Las Cafeteras bring a high-energy blend of Chicano music and social justice to the Vilar Friday
Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Las Cafeteras always strive to infuse the Chicano sounds of their collective heritage with modern sounds. This Friday, they play at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, but this isn’t the group’s first time playing a show on the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos.
In 2016, the band played the Day of the Dead celebration at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Band member Hector Flores – Flores and each of the band members are first-generation Americans – sang some of the songs in American Sign Language, building inclusivity at a time when tensions during the 2016 presidential election and the North Dakota pipeline running through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation peaked.
“The history of the Americas and this country is built on the narrative and fabric of migrant peoples and indigenous folks, but we’re not in the history books. So when we share our story it becomes radical, but it’s really not. They are just stories about our people … We’ve been here since day one as native people, as raza as people of color,” Flores said at the event, NBC reported.
Las Cafeteras are no stranger to using their music to promote political messages. Following President Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the band was one of many groups that released politically-charged singles. “If I Were President” bears resemblance to Wyclef Jean’s 2004 jab at President Bush of the same name. It was released on Jan. 20, Presidents’ Day, as a free download. Las Cafeteras’ version tackles issues like incarceration, education, living wages and of course, the infamous border wall.
“The President says he wants to build a wall,” said band member Denise Carlos in an interview with KQED, the San Francisco Bay Area’s NPR station. “Las Cafeteras want to build bridges.”
Despite their socially-conscious message, the band maintains that it’s not a political band.
“We’re organizers. We’re movement kids,” Flores said to NBC. “But we don’t say we’re political. We say we’re storytellers.”
Outside of their political stance, Las Cafeteras enjoys collaborating with other artists and crossing genre lines to create new sounds. Some artists they’ve worked with include Talib Kweli most recently, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as well as other latinx artists like Caifanes and Lila Downs.
The group often sings in both English and Spanish – Spanglish – and incorporates a healthy amount of hip-hop and punk, both popular styles of music in the City of Angles, into its sound. It always comes back to its roots, especially by using traditional instruments like the quijada (a donkey jawbone) and a tarmina (a wooden platform) among others.
Las Cafeteras’ special Dia de los Muertos set will light up the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32 and can be bought by visiting vilarpac.org or calling 970-845-8497.
If you go …
What: Las Cafeteras
When: Friday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Vilar Performing Arts Center
More information: Visit vilarpac.org or call 970-845-8497.
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