Austin Latino artists explore identity

In our latest installment of Austin Gente, a video/story series that explores Latino identity, we take a closer look at the power music has in shaping identity. We chatted with singer/songwriter Gina Chavez, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Haydn Vitera and Joanna Saucedo of the local son jarocho group Son Armado who all shared just how strong their connection is with música and Latinidad.

Our Austin Gente series published and posted online this Sunday, and there was so much that we couldn’t fit into the piece because the topic sparked such rich conversations. So, below are some additional thoughts from the artists.

Has music helped shape your identity in any way? Let us know in the comments section.

Joanna S
Joanna S

Bonus Austin Gente thoughts:

When Gina Chavez explained to us how the clave (kla-veh) rhythm is the key to all Latin music, it was eye-opening because I had never thought of this concept before. And while Chavez can explain this so much better, basically the rhythm has something that feels like a missing beat. That’s exactly the spot where the music naturally moves you to shake your hips or body. Dancing is such a big part of Latinidad, so to have Chavez break it down was awesome!

It was refreshing to hear that Haydn Vitera, who is biracial, and got his start in country music, says that his experience in the country music scene as someone with Latino roots was very welcoming. “I liked being the Latino in the group,” he said. While he toured with Asleep at the Wheel, Ray Benson encouraged him to do more bilingual music on stage. With that group, he even performed the popular bolero “Historia de un amor.”

Joanna Saucedo had a unique upbringing in the rural community of Adkins, near San Antonio. She remembers picking up some Polish, German and Czech slang in her school, which had a strong community of people who could trace roots back to those regions.

 

 

 

Can’t miss Conjunto Los Pinkys show; Chicano Batman joins Jack White tour

Conjunto Los Pinkys have a residency at the White Horse every Sunday afternoon.
Conjunto Los Pinkys have a residency at the White Horse every Sunday afternoon. Photo by Nancy Flores/Statesman

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, nothing beats a cold beer and good Conjunto music. But where can you find the folkloric squeezebox-heavy music? Austin doesn’t have a full-time designated venue for this, so if there’s an Austin-area Conjunto band you like, it’s best to follow the band instead of the venue.

But for a regular Conjunto show, stop by for a Sunday tardeada (afternoon party) at the White Horse on Comal Street in East Austin. The show brings hipsters, longtime Conjunto fans and everyone in between together for a uniquely Austin experience.

If you’ve never checked out a live Conjunto music show, this is a good one to catch. The popular Sunday White Horse happy hours feature the music of veteran musicians Conjunto Los Pinkys, and start at 5 p.m.

Conjunto Los Pinkys is the subject of a PBS documentary called “Tardeadas,” which documents a week in the life of the band and shows how their music is helping bridge the gap between old East Austin and its new residents. “Tardeadas” is part of KLRU’s Arts in Context documentary series.

Chicano Batman joins Jack White Tour

Chicano Batman  Photo contributed by Chrisko Morales
Chicano Batman
Photo contributed by Chrisko Morales

Chicano Batman exudes coolness. The bilingual quartet draws influences from 1960s Brazilian tropicália music, psychedelic rock and old-school Latin soul. They performed in Austin at the Sahara Lounge in October, and now the LA-based band returns with the sold-out Jack White tour on Jan. 24 and 25.

Austin Gente: How music shapes identity

Growing up in a small town on the Texas border, the biggest radio stations were in our sister city on the Mexican side. So I grew up listening to the latest hits on Mexican radio – from rock en español to Latin pop. Tejano music was at its peak, and just a touch of country music rounded out the soundtrack of my childhood.

Our Austin Gente series, which explores what it means to be Latino in the U.S., releases the latest installment this Sunday. It focuses on how all kinds of music help shape Latino identity.

We chatted with singer/songwriter Gina Chavez, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Haydn Vitera and Joanna Saucedo of the local son jarocho group Son Armado to get their insights on the connection between música and Latinidad.

Haydn Vitera is among the featured artists in Austin360's Austin Gente video/story series.  Photo by Nancy Flores/Statesman
Haydn Vitera is among the featured artists in Austin360’s Austin Gente video/story series. Photo by Nancy Flores/Statesman

“I’m a rocker. I’m Latino. And an American,” Vitera told us during the filming of Austin Gente. “I don’t have to be just one thing.”

Look for it online Sunday at austin360.com/cultura and in the Austin360 arts and entertainment section of the Austin American-Statesman. In the mean time, take a sneak peek at some of the behind-the-scene footage and images we shot when the artists recently dropped by the Statesman studio.

Joanna Saucedo, of Son Armado, dances on the wooden platform, called the tarima,  Photo by Nancy Flores
Joanna Saucedo, of Son Armado, dances on the wooden platform, called the tarima,
Photo by Nancy Flores

Videographers Kelly West, Efren Salinas and I were spoiled with private concerts backstage. I even got to carry Vitera’s famous electric violin the “Viper.”

Cedar Fever was rampant during our filming, and all the artists affected were troopers for fighting through it. We also learned a fun fact – there’s actually a brand for a soothing throat spray called “Entertainer’s Secret.” Who knew.

Many thanks to all three powerful artists who are representing the Latino community in their own unique way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music Monday: Natalia Clavier’s “Nada”

Natalia Clavier 3

Cultura en Austin wants you to kick off the work week in style. We present a new blog feature called Music Monday, where we highlight new or recent Latin alternative music videos from artists who should be on your radar. We’ll showcase Austin-based musicians as well as those who regularly perform in Austin or will soon.

Artist: Natalia Clavier

Song: “Nada” featuring Ticklah

Album: “Lumen”

Many know Argentine singer/songwriter Natalia Clavier as the sultry vocalist for Thievery Corporation, but the versatile artist’s own music brings a sophisticated blend of electronic grooves with eclectic world rhythms. We first caught her live three years ago at the Pachanga Latino Music Festival in Austin, where she joined local Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada for a performance with Echocentrics, their soulful funk project with a psychedelic twist.

Clavier teamed up with Quesada once again when he produced her latest album “Lumen.” Clavier returned to Austin last spring for South by Southwest and chatted with us before her festival performance. Check out our interview with Natalia.

We were happy to learn that Austin has a soft spot in her heart. Clavier experienced her first American gig in Austin, at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2006, when she toured with her compatriot singer/songwriter Federico Aubele. After years of friendship, it was in Austin where a romance sparked between the two, who are now married.