February 2, 2007

Marco Renteria: Musician with local ties establishing himself among legends

By Francisco H. Ciriza

Marco Renteria’s descriptions of his current position are pretty clear: He’s living a dream. The relative new comer to the world of rock en Español holds down the low end, pounding out thumping bass lines in one of Latin music’s all-time biggest band of rockeros , Mexico City’s Jaguares.

Known primarily as the band led by Saul Hernandez, the musical and cultural icon of Mexican rock’s earliest generations and a showcase for his far-reaching mysticism rich and Mexican culture-laced analogies, Jaguares has also been the new home away from home for the young and heavily talented Mexico City native Renteria.

Renteria, who as a child lived for a short time in Chula Vista, took over bass guitar duties after Federico Fong retired from music in order to devote time to his family and business.

This was, after all, the spot once occupied by original bassist and long-time fan favorite, Sabo Romo who played on such Caifanes classics as “La Negra Tomasa,” “La Celula Que Explota,” and “No Dejes Que,” and who returned to the fold rejoining Hernandez in Jagaures for the band’s second album “Bajo El Azul de Tu Misterio” and subsequent tours. Two other accomplished and quite frankly very famous bass players have also occupied the spot to the right of Hernandez on stage: Stuart Hamm and Chucho Merchan. Hernandez himself was the bass player in the early incarnations of Caifanes and has from time to time strapped on the four-stringed axe to record parts for even some of Jagaures most recent productions.

Yet, with class, humility, and loads of skill, Marco Renteria has taken his rightful place among these heavyweights exhibiting a consciousness and understanding of not only the music but of the importance of his position.

“I grew up listening to Caifanes’ first album when I was a kid in Mexico City,” said Renteria from his current home on Los Angeles. “I honestly feel like I’m dreaming when I open my eyes and I see Saul singing and playing. Next to him: Vampiro (guitarist Cesar Lopez, a major star in his own right) and Alfonso (drummer Alfonso Andre, the only drummer ever in both Caifanes and Jaguares) behind me. These guys are all not only legends, but are truly great musicians. It’s a true honor to be in this band,” added Renteria.

Renteria’s intuition allows him to respect the work of his predecessors, while his musical knowledge and finesse-filled touch move him to negotiate the established notes and natural space within Hernandez’s songs in order to establish his own place. It’s a place that is not necessarily an easy one to find.

“Saul is always telling me to put more of myself into the songs, but then I also have to play with Alfonso who is used to hearing certain specifics in the songs.”

Renteria’s impressive pressence is a result of him utilizing the skills he’s honed over the years touring and recording with the likes of such big Latin artists such as Christian and Lila Downs. Renteria also likely owes much to the natural talent he shares with his father, San Diego native, Marco Mendoza, well known for his bass work with such rock outfits as Ted Nugent and Whitesnake as well as his accomplishments in other genres.

“I put all of my effort, experience, and heart into studying, playing, and performing. That is what I offer to the music, fans, and other members of Jaguares.”

Marco Renteria and the rest of Jaguares play tonight, Friday, February 2 at the House of Blues, downtown, 2271 1st Avenue. Tickets are $49-$52. Doors open at 9:30. Call (619) 239-8176 for more information.

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