Master Blaster Sound System is a good example of how you get the cumbia bug depending on where you live.
Austin-based guitarist/vocalist Brian Ramos grew up in Laredo, where “cumbia was as ubiquitous as tortillas at every restaurant,” he told the Current. “It was at every shop, on the street and on the radio.”
Corpus Christi-based producer, DJ and sequencer Dusty Olivera grew up on a steady diet of hip-hop and A.B. Quintanilla’s Kumbia Kings.
Monterrey, Mexico-born and Corpus-based bassist/vocalist Cecy Treviño (a former member of all-female cumbia-rock band La Conquista, produced by Selena’s father Abraham Quintanilla) “has been rocking the cumbia since the hipsters were babies,” according to Ramos.
While Ramos and “El Dusty” had already proven themselves as solid producers, the three got together with new, exhilarating results: they do more than cumbia, but when they stick to it they offer rare bass-less portions (as in the first part of the “K le Pasa” single) and touches of Northern Mexico banda horns, among an endless mix of styles. It all works organically, unlike similar attempts meant to blend for the sake of blending.
“Master Blaster Sound System is the result of two producers with a lot of skill, infinite hours in the studio and the tenacity to make a record that took six years,” said Ramos, referring to the band’s upcoming full-length debut (they released an EP in 2010 and are releasing the full-length one single at a time).
“We come to it with an understanding of our musical roots and the rules for making those songs, [but] we took those rules and broke every one of them so that we could create a brand new interpretation of this rural form of music from Colombia.”
But why cumbia?
“You don’t have to know any special dance moves and you don’t need to take up the whole floor doing twirls like some sort of peacock,” said Ramos. “You just keep it close and groove.”
But there’s two Master Blasters: the studio band, and the live one, which is “a completely different animal,” according to Ramos. For the San Antonio show, they’ll have the help of SA’s Maclovio Pérez (from POC Nation, he’s Cecy’s cousin and a superb guitarist in his own right) and Austin’s Jamal Knox on percussion.
“We’re very lucky to have a good group to help translate the crazy studio work for a live audience,” said Ramos. “Cumbia is the people’s music, and we made it from the bottom of our hearts so that we could bring it to the people. We hope they can appreciate and enjoy it every bit as much as we did creating and burying secret messages in it.”
7pm Fri, Nov 1
Pearl Park Amphitheater
100 E Grayson
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