For the fourth annual Musica en la Calle, Hotel Havana will once again turn its parking lot into a mini-music festival over the course of two evenings. Along with artisan vendors and an impressive food and drink menu (provided by Ocho at Hotel Havana), Musica en la Calle 4.0, a sort of tastefully badass capstone to a week of Dia de Los Muertos festivities, boasts an impressive and diverse musical lineup.
Considered as a whole, the six acts that will grace the Musica en la Calle stage represent the union of the future and the past of Mexican-American/Latin-American music. Here's a quick rundown of what each artist brings to the proverbial mesa:
With a punk attitude and a Tex-Mex mood, this San Anto five-piece creates gritty yet harmony-laced alt-country/Americana songs that span the emotive gamut from severe to sappy, from joyful to heartbreaking. In the live setting, the group's often rollicking numbers seethe and lurch with an arresting sonic intensity seldom wielded by folk-based acts. This year, Blackbird Sing released its sophomore effort Cinco
, solidifying the band's status as one of the best, most original acts in town.
Led by bajo sexto master and Flaco Jimenez mentee Max Baca, Los TexManiacs
champion the Tex-Mex groove, as established by acts like The Texas Tornados and The Sir Douglas Quintet. By pulling on elements of jazz and rock 'n' roll, Los TexManiacs give us an updated take on conjunto Tejano music that, like Tejas itself, is as vibrant, unpredictable, and refreshing as a runaway thunderstorm.
The Last Bandoleros
Plying a self-described "new breed of Tex-Mex," The Last Bandoleros
, which features Tejano legend Emilio Navaira's sons Diego and Emilio Jr., brings together Brit-pop, Tex-Mex, country/blues, and rock in its unique music. The band's sophisticated sonic synthesis smacks of the influence of band leaders long-trafficked in disparate pockets of the music world.
While "mojado-punk" might not be the most politically correct term—certainly uncomfortable for a gringo como yo to commit to print—it's an apt descriptor of Piñata Protest's sound
, and one that band leader/accordion punisher Àlvaro Del Norte has frequently used himself to denote the band's furious, border-hopping, sonic fusion. Regardless of the moniker you give it, Piñata Protest's Tex-Mex punk music is defiant and full of movement, rage, and instrumental inventiveness. Plenty of folks have taken note, and the band will play Musica en la Calle a day after playing Sound on Sound Fest and fresh off a largely sold out national tour with Brujeria.
San Anto's Third Root is a dream come true for fans of woke, grassroots hip-hop. One part throwback hip-hop swag, one part Chicanx manifesto, and one part motivational speech por la raza, Third Root, comprised of rappers Mexican StepGrandfather and Easy Lee, and DJ Chicken George, makes hip-hop music that celebrates culture and decries injustice. But, don't get it twisted: these songs are as easy to bump in your ride as they are to get woke to. Need proof? Look no further than the collective's recently released album Libertad
Houston electro-cumbia/nu-cumbia purveyor Gio Chamba
is a force of nature. Combining his guitar playing and vocals with samples and electronic elements, Chamba manages an energetic, wholly new, postmodern take on the familiar cumbia style. Despite the electronica and even hip-hop elements in his music, Chamba's live set feels more organic, and less like a slick tourist trap dance party in Cancún, than you might expect.
Musica en la Calle feat Blackbird Sing, Los Texmaniacs, The Last Bandoleros (Friday), Piñata Protest, Third Root, Gio Chamba (Saturday)
Free, 7:00pm-11:00pm, Fri-Sat, Nov 4-5, Hotel Havana, 1015 Navarro St,
(210) 222-2008, havanasanantonio.com.