality that people perceive which, naively and romantically, I think that’s what people like about the band. We’re not pushing spacebars and we’re not a Las Vegas act. If we have a bad show, you’re going to see it. If we have a bad song, you’re going to fucking hear it — but you gotta let us be humans.

Read more at LA Weekly Music.

Posted in Latino, Music, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment