May 30, 2003

Latino music scene on the rise!

When I was in my late teens, my father would tell me about how time seems to go by more quickly as one gets older. He’d say, before you know it you’ll be eighteen and graduating high school, then college and then it will be career time. Those weren’t his exact words; I couldn’t even begin to approach his genius. At any rate, I remember wondering to myself, “How fast can time go?” “Will things really come up on me that quickly?”

Those conversations seem as if they took place the day before yesterday and now here I am at the mid-point in the year still waiting for 2003’s Latin music scene to get started. It’s difficult to acknowledge an entire six months have gone by since I began the new year with a perspective piece on the scene, if, in fact, it can be called that.

In actuality, quite a bit has taken place since January. A large number of releases by Latino artists have really hit the market. Many reports have the Latino market as not only continuing to grow, but some measure it as the only consumer group that has continued buying during these sluggish economic times. Companies are really starting to pay attention to us. They only want our money, but it’s a start. We’ve got their attention and I doubt we’ll be seeing any maniacal over-zealous shopping mall czar’s calling in the national guard to build large metal fences and set up search lights around the local mall.

Big time music conglomerates such as Universal, Warner, and BMG have really done well by marketing Latino artists to both Latino and non-Latino audiences. In turn, media relations firms are experiencing more and more success procuring media coverage for their artists. One of 2003’s highlights has already been recorded on national television.

Mexico’s Jaguares appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. While the band could easily have taken the opportunity to make themselves appeal to American audiences by showing how they can rock as hard as any English speaking outfit, Saul Hernández and company invited fellow countrymen La Sonora Santanera along for a most impressive and classy performance. The band plans on returning to the studio this fall for an early 2004 release. They are currently touring Europe, the U.S., and Mexico.

Thank goodness we’ve seen less of the poppy stuff and more true artists and creativity.

We need more Alejandro Sanz types and fewer of the less talented, arrogant and aloof type. Sanz is a true gentleman. He’s genuine, humble, and very talented. Look at Tijuana native Frankie J. who was in town this week for some great promotional appearances at his Alma matter, Southwest High School and a local music shop. Keep an eye on him, he seems to have some momentum and backing behind him.

New records out that are interesting include Jumbo’s “Teleparque” which for some reason has not been released in the states. BMG really dropped the ball on the boys from Monterrey. Their manager, Javier Montemayor, is looking for a U.S. release soon on another label. La Ley will be once again providing some new material as well as Café Tacuba. It’s nice to see part of the older guard still standing and delivering.

Locally, we have got to become unified. I can’t tell you how many shows are poorly advertised and thus poorly attended because of the lack of uniform promotion and advertisement throughout the county and Tijuana. There are some great local talents that deserve our support. I was on the phone the other day with a representative of Universal Music and she honestly knew more of the local groups than I did…and I consider myself an insider. I’ve sat and had coffee with the guys in Emaue, I carried the bass player’s equipment to his car. I had San Francisco’s Los Mocossos spend the night at my house after their Café Sevilla gig a couple of years ago. I had lunch with Jagaures a couple of months ago. DGomez of Slowrider has in the past asked me to help the band get a local gig. So, somehow, let’s get this together.

Tizoc Hernández of Agua Dulce has been making huge efforts at helping unify the band. Speaking of which, catch the band locally soon. I just know they bound for bigger and better things!

Here’s my plea! If you’re a local group that hasn’t received coverage here. Write us. If you from somewhere else, write us. Let’s work on really becoming a force…first locally and eventually on a larger scale.

By Francisco H. Ciriza

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