Fotos, Música

31, Chicago & Santana

Santana's Greatest Hits #31

For your listening pleasure (via tumblr):

Evil Ways
This was my introduction to Santana.

Samba Pa Ti
One of my favorite concert memories is hearing Carlos Santana play this song. It was new to me way back then (1999), but it felt like I’d known it my whole life. I know that’s cheesy, but it’s true. The song was also a chapter in Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs (in the US it has the much less cool title of Songbook).

Oye Como Va
I didn’t know this was a cover of a Tito Puente song until I took an ethnomusicology class on Latin American and Mexican music.

Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
During my summer of Guitar Hero obsession, I got pretty decent at playing — if you can call it that — “Black Magic Woman.”

Everything’s Coming Our Way
I’ve always loved the optimism of this song.

Fotos, Música

31, Silao, Guanajuato (BJX) & Mariachi Pop

It's only fitting...

I remember taking this photo. It was shortly after my cousins, Juan and Eddie, had dropped me off at the airport after a short visit with them on their ranch outside of Salamanca. My parents stayed in Guanajuato a few more days enjoying a short vacation planned around my cousin Adriana’s quinceañera. I took thee photo August 12, 2007. What a coincidence. I didn’t even plan that when I chose it; I picked it because it’s the only 31 photo I have in Guanajuato, one of my favorite places in the world.


Sean and I went to a free show tonight at downtown’s California Plaza. It was the second Friday in a row when I’ve gone to a Grand Performances show. I’ve been checking out GP shows for several years and enjoy the cool and relaxed atmosphere. Plus, it’s nice that the shows are free.

Tonight’s show featuring Mariachi Rock-O (with Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán) and Mariachi Mystery Tour was great. The former played rock, pop and soul classics with a mariachi twist. The latter, as you may have guessed, played Beatles favorites.

I really enjoyed both bands. Sean and I joked that we’d love to have Mariachi Rock-O play at our wedding, but I think that’s unlikely given that they’re based in Guadalajara. Still, I’m sure our guests would love to hear mariachi-fied versions of Morrissey’s “Everyday is Like Sunday,” Radiohead’s “No Surprises,” Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eye’s Off of You”, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”, Nacha Pop’s “Lucha de Gigantes,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” (okay, a bit melancholy for a wedding), and Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” (it is a Jamexican wedding).

Mariachi Mystery Tour, from Albuquerque, put on a great show too. As I listened to them, I was a little bummed my dad wasn’t there. I know he would’ve loved them. I bought their CD knowing he’d enjoy their versions of “Yesterday” and “In My Life.” He introduced me to Beatles songs when I was still a kid. I remember singing along as he played “Do You Want To Know A Secret” on his guitar at parties or around the campfire. The Beatles are the first English language music I remember being conscious of.

I grew up listening and dancing to a lot of traditional Mexican music. I love the sounds of the violin, guitarrón, vihuela, guitars and trumpets in concert. I’ve always enjoyed the classic mariachi favorites and can sing them at the top of my lungs like a bunch of other poch@s trying to prove their Mexicanness. I knew of mariachi, rancheras and Mexican “regional music” well before I developed a taste for American and English pop music. It’s neat to see mariachis dressed up in their trajes de charro and sombreros combining new and old traditions.

Fotos, Música

31, Camarillo

31 million

I used to join the group lotto pool at work. I knew our chances were slim, but I didn’t want to be the only one not pitching in a dollar. We never won anything and I think the habit died when the person who ran it left after having a baby. So, I’m not filthy rich. I’m not poor either. I’m in a better position than a lot of people.

In these tough times, some songs come to mind:

  • Mayer Hawthorne – Work To Do [listen]
  • Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Money [listen]
  • Jenny and Johnny – Big Wave [listen]
  • Aterciopelados – Don Dinero [listen]
  • The Elected – The Bank and Trust [listen]
  • Rage Against The Machine – Down Rodeo [listen]
Los Angeles, Música

Cheap dates


Every summer I check out the schedule for my favorite concert series and pick out the shows I’d like to attend. Invariably, I don’t make it to half those shows. I get lazy, and don’t feel like packing snacks, chairs or blankets, driving across town, finding free parking, etc. When I don’t let work or other obligations get in the way, I get out and enjoy some free entertainment and a cheap date.

If you need to save your pennies, but don’t want to stay home, you’re in luck, I’ve compiled a list of [mostly] free concert series at local parks and museums. It’s not exhaustive, so feel free to add others in the comments. Check back in a few weeks, some these schedules are not online yet!


En La Noche Summer Series
Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach
The En La Noche series features local DJs. It’s free for museum or KCRW members. If not, it’s $10 admission.

Grand Performances
California Plaza, Downtown LA
The GP series features music, dance, film and shows in the evening as well as noon on Fridays.

Hammer Presents
The Hammer features the Also I Like to Rock and Jazzpop concert series along with speakers and films. Parking at the museum is $3 after 6 pm.

Latin Sounds by LACMA
Hancock Park
I’ve never checked this out because the series is on Saturday and I’m usually busy those days. Maybe this year I’ll get out to Hancock Park.

Levitt Pavilion, MacArthur Park
The Levitt Pavilion series at MacArthur Park and in Pasadena feature concerts Thursday through Sunday. Each night is a different theme (e.g., family/kids night, roots, Latin). There’s really something for everyone.

Levitt Pavilion, Pasadena
I’ve never been out to Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena. It’s far enough (with traffic) that going on a weeknight can be more trouble than it’s worth. However, I don’t want to miss Girl In A Coma on Thursday (June 30th) and Ximena Sariñana with Carla Morrison (July 21st).

Pershing Square Downtown Stage
Downtown LA
[Edit] The schedule was just posted today. 10,000 Maniacs will headline on July 30th. You can also catch some other throwback bands (Flock of Seagulls!).

Saturdays off the 405
The Getty Museum
Getting to the Getty may be a hassle this summer with construction on the 405. However, entrance at the museum is free as are the shows. You just have to pay for parking. It’s still a cheap date.

Summer Sunset Concerts
UCLA Fowler Museum
For the folks on the Westside!

Sunset Concerts
Skirball Center
The Sunset Concert series features music from around the world. I’ve never been to the Skirball Center despite it’s proximity. The Skirball is right off the 405, so make sure to check construction updates on the I-405 twitter page.

Twilight Dance Series
Santa Monica Pier
The Twilight series schedule isn’t online yet, but they usually have a variety of music each Thursday night. Even if you’re not too interested in the music, an evening on the beach with friends, food and drink (hidden, of course) is still a good time.

Historia, Música

This day in Chicana herstory: Selena Quintanilla-Pérez is killed (1995)

March 31, 1995:
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, Tejano music superstar, was killed by Yolanda Saldívar. She was 23 years old.

I wrote about the anniversary of her passing four years ago:

“Did you even know her before she died?”

“No,” I admitted.

He looked at me like I was a fraud. Well, not really. But that’s what I felt like when I admitted my pre-1995 Selena ignorance.

In 1995 I was busy getting through my freshman year of high school. All I listened to was KROQ and was pretty much over the banda craze of the early 1990s. I hardly ever switched the dial to any of LA’s many popular Spanish-language stations.

When my 8-year old neighor, Jorge, came over to our house to tell us the breaking news that Selena had been shot and was dead (or dying, can’t remember), I thought “who?” Jorge saw the look of confusion on my face and told me it was the woman who sang “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” I had some familiarity with the song, but didn’t know anything about the singer. Like many other people, I got to know Selena’s music posthumously and through the Gregory Nava film.

I remember watching the film in Ontario at the movie theater where my cousin worked (he got us in free, one of the perks of being employee of the year). I completely identified with the young Selena Quintanilla. My dad used to teach me Mexican songs. He’d translate the lyrics and explain what the words meant. Danny, my older brother, and I were put in singing contests and often willingly joined our dad when he brought out the guitar.

Go dance a cumbia in her honor. If you don’t have any songs available, check the Bicoastal Mixtape. I’ve posted a couple of her songs. Or watch the movie.