“El Ron Es Mi Medicina” – Johnny Ventura


During my recent trip to Puerto Rico my girl friend was just getting over the flu. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when I felt the early signs of a sore throat and congestion in my ears creeping in on me. That evening I went to the nearest bar and asked for the best rum they had. I was poured a very healthy glass of Trigo Reserva Aneja (a 12 year old aged rum). I’m no expert on rums, but that glass was super smooth and I made sure to take my time with it as it’s borinquen embrace coated my throat and ran down my chest working it’s magic. By the time I was walking back to my hotel room my sore throat and congestion were completely gone! And on that walk back, like the rum, Johnny Ventura‘s blazing rendition of El Ron Es Mi Medicina began to run through me and onto my lips.

El Ron Es Mi Medicina by Johnny Ventura

Ron Es Mi Medicina

I know nasty flu bugs are floating all around us these days so be sure to keep a quality bottle on hand and if you feel the early signs of el gripe try un trago de ron as your first remedy. Salud!


come to the knockout on thursday night!

Friends, I’m bringing a heavy stack of old records to the Knockout on Thursday at 10pm. That’s in the Mission (SF), at 3223 Mission (where Mission and Valencia meet). $3 only.


If you’re into that, here are the facebook pages to this party and to La Pelanga.


You want to hear what Phengren Oswald and Special Lord B. have in store, too –  just look at the poster they put together!

In the meantime I’ll leave you with some vallenato. Espero que le guste a mi compadre César en Istmina!


El Batuqueo by Silvio Brito Con Los Hermanos Meriño

El Batuqueo


Help save KUSF


KUSF in San Francisco, an eclectic community radio station with programming in nine languages, noted jazz and hip-hop shows, has been sold in secret. None of the staff or volunteers informed until the sale was through, and the new owners plan to change the format to classical. While I love classical music, I love community-radio more: those places on the dial where you never know what you’ll find. (Plus the Bay Area already has a good classical station.)

Music director Irwin Smirnoff will be on KQED’s forum this morning at 9am Pactific Time. You can go here to listen live. If you’re free, there’s a rally to block the sale today at 1pm in front of City Hall.

You can sign a petition in support, go here.

– tunda

¡Feliz Navidad!

Since half of you fools keep showing up to our parties at 3:00 am (and hey, ain’t nothin wrong with that) we figure you can’t be mad if our Christmas mix is a little late also. If you haven’t heard  Posoule’s selection of choice jíbaro holiday cuts, go do yourself a favour and check it out here. Funny thing is, we were also getting a mix of Puerto Rican Christmas songs ready for you all. These are from a few years later, when the jibarito moved to the city (maybe to Nueba Yol.)

Yes, yes, it’s the middle of January now, but we wouldn’t want you to have to wait till next December to play these. Enjoy!


La Fiesta De Pilito by El Gran Combo

La Fiesta De Pilito


Zodiac En Navidad by Orquesta Zodiac

Zodiac En Navidad

Parranda Selecta by Orquesta “La Selecta”

Parranda Selecta


Seis Chorreao by Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz

Seis Chorreao


Aires De Navidad by Willie Colón

Pharoah Sanders / Tyrone Washington

We told you we take requests, yes?

I was raving to my student Jose about the incredible stack of jazz (Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp) I got at Groove Yard last week. Jose is a diligent jazzero, surely does his homework more than I do, and he was saying that some of these dudes are not so easy to listen to. Fair enough. He asked for some recommendations, and here’s a couple of things he might like:


Daria by Pharoah Sanders With The Latin Jazz Quintet


Pharoah Sanders playing boogaloo?!

With absolutely no liner notes or list of musicians, and with an alternative cover that suggests he’s going to be a guest musician for ten seconds, I picked this record up a bit skeptically. I’m normally not a big fan of Latin jazz, and I definitely distrust those “so and so goes Latin” records you find all over the place – who doesn’t? But I had to pick this one up, had to be a crazy record.

As it turns out, Pharoah Sanders (and not only him) gets to spit a bit of fire, on top of a pretty tight group that keeps him more organized than usual. Not your typical Latin jazz, for sure, I’m tempted to try this on a dance floor sometime, heheh. There’s not much more I can tell you about this record, it seems to be a kind of a mysterious session, you can read a bit more here.


Natural Essence by Tyrone Washington

Natural Essence

This is a monstrous session led by 23-year old saxophonist Tyrone Washington. I’d never heard of him, and apparently he only released two albums after this one. (His “Do Right” from a few years later is too smooth for my taste.) But this record! You can definitely hear the influence of the soulful, spiritual-search sound of Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, but this is also the sound of a bunch of excited young kids having fun and swinging hella hard!

I’ve gotta thank Chris at Explorist International for recommending this killer album. Noone likes to tell the whole wide world where they buy their records, for obvious reasons. I don’t either. But when a couple of young music and design enthusiasts decide to set up a little neighborhood record store, in the middle of 2010, and when it’s the kind of shop where you walk in, get good, honest advice, and walk out with a pile of records you didn’t know you loved, they have all my support. If you’re in San Francisco, go buy music from them!


Martín Perna introduces the music of Bluefields, Nicaragua

Another guest Pelanga post: this time, it’s our friend Martín Perna, saxophonist, flutist, founder of the afro-beat group Antibalas and most recently, Ocote Soul Sounds. He has recorded and performed with TV on the Radio [you can hear him on this track, one of my favorites from Dear Science], Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, the Roots, Angelique Kidjo, and many other artists. He is a citizen of the world, with family roots throughout the Latin diaspora, but calls Philly his birthplace, Austin his home, and Brooklyn a home away from home. 

Mango Ghost, courtesy of bluefieldsound.com


The music of Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast may or may not be on your radar. After a ten-year civil war that shredded communities and families, and a merciless hurricane in 1988, the coast and the Creole, Miskito, Rama, Sumu, Mayagna, and Spanish-speaking Mestizo inhabitants have seen their share of hardships. Like the ancient caoba trees in the battered plaza of Bluefields, traditions and cultural roots have endured. One of the most enduring of these traditions is the May Pole celebration, a unique hybrid of May month celebrations instilled by the British (who controlled the Atlantic Coast from 1700s- to the early 1900s)  the African roots of the Creole people, and the cultural cross-pollenization created by weekly visits by boats ferrying timber, rubber, gold, and bananas to New Orleans, Galveston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

During the Somoza dictatorship (1930s-1979) members of this older musical generation, in bands such as Barbaros del Ritmo, shuttled around the country performing at nightclubs belonging to the dictator and his extended family. The Somoza family owned mostly everything important, so they were hard to avoid. In 1979, the Sandinistas ousted the Somoza family and began creating a new future for the country, which quickly spiraled into a bloody civil war. During this time, two groups Mancotal (fronted by the Mejia Godoy brothers, the bards of the Sandinista Revolution), and Soul Vibrations (an Atlantic Coast group) were Nicaragua’s musical ambassadors to the world. Snapshots of 80s era Bluefields music can be seen in musician/filmmaker Greg Landau’s documentary “Rock Down Central America.”

At the same time, the effects of the war destabilized the Atlantic Coast and forced many musicians to flee the violence to other countries, such as El Salvador, and Honduras. MC/singer Kali Boom, a child during the war, recounts stories of leading his brothers and sisters to safety in Limon, Costa Rica 50 miles down the coast through swamps and military ambushes, ON FOOT!

The Sandinistas were voted out in the early 1990s, and the Atlantic Coast suffered through 20 years of neoliberal reforms and neglect which made times even harder. During this time, more and more Bluefieleños left the coast, seeking work in Managua, or “shipping out” on First World cruise ships who were eager to snap up English-speaking workers from desperate circumstances. In the words of Dexter “Dex” Joseph, a singer for the Bluefields reggae band Caribbean Blue, working on ship “was like slavery.” Through all this strife, musical traditions survived maintained by neighborhood elders, barrio marching bands, and in the band programs schools such as the Moravian School.

Five years ago, two Americans, multimedia artists Edwin Reed-Sanchez and Zander Scott made their way down to Bluefields and linked up with older musical legends such as Mango Ghost and Sabu the Cat Man to stage a series of concerts, build a functional recording studio, and create the Bluefields School of Music, an institution that will allow local youth to study with the surviving legends of Atlantic Coast. [more info/donations here]

The videos below represent both the traditional May Pole style, as well as newer fusions with electronic pan-Caribbean dance styles like soca, dancehall, and reggaeton favored by younger coast artists like Kali Boom, Kila B, Papa Bantam, Mad Angels, and Lion, and American expat producer Evan Rhodes who is creating a fresh new club sound together with this music.

¡Ya tú sabes!

– Martín Perna


Mango Ghost and the May Pole Legends: Putchie, Claudio Hodgson Weil and Rene Cassells

“Song for Mango Ghost” by Osvaldo Jerez (Los Gregory’s)

Sabu the Cat Man LIVE! at Bluefields Jail