Cuban hip-hop duo Krudas Cubensi featured on KLRU documentary

Krudas Cubensi, a female hip-hop duo, will be featured in an upcoming documentary on Austin PBS station KLRU-TV.
Krudas Cubensi, a female hip-hop duo, will be featured in an upcoming documentary on Austin PBS station KLRU-TV.

When Cuban hip-hop duo Krudas Cubensi stormed the underground rap scene on the island in the late 1990s, they stunned crowds with their lyrical explosions about feminism, race and veganism, tackling taboo subjects at the time that made unsuspecting crowds squirm.

With their poetic truths, MCs Olivia Prendes and Odaymara Cuesta launched their musical mission for social justice despite the obstacles they faced not only as female rappers but as openly lesbian women shaking up societal norms.
Krudas Cubensi have now made Austin their home, and are the subjects of an upcoming “Arts in Context” documentary premiering on Austin PBS station KLRU-TV at 7:30 p.m. June 25. “Somos Krudas” will also be available to watch online for free starting June 26 on klru.org.

I met Prendes and Cuesta a few years ago, and remember thinking, when hearing them speak in their native tongue, that even their conversations flowed like rhymes. They’re natural poetic orators.

During an interview with them in 2012, we chatted about their decision to leave Cuba for Austin.“We became aware of the strong international Latina, feminist, queer and vegan movements” outside of Cuba, Prendes said during that interview. “So many things going on in the world, and it was as if we were locked up. Forget it. We knew we were ready for the world, and so we took that step toward change.”

Krudas Cubensi’s latest album “Poderosxs” (Powerful), which is available on cdbaby.com, was released in 2014 and brings spitfire lyrics that are unapologetic, refreshingly open and uninhibited.

Keep up with Krudas Cubensi at facebook.com/KrudasCubensi. Catch their next Austin performance at the Sahara Lounge’s Cuban Festival on Aug. 2 starting at noon-10 p.m.

Music Monday: Julieta Venegas’ ‘Ese Camino’

Julieta Venegas

Cultura en Austin wants you to kick off the work week in style. We present a 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 have performed in Austin or will soon.

Artist: Julieta Venegas

Mexican pop-rocker Julieta Venegas has been rocking her accordion, guitar and piano since the mid-1990s. She performed in Austin in 2014 at the Pachanga Latino Music Festival. Check out an Austin360 interview with Venegas.

Song: “Ese Camino” Album: “Algo Sucede”

Venegas will release her latest album “Algo Sucede” on Aug. 14, but Venegas fans can already listen to and check out the music video for the album’s single “Ese Camino,”  which was inspired by Venegas’ personal childhood as well as the overall importance of childhood.

Behind the scenes shot for "Ese Camino" video.
Behind the scenes shot for “Ese Camino” video.

Latin Grammy-nominated director Claudio Divella shot the video and aimed to “evoke childhood, the passing of time, games our memory plays in general and how they become blurry and questionable in a symbolic way, by presenting two parallel stories that unfold in one and the same place,” according to a news release.

Check out the music video below, and let us know what you think in the comments section.

If you’re a Austin-based Latin music band and are releasing a new video, let me know at nflores@statesman.com.

 

 

El Tule celebrates ‘Cuatro’ album release

El Tule
El Tule

Austin’s El Tule has been making crowds move since 2005 with its infectious music and danceable beats.

After dedicating two years to recording, El Tule has released its fourth independently-released album “Cuatro,” which fuses Latin rhythms with everything from funk to psychedelic grooves. Perhaps one of the album’s catchiest tunes “Pulga 290” will bring a smile to Austinites who recognize the song as an homage to the flea market on Highway 290.

El Tule collaborated with the newly-launched Hecho in Austin Records for “Cuatro,” which the band says is a natural evolution since the label “consistently (tries) new styles and platforms to reach Latin music lovers,” according to the band.

Join the album release party on June 19 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Central Market on North Lamar Boulevard or on June 20 at 9 p.m. at One-2-One Bar on South Lamar Boulevard.

 

Music Monday: Macaco’s ‘Volar’

Spanish star Macaco performed during SXSW and has released a new music video.
Spanish star Macaco performed during SXSW and has released a new music video.

Cultura en Austin wants you to kick off the work week in style. We present a 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 have performed in Austin or will soon.

Artist: Macaco

International pop sensation Dani Carbonell, better known as Macaco, performed in Austin this spring during South by Southwest as a featured artist with the Sounds of Spain showcase.

Song: “Volar” Album: “Historias Tattooadas”

Macaco released his latest album “Historias Tattooadas” in March, which includes the second single of the album “Volar.”

Macaco has described “Volar” as “a love song with a bittersweet touch.” Check out the music video, which tells the story of a boy on a family camping trip who becomes infatuated with a young woman working at the campsite. “Volar” touches on the ways people romanticize relationships and the challenges that keep people apart.

If you’re a Austin-based Latin music band and are releasing a new video, let me know at nflores@statesman.com.

Teatro Vivo, Aztlan Dance Company offer top weekend events

Teatro Vivo's "El Nogalar" runs June 4-20. Photo contributed by Alberto Jimenez
Teatro Vivo’s “El Nogalar” runs June 4-20. Photo contributed by Alberto Jimenez

Among the Latino cultural art happenings this weekend are two unique theater and dance offerings. Both Teatro Vivo’s latest production “El Nogalar” and the Aztlan Dance Company’s “Itzpapalotl: Obsidian Butterfly” were among American-Statesman’s art critic Jeanne Claire van Ryzin’s weekend art picks.

“El Nogalar.” Teatro Vivo stages Tanya Saracho’s critically acclaimed modern bilingual adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.” On a beautiful but fading ranch in northern Mexico, the upper-middle-class Galvan family struggles to hold on to their generations-old pecan orchards as well as their social status as both land in the crosshairs of the contemporary drug cartel violence. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. June 7 and 14, through June 20. Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St. $14-$20. 512-474-6379, teatrovivoatx.wordpress.com. —Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

 

“Itzpapalotl: Obsidian Butterfly.” Aztlan Dance Company brings its fusion of contemporary dance and ballet folklorico flare to an original show about a young girl whose encounter with the magic Aztec butterfly goddess, Itzpapalotl, leads her on a journey that reveals the wonderful secrets of life. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. June 7. Santa Cruz Center for Culture, 1805 E. Seventh St. $12-$15. 512-762-7000, http://www.aztlandance.com. —Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Check out other top weekend picks on The Planner.

 

Celebrate June, Brazilian style

Fans dance along to the music on Brazilian Samba Funk night at the Sahara Lounge on June 2014.  Photo by Martin Do Nascimento
Fans dance along to the music on Brazilian Samba Funk night at the Sahara Lounge on June 2014. Photo by Martin Do Nascimento

In my latest Cultura en Austin column, which highlights upcoming Latino cultural art happenings, I highlighted several must-see events including some of the month-long festivities celebrating Brazilian culture.

In Brazil, the month of June means honoring various saints with food, music and dancing. On June 6, celebrations kick off here in Austin at Esquina Tango at 9 p.m. Local forró band Seu Jacinto, which plays traditional Northeastern Brazilian music, will lead a mini forró class at 9:30 p.m. DJ Pererê will also play on breaks.

The BYOB party costs $8, and costumes are encouraged. Brazilian street food truck, Boteco will also be on site. For more information, visit esquinatangoaustin.com.

Celebrations continue this summer at the Brasil Grooves Summer Series, which starts June 20 at the Spider House Ballroom. Featured bands include psychedelic pop band Suns of Orpheus and Brazillian pop/rock band Fusca XR3. The showcases, presented by Austin Vida and Austin Brazil, will be at 9 p.m. every third Saturday from June-August.  Cover is $10.

Check out the full Cultura en Austin column for more cool June events here.

 

 

How mariachi music fits into Austin’s music culture

Mariachi master Zeke Castro helped launch the first mariachi music program in Austin.  Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Mariachi master Zeke Castro helped launch the first mariachi music program in Austin.
Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Austin considers itself the Live Music Capital of the World. So, how does mariachi music fit into the city’s vibrant musical culture?

In my latest story, ‘El Rey’ of mariachi music, I talk to a music educator who helped propel the genre forward in the Texas capital. Ezekiel “Zeke” Castro launched Austin Independent School District’s first mariachi program in 1980, and since then has inspired generations of students.

Castro, 75, now directs the University of Texas’ Mariachi Paredes de Tejastitlán and also runs the summer UT Longhorn Mariachi Camp for high school students.

Aside from sparking a love for music, mariachi programs in schools have also helped many students think about pursuing higher education. For Beto Mesta, one of Castro’s former mariachi students from Del Valle High School in El Paso, running into Castro years later at UT was one of his proudest moments. Mesta shared his experience in an email after reading the story.

“I was a law student at the University of Texas School of Law. I ventured onto the main campus and saw a familiar figure walking towards me. I hadn’t seen him since a UIL competition (that) the mariachi competed in at UT a few weeks after my high school graduation. That trip was important since it exposed me to UT.  I resolved to become a student there.  It didn’t occur as an undergraduate, but did as a law student.  Mr. Castro exposed me to a greater world and I will be forever appreciative.”

Mesta is now a managing attorney for the El Paso Office of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.

Check out a snippet of my conversation with Castro below, where he shares a funny story about how he was drafted to play his first mariachi gig after only learning two songs. Read the full story here.

Music Monday: Bomba Estéreo’s “Fiesta”

Bomba Estéreo will perform at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Bomba Estéreo will perform at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

 

Cultura en Austin wants you to kick off the work week in style. We present a 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: Bomba Estéreo

The Colombian electro fusion group, Bomba Estéreo, is part of this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest lineup. The Austin music festival, which takes place at Auditorium Shores on Nov 6-8, will bring many acts like D’Angelo and Wu-Tang Clan for its 10th anniversary. Check out the rest of the lineup here.

Song: “Fiesta” Album: “Amanecer”

Bomba Estéreo will release its new album “Amanecer” this week, which includes the Carnaval de Barranquilla-inspired psychedelic song “Fiesta.” Check out the recently released trippy video.

If you’re a Austin-based Latin music band and are releasing a new video, let me know at nflores@statesman.com.