José Santiago Vega

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Here we have 7″ single by José Santiago Vega (Tite) con Los Sureños. Like many artists who played traditional folkloric music his name turns up very little on the internet. For these types of artist, specifically from Puerto Rico who didn’t play Salsa there wasn’t much commercial success for them. But I’m very grateful that these artists keep these musical traditions alive. In this case Plena — a form of music over 100 years old and like other traditional caribbean music played the role of caring news from town to town. The music is lead by the Pandero (a tambourine-like percussion instrument) accompanied by a guiro, a conga drum, a cuarto guitar  and sometimes like on this record an accordion. For me the accordion adds a whole other dimension that brings out the melody to it’s fullness.

On Side A we have the song El Mosquito which features someone ripping it up on the accordion.

El Mosquito

Side B is the song No Me Hables Estrujao

No Me Hables Estrujao

Maybe this is just me, but I often have thought that if someone added electric guitars and a drum kit to Plena and put more political lyrics to the same melodies you’d have incredible punk music. Nonetheless, I love traditional Plena and will do my part to continue to give these artists the shine they deserve.

Mon Rivera

I was superhappy to finally find this record at a reasonable price in Puerto Rico last month! Mon Rivera’s monster track Lluvia con Nieve has always been a Pelanga favorite – from Eddie Palmieri’s badass piano intro, to the horn section consisting of a trombone, a trombone, and a trombone, to the eloquent lyrics on the boricua experience in Nuebayol (“Lluvia con nieve, lluvia con nieve, lluvia, nieve, lluvia con nieve”.) If you like the hard-hitting, trombone-heavy sound of the salsa orchestras of the 70s, say thank you to Mon Rivera y su Orquesta – they were doing this in 1963, you understand?


This is an incredible album, where he is really pushing the possibilities of the plena and of Puerto Rican music in general. I can’t recommend it enough. I had a really hard time choosing what song to post, but the chorus of this song has been stuck in my head for a couple of weeks, so that’s a good sign. (It’s also the scratchiest one on the record, sorry ’bout that! That is how it is.)

Monina by Mon Rivera


I’ve also gotta show you what he was doing with the plena:
Qué Gente Averiguá by Mon Rivera

Qué Gente Averiguá

In case you don’t know what a plena is (or if you do), I’ll let him explain: