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:



Orquesta Dicupé / Sabor y Control

We’re beginning to get our crates ready for Friday’s Pelanga at La Peña, which gives us an excuse to get on the computer and send some good music your way.

We’ve already told you plenty about the kind of salsa you are more likely to hear at a Pelanga. (Here it is!) Today I bring you another choice cut from the Orquesta Dicupé, a sick Nuyorican band from the early 70s that should have recorded more than twice! (Apparently, if you’re in NY, you can now hire them to play at your wedding! Do it!) I gotta thank the dealer of pirate cds in San Victorino who turned me onto them.


Inferidious by Orchestra Dicupé


Fans of the rough Nuyorican and Colombian sound like to complain that there are no salsa bands worth listening to since the 70s. We are big fans of that sound, no doubt; but can you really hate on a whole generation of musicians? Here’s Sabor y Control, a crew of savage Peruvians who know how to play that hard (three trombones? check! gangster lyrics? check! a cumbia bridge, for good measure? check!) and they push that sound even further. If you dig “Pharoah Sanders goes Latin“, here’s some saxophone work that might interest you.


Cuchillo En Los Ojos by Sabor Y Control

Cuchillo En Los Ojos

(Sorry for the blurry pictures. Cloudy sky -> cloudy pictures.)


¡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

Me Voy A Puerto Rico


Tickets are in hand, and the bags are packed. I’m off with my girl friend and parents to spend Christmas and New Years in Puerto Rico. With this trip in mind naturally my ears have been tuning to the sounds of musica puertorriquena more and more, specifically christmas music from the pearl island. For most of my life I’ve hated Christmas music. But that was when I thought all Christmas music was either Christmas carols or sappy nostalgia records. I was overjoyed when I finally found Christmas music that was rich with all the ingredients for the pelanga we love to cook up. There is a wealth of Christmas cumbia, merengue and guaracha that goes perfectly with dancing, drinking and lechon. Here are some of my favorite jíbara records that I’ve I packed for the trip.

Fiesta Campesina—El Gran Trio

Fiesta Campesina

Cadenas NavideñasEl Chuito de Bayamon, an absolute legend of the jíbaro tradition and someone who we’ll feature more of soon.

Caneas Navidades

Consejo de NavidadDavilita

Despierta Ciriaco—Machuchal

Gozando la Navidad—Jose Santiago Vega con el Conjunto Los Sureños de Lajas y Coro

Gozando la Navidad

As a little present you can download all these songs plus few more here. ¡Feliz Navidad!

amparito (part 2)


Again, you know the story. Foreigner goes to Colombia, falls for a caleña on the dance floor, she wraps him around her finger and now he wants to go fishing with her.

This is Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz’s savage tribute to Amparo Arrebato, a famous salsa dancer from Cali. Apparently she got a reputation as a teenager by hanging around the brothels of Cali to just dance, because that’s where the really hard salsa was.

Amparo Arrebato by Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz

Amparo Arrebato

Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz guys are legendary in Colombia because they could play as fast and hard as people wanted to dance. (Other people’s records had to be played at 45rpm instead of 33rpm…)