Fruko . Tesura, Ayunando

I like the new year’s resolution, Pozole! I’ve also been feeling like it’s time to turn up the heat around here. Luckily Pozole and Smokestack have been doing just that for a while, but it’s time to do my share. Here are two records I’ve been meaning to track down for a couple of years (without paying a fortune for them), and finally got a hold of.

We keep coming back to Fruko; we’re neither the first ones nor the last ones to pay tribute to him. You probably know El Preso. Classic! But the man is behind so much more of our favorite Colombian music (Michi Sarmiento, Corraleros de Majagual, Wganda Kenya, Afrosound, Joe Arroyo, Latin Brothers…) and was pretty fundamental in shaping the sound of Colombian salsa in the 70s: rooted in the cumbia tradition, and incorporating a Nuyorican style horn section, a punk rock attack, and a good dose of flower-powered experimentation.


Fruko y sus Tesos started out heavy with “Tesura”, of which supposedly there are only 400 copies. How’s this for an introduction?

Teso! “Dude is wearing a pistol around his neck, a necktie as a belt, a giant gold medallion on his dog, and ready to throw down with salsa breaks so hard that they’re breaking bottles in the middle of the song.” Pozole, here’s your request:



Three years later, you can see Fruko is feeling pretty happy with himself. He picked up 15-year old Joe Arroyo and kept playing hard:

Fruko – El Ausente

but he got soulful too. If you don’t speak Spanish, you might never guess that now he’s heartbroken, telling the lady who left him how much she will suffer.


Sorry about the back cover, I had to share…

Much more Fruko here, and probably more later on.


¡Fuerza, Joe! (A heartfelt tribute to Joe Arroyo)


Joe Arroyo, one of our musical heroes, is (not for the first time) battling with serious health complications. The Colombian media and the fans, partly out of love and partly out of sensationalism, keep speculating about the nature of his illness and recovery, even (and also not for the first time) declaring him dead.

I was moved by an article talking about how Joe asked his kids to give him strength by staying by his side, and singing to him constantly. I’m thinking we can contribute to the cause, so let me try to get a few of his songs stuck in your head.

El Joe started his musical career as a pre-teen in Cartagena, doubling up as a choirboy in his catholic school by day and a child prodigy in the red light district by night. At age fourteen he dropped out of school to play with Michi Sarmiento (genio!), and La Protesta (genios!). He eventually joined Fruko (genio!) in the early 70s, at age 18 – the band that catapulted him to fame. With them he recorded one of his first compositions, a swinging salsa cumbiambera-rocanrolera for his daughter:

After his huge success with Fruko, Joe Arroyo recorded some killer albums with Los Latin Brothers. Here’s one of DJ Franz Tunda’s favorite tracks:

Finally, in the early 80s, Joe Arroyo formed his own band “La Verdad”, which recorded scorching salsa as well as some of the best executed fusion with Colombian genres like cumbia and mapalé, and Caribbean genres like compas and zouk (somewhat shamelessly rebaptized “Joesón”) A cumbia from his first album:

I’m not sure if they know it, but US salseros are big fans of Joe Arroyo. It seems that every single salsa night in this country will feature his *classic* song “Rebelión” (usually right before Oscar de León’s “Llorarás” and after Fruko’s “El Preso” – where Joe sings backup vocals). I always find it a bit awkward to see American salseros in their fancy outfits and shiny dancing shoes — spinning around like tops, and swinging their arms around like they’re directing traffic — while Joe is telling them about the time that the slave revolted against his Spanish master, screaming at him: “You’re not going to beat up my woman”.

An amazing track, no doubt, but you always hear that one. Instead, from the same album, un Joesón sabroso:

Joe Arroyo became the unrivaled star of the Carnaval de Barranquilla, winning the “Congo de Oro” award six times in a row. Eventually, in 1990, the organizers decided to introduce the “Super Congo de Oro” award just for him, and declare him out of competition, to give other artists a chance to win.

From this era are “En Barranquilla me quedo” (which I wake up to every morning, courtesy of DJ China Tu Madre), “La Noche” (a favorite of reggaetonero Don Omar) and:

The man has no intention to slow down, recording hit after hit and touring all over the world. I just read that, when the doctors get him off the sedatives, his close friends and bandmates Wilson Manyoma, Chelito de Castro, and Juan Piña are plotting to convince him to take it easy and retire. He insists he will die on stage.

¡Mucha fuerza, Joe!

Con inmenso respeto y cariño,



Santa Barbara

So today, December 4, is el dia de Santa Barbara. For those in Cuba who believe in her and Chango (the Orishas deity) today is a day of great celebration and gives myself a wonderful reason to present the amazing Celina González Zamora and her husband Reutilio Domínguez, better known as Celina y Reutilio. Their music represents the Cuban countryside (guajiro) and Cuban gauracha. The first thing you will likely notice about their music is her voice. It’s at the forefront of their music and with good reason. The power, pride and conviction that comes across with every syllable she sings grabs a hold of you and commands total respect. Here is one their of their biggest hits, A Santa Barbara taken from their album from the same name.

A Santa Barbara by Celina Y Reutilio

I have to insist you watch this video of Celina y Reutilio performing A Santa Barbara from a Cuban movie called Rincon Criollo from the 1950s. The sound is extremely low so I recommend playing the audio track at the same time as this video. The reason being is because of the AMAZING dancing that accompanies the music in this scene. Take note this guy is wearing a machete at his waste the entire time AND even does the Michael Jackson toe stand!



For you salsa lovers you likely recognize this song as Celia Cruz had it hit with it, but my favorite salsa version is from the legendary Fruko who did an amazing melody of Celina y Reutilio’s A Santa Barbara, San Lozaro (sometimes refereed to as Babalu) and A La Caridad Del Cobre taken from his album Ayunando. Both these albums are reprinted on CD and I can’t recommend them enough. Enjoy!
– Posoule

Mosaico Santero by Fruko & Sus Tesos

P.S. Thanks to Papicultor for lending me Fruko’s version!



Fruko El Grande!


El Preso

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Colombia All Stars – El Emigrante Latino

Cumbia brava!

Rare footage from an effort to assemble the baddest Colombian salseros in the mid 70s (I’m guessing) in one group: Fruko, Joe Madrid, Joe Arroyo, Piper Pimienta, Saoco, Juan Piña, Jairo Licazale…

They never made it to the recording studio, probably too many superstars in the same group for it to work. (You can see that Joe Arroyo is not too happy just singing backup vocals…)


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