This was a piece that although it wasn’t breaking any new ground, it did rely on the old trick of going with what you know. There’s at least a solid 10mins in this material.
Regional Mex Grind
I was reading a flier for Nahuatl Classes going down in Queens. It reminded me that the regional Mexican music scene is diverse enough to accommodate a group that sings in Mixteca. New York, already a melting pot of cultures, is the melting pot of indigenous languages as well, so says the NYT.
Corridos Found in Translation
So the homeboy Manny Wheels was looking for the transcription to the corrido we used in our previous video together. He’s crafting a long-form report on the corrido situation in Nueva York, look out for that in a few months. I think he can get it up in the Voice, but we’ll see. Biters everywhere. Best of luck to you Mano.
This is probably not that newsworthy to some, but when a group of this stature (like K-Paz de la Sierra, above) comes to Brooklyn, that’s a rare occasion. If you’re looking for something to say about K-Paz, there’s always the story about how their former lead singer was found hanged with cigarette burns on his body. A narco-style kidnaping/murder for sure. Not that Brooklyn or NYC is a stranger to narco-style murders.
As far as “news” this is pushing on two years. So, this post is really just to educate myself. Bear with me. As I’m continuing my focus on regional Mexican music here in N.Y. (which I know is nothing new, it’s just that the live venues and clubs that offer it are multiplying) there are a couple of songs I keep hearing again and again. Club bangers. Dancefloor anthems. You know those songs where your girl is like “Oh, that’s my song!,” and either the entire group of girls starts to dance in a circle, or the girl goes and grabs the nearest dude to get loose with on the floor? Well, these are those songs for folks in cowboy hats and boots.
Ayala Ben-Yehuda wrote about these hits when they started making noise in the U.S. and rising up the Billboard Latin charts in a Feb. 2009 piece “Looney Tunes.” It pointed out how the two groups Hechizeros Band and Banda MS had huge hits that were basically novelty dance tracks. As the writer explains:
The danceable material, besides being easier to promote at some corrido-shy stations in Mexico, is especially popular on the morning radio shows.
El Mechon, by Banda MS, according to the piece is a cover song. It’s spawned hundreds of videos of people’s babies doing the dance. I think this is how the adults get down:
Narco Corridos Uptown
Larry Hernandez at Club Luna in the Bronx last month.
This guy brought his narco corrido flavor to East Coast in late November. I heard this one, from a different group, on Saturday night filming some video footage in Washington Heights with Manny Wheels. It was for our updated digital media piece that I mentioned in a previous post.
We’re looking at narco corridos and their increased presence on the local Mexican off-the-radar dance circuit here in N.Y.
Not to give too much away right now, but the party ended before its expected 3:30 a.m. time, because some knuckleheads sprayed the front of the party location with bullets, hitting one kid in the leg. Someone got jumped and the response was to spray half a block with lead. No one else was hurt.
While a sonidero was playing (they rocked everything at that party from bachatta to ranchera to groupero to tropical), I saw a kid walk up to him and send some shouts to Sureño 13. I don’t know if it was him or his click who participated in the shooting. It really messed up a good night, though. I’m not trying to draw any real parallels between narco corridos and the shooting, although it’s possible gang bangers were at the party to hear some. The fact is that part of Uptown is really hot right now, hot in the sense of crime and gangs and drugs…the stuff of poor not-yet-fully-gentrified areas.
**UPDATE: I just got a call back from one of the security guards who works these types of events (allegedly, the Ecuadorian and Mexican public and private party circuit in N.Y. has a high demand for security). He confirmed that a young guy was shot in the leg Saturday night, and said it stemmed from a beef between local Mexican gangs whose turf is divided along 155th St.
Los Traviesos were set tripping on a guy who rolls with Los Cholos. Neither had anything to do with the party (they like to wait outside for family, friends, rivals or girls I’m told. But maybe they were causing trouble because they couldn’t afford the $6 Modelos, or $5 waters that were being sold. Oops, I forgot to mention the ridiculous markup at this and many local events like this. I have to say I’m a little critical. Just because there’s a monopoly on these “authentic” spaces for Mexican regional music culture in N.Y., promoters don’t have to engañar la gente.
We were all set to check out the Grupo Illegales, which is an outfit that was supposed to play a song called “500 balazos”. Instead we got a hyper-authentic Norteño group called Conjunto Dinamico. Some cats from Chihuahua.
They opened their set with speedy Norteño jams before moving into the narco corridos, which really started to get the dance floor (gym floor!) packed.
Their youtube presence gives you an idea of how they get down:
Though they play a variety of music, they say the narco corridos are a must to please the crowd. Even though this is mostly music that tells stories of drug cartel life, it’s been a boon to the career of newer singers such as Larry Hernandez from Culiacan. One of his earliest albums was explicitly called “16 Narco Corridos”. He was recently in Neuva York. He played club Luna in the Bronx (check out a snippet, here). He puts some pretty revealing things on his Twitter feed:
While doing research for the piece I came across the always pretty grisly Blog del Narco.
If you look in the top, right corner of the site you’ll see a link to youtube video. It’s not a video of chopped-off heads like you’ll find in the blog’s forum, but a group music video. What I know is the future of narco corrido as envisioned in this track “C A R T E L E S U N I D O S”
It’s gangster music, but with accordions and the smell of a promoter who knows violence sells. (Download a mixtape, here)
Larry Hernandez photos via: http://twitpic.com/photos/larryhernandez1
Son of a Pitch
One thing I hate about having a Jersey accent is that when I speak face-to-face with one of the more WASPY-looking editors, and tell them I have a couple pitches to send them, they usually tell me they don’t edit photos.
Mid-Atlantic accents aside, there’s this growing frustration with just getting a pitch accepted by folks up in here. Someone turned up the “son of a pitch” dial on the J school toughness meter or something. The photo above is a show flyer for one of the many, many Mexi-inspired noches de baile, or dance hall events, that are similar to the ones that pop up around the 5 boroughs on a nearly weekly basis. Great story I thought! I’m from Jerz man, I know how “new” this is, compared with L.A. or Arizona. We’ll go to a show or two and knock this out tight little video for DM.
The first in the barrage or questions: How “new” is this scene?
Huh? It’s new to Sally down the street, I’m sure. She follows me on Twitter, she’ll watch the video if it’s good. New?
Little did I know this fuselage was coming:
How many concerts has [been] held? Where? What kinds of crowds? How big?
What are you planning to shoot?
Have you developed a pre-script?
What access do you have to bands, concerts, the venues?
What about the talent?
Hold it, hold it, hold it…..I’m just talking about shooting cats as they pick guitars, sing in Spanish and wear matching uniforms with cowboy boots. What’s really good with the 20 Qs? But they kept coming…
How many clubs host Norteño music?
Are there more than 5 years ago?
Have you done reporting to document this change?
How many bands play in the subway?
Have you asked the MTA how many have permits?
ALRIGHT. I get it. Enough. Back to the grind.