Latin rock has come a long way from “La Bamba” in 1958. Now we Rock en Español. If you are a certain age, you’ll remember how great it felt to hear people rocking in your own language for the first time. You didn’t have to just lip sync anymore. Now you could sing along because you understood the words, and the words spoke to your own experience.
Rock and Roll is rebellious. Latins don’t rebel against their parents, but Latin rockers rebel against tyrannic governments.
August 2, 2020 ~ The horror of the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1917 birthed the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age. We predict that in 2022, COVID-19 is going to give birth to an explosion of Rock en Español. Vamos a rockear el mundo.
Friday, August 7, 2020 SANTO AMARO, Bahia, Brazil August 7, 1942
Monday, August 9, 2021 CAROLINA DEL PRÍNCIPE, Antioquia, Colombia August 9, 1972
Monday, February 17, 2020 BARBÈS Park Slope, Brooklyn The band led by Venezuelan José Luis Pardo (Los Amigos Invisibles, Los Crema Paraiso) plays their debut album “Psychedelic Disco Cumbia”
Friday, November 8, 2019 PURCHASE, NYC (near White Plains) ~ The Texan brings her Latin folk pop and awesome Austin rock and roll to Purchase College
Thursday, November 15, 2018 ~ Latin Grammys 2018 Univision Song of the Year nominee: “Tu Vida Mi Vida” ~ September 28, 2018 Carnegie Hall
Friday, October 12, 2018 ~ Schimmel Center PACE University Financial District, Manhattan ~ The former Puerto Rican MLB All-Star Yankee center fielder is a great Latin Grammy-nominated jazz and rock musician too.
CUNY Graduate Center Elebash Recital Hall Murray Hill, Manhattan Friday, May 4, 2018
United Palace Washington Heights, Manhattan Saturday, October 21, 2017
SOB’s 204 Varick St Hudson Square / SoHo Saturday, September 2, 2017
Sunday, October 14, 2012 HIGHLINE BALLROOM Chelsea, NYC
Latin Rock Festivals in NYC
LAMC, the Latin Alternative Music Conference is New York City’s big Latin rock festival. Summer festivals like SummerStage, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn and Lincoln Center Out of Doors always include some great Latin rockers.
The Latin Alternative
The story of Latin rock is the story of Latin America finding its own voice. After years of covering or translating European and American bands, Latin America began expressing itself through the Rock Nacional of Argentina and Tropicália of Brazil. For Mexico and the States, it was Mexican American Carlos Santana who rocked the world.
These are some of the highlights of Latin rock.
- Latin Rock begins with Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” (1958)
- Argentine Rock Nacional started with “La Balsa” (1967) by Beatles lookalikes Los Gatos, and music by Almendra and Manal.
- Tropicália with Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil (1968) and Os Mutantes (1968)
- Carlos Santana’s “Evil Ways” (1969)
- Gustavo Santaolalla’s Arco Iris (1969).
- Buenos Aires Rock Festival (1970)
- Latin Alternative of Natalia Lafourcade and many others.
Gustavo Santaolalla was one of the visionaries of Rock Nacional. He later moved to the U.S. where he became the godfather of Rock en Español. His Bajofondo (2002-now) was part of the electronic neotango movement. Santaolalla began producing and scoring soundtracks. He produced “Amores Perros” and “The Motorcycle Diaries.” He later won two Academy Awards for scoring “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005 and “Babel” in 2006.
In the same way that rock became soft rock, Latin rock has become Latin Alternative. Nacional Records in Los Angeles leads this movement. They produce the LAMC, Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York City in the summer.
Rock and Roll is African American. It’s Rebellion is American, but it’s Playfulness is Caribbean
Rock and roll derives from blues, jazz and swing and also gospel, folk and country. Artists like Elvis Presley (That’s All Right, 1954) and Bill Haley cashed in on it (Rock Around the Clock, 1955), but rock ‘n’ roll was created by African American artists playing in juke joints, the roadside dance halls of the American South.
The music was refined by artists like Goree Carter (Rock Awhile, 1949), Ike Turner (Rocket 88, 1951), Chuck Berry (Maybellene, 1955),Little Richard (Long Tall Sally, 1956), and even others who went before them.
Rock and roll’s naughty lyrics, playfulness and willingness to bend the rules are Caribbean culture. When everything is taken away, you still have your body, so you learn to enjoy it a lot. When life is hard, you have to bend the rules to survive. You make fun of everything to keep your head on straight.
Rebelling against the older generation is very American. Latins cherish their families so there is less of that. Rock and roll is American, but its playfulness comes from the Caribbean.