Real talk, how many of your favorite groups perform songs about the day-to-day stories and struggles that you and everyday working people in our communities face? Sadly, there are far too few. That’s why two of the most beloved groups to come out of the Bay Area in recent years are Mass Bass and BRWN BFLO. If you have heard their banging music then you know how uplifting it is to have these artists represent our neighborhoods and homelands. If you haven’t yet, take a listen:
On Friday, March 4 La Pelanga proudly welcomes Mass Bass and Somos One from BRWN BFLO to The Brick and Mortar Music Hall. Advance tickets only $12!!!
A not-to-miss show that will feature Somos One’s new EP Two Vagos w/ special guests, Mass Bass’ Movement Movin‘ music and La Pelanga’s global dance floor records.
Our favorite brown knights, Chicano Batman are coming back to the Bay on Friday, May 15 in San Francisco at The Brick and Motor and then the following night, May 16 in Oakland at Leo’s Music Club. La Pelanga will be teaming up with them for both shows along with Thee Commons for two nights of connecting past with present and soul to somos. In other words—you best be ready to rock out and dance.
Be warned, every show they have had in the Bay has sold out. There’s nothing we’ve hated more than having to turn beautiful gente away. Get your tickets now while they are still available!
This past Saturday was filled with lots of excitement—those of you who were waving Mexican flags up and down Mission Street in San Francisco or partying in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena know what I’m talking about. After the final, a portion of La Pelanga crew carried on the great night with Joe Bataan, the king of Latin soul who performed at Yoshi’s SF.
Best known for his anthem Ordinary Guy, Joe Bataan is by all means a man of the people. Each time I’ve seen him he is more than happy to greet you before and after his shows, take pictures and sign records. In fact on this particular trip out to San Francisco he did separate meet and greets at the Bayanihan Community Center (Filipino community center in S.F.) and Milk bar. Even in his senior years the man still has juice, which is no surprise considering he once was a leader of a Puerto Rican gang in East Harlem—and he’s not even Puerto Rican. He had the half Latino, half Filipino crowd up on their feet dancing and soul clapping the whole night. His success of merging of R&B with Boogaloo, Mambo and Salsa in my opinion would never be possible without his voice. At first listen it sounds flat, somewhat scratchy and well ordinary, but if you continue to listen you’ll find his voice is one of kind. It’s full of that down to earth soul, that just sinks into you and comforts you like smelling your mom’s favorite dish. One of the early songs he performed was Ordinary Guy-Afro Filipino, (his 3rd version of Ordinary Guy) and you’ll get just what I mean from the opening “Ahhhh….”.
His music was always progressing and breaking new ground starting with boogaloo in the 1960s and going all the way to disco-hip hop (it’s argued that he wrote the very first rap song, Rap-O-Clapo). But it’s really his classic ballads that those out here on the West Coast latched onto. What some call oldies, his ballads are still played out of every classic Impala and essential to any good low-rider mix-tape. Personally for me, this music strikes a deep chord. Songs like I Wish You Love from Saint Latin’s Day Massacre, which he also performed, fall into that special category for my sweetie and I. We’re not alone of course. His music has played at countless weddings, (I’m sure our fellow pelanguero, DJ Smokestack will have Joe Bataan playing at his wedding next Saturday), and it will definitely be playing at mine one day.
The one unfortunate thing about seeing Joe Bataan now is that he no longer performs with the same incredible Puerto Rican bands that he did from his days on the Fania label. It was common with these Latin Soul records to have songs both in English and Spanish which helped create appeal to a wider audience. Though Joe Bataan would occasionally sing in Spanish he would also have guest salseros or members of his band handle Spanish vocals. For example on this same Saint Latin’s Day Massacre album we get an incredible bailable like Charangaringa. Sadly it’s these songs that we no longer get to hear live, but to be honest I wasn’t disappointed. The man is still extra-ordinary.
Another reason to love living in the San Francisco Bay Area: Stepping into a taxi on a warm, lazy Sunday morning (in December – hello, Boston!) and being greeted by the music of the Doctor of Hypertension, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe. (Thank you for that, Okei!!)
If the Chief feels he needs 19 minutes to tell you what he’d like to tell you, we’re not gonna be the ones to stop him.
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.
In my mind, the beauty of the San Francisco Carnaval is the opportunity to see how all these different people in the Bay Area get down: not just the Brazilians and the Trinis, but also the Salvadoreans, Filipinos, Mexicans, Panamanians, Chinese, Guatemalans, Belizeans, Hawaiians, Bolivians, drag queens, Asian sambaheads, modern-day urban pirates (?!?!)… and best of all, the little Mission kids, who are all of the above. It might not be the wildest of carnavals, but it’ll teach you something for sure.
So it was in the SF Carnaval that I first heard, and was floored by a local Nicaraguan group playing palo de mayo. Since then, most of the Nicaraguans I’ve asked about it discarded this as “musica de negros”. Which is always a good sign.