‘Mexican Restaurants and the American Dream’ photo exhibit opens at MACC

Juan Uribe with Fruteria San Sebastian in San Antonio. Photo contributed by Imanol Miranda
Juan Uribe with Fruteria San Sebastian in San Antonio. Photo contributed by Imanol Miranda.

I’m a fried chicken snob, and I blame my parents for that. Growing up, I often hung out after school or on weekends at my parents’ fried chicken restaurants in and around Eagle Pass. At different points over the years, they ran restaurants on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border. Whiffs of grease still take me back to those days of making fried chicken deliveries with my mother out in the Mexican countryside.

I didn’t realize it back then, but I was watching as my immigrant parents achieved their American dream.

For McAllen-based photographer Imanol Miranda, the stories of the people who run Mexican restaurants, food trucks, food stands and taquerias in the United States illuminate a uniquely human side of the nation’s immigration debate.

Miranda traveled across Texas, from the Rio Grande Valley to Plano, capturing the life of these entrepreneurs, each of whom has diverse ideas of what the American Dream means. In Austin, he featured the people behind restaurants such as La Catedral del Marisco Orgullo de Bejucos (The Seafood Cathedral Pride of Bejucos), a reference to a small town in the state of Mexico that has a long history of immigration ties to Austin.

Yolanda Guerrero with Tacos Guerrero in Austin. Photo contributed by Imanol Miranda.
Yolanda Guerrero with Tacos Guerrero in Austin. Photo contributed by Imanol Miranda.

Miranda’s images will be featured in the photography exhibit, “Mexican Restaurants and the American Dream,” in the Community Gallery of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. The opening reception at 7 p.m. Friday will also coincide with the opening of “El Jardín of Earthly Delights,” which highlights paintings by Jaime Arredondo in the Sam Z. Coronado Gallery. Both exhibits run through April 2.

“My family always had family-run businesses including a small grocery shop in Acapulco, Guerrero,” Miranda recently told AP Films. “As a kid I remember delivering sandwiches on foot to our neighbors…” His childhood experiences have not only helped him appreciate small, family-run businesses, but they’ve also inspired him to bring to life the often untold stories of the people who run them.


‘Austin Sonidos’ CD features local Latin alternative bands

Nearly a dozen Austin-based Latin alternative bands contributed to a compilation album that features many of the diverse sounds within the Austin Latin music scene.

For a recent Austin360 story, we chatted with Manny Morales of Austin Vida and Oscar Alarcon of La Vida Buena who made this compilation possible for distribution at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York. Now the two music lovers are planning to infuse a second life into the project and revamp the album, which is not for sale, for a future local release.

Album cover contributed by Austin Vida.
Album cover contributed by Austin Vida.

Featured “Austin Sonidos” artists include: Suns of Orpheus, Boca Abajo, Los Bandidos Cosmicos, Son de Rey, Paula Maya, Huerta Culture, Os Alquimistas ATX, Cinco Doce, El Tule, Los Kurados, La Vida Buena

While we wait for a new version of the album to be produced, listen to a Spotify playlist of some of the featured artists in Austin Vida’s “Austin Sonidos from the Live Music Capital.”

 

Music Monday: The Chamanas ‘Alas de Hielo’

Cultura en Austin wants you to kick off Mondays 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 national and international artists.

Photo contributed by Cookman/ Nacional Records
Photo contributed by Cookman/ Nacional Records

Artist: The Chamanas

Drawing musical influences from 1970s Mexican pop and modern indie music, The Chamanas, call the border region of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez home. They recently captured the national spotlight with their cover of Portugal. The Man’s song “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue.”

The Chamanas are South by Southwest alums, and are also on this year’s SXSW schedule. During an interview with Fusion Magazine, the group credited Austin’s David Garza with motivating the band members to launch the group.

Song: “Alas de Hielo” Album: “Once Once”

The Chamanas released their debut album “Once Once,” last fall and are working with Nacional Records, which boasts a growing list of high-profile Latin alternative artists such as Kinky and Los Amigos Invisibles.

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

Renowned Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso speaks at MLA

Photo contributed by Fernando Young
Photo contributed by Fernando Young

The first time that legendary Brazilian artist Caetano Veloso, a founder of the Tropicália movement, was booed on stage was when he plugged into an electric guitar at a show. The left-wing intellectuals, he says, wouldn’t stand for it. Rock ‘n’ roll music was considered too vulgar. Decades later, Veloso would learn that a similar incident happened to Bob Dylan, an artist who he’s often compared to.

On Saturday afternoon, Veloso captivated Modern Language Association attendees during a standing room-only featured interview at the group’s annual convention at the JW Marriott in Austin.

The celebrated musician, often hailed as one of the world’s greatest songwriters, recounted moments from his storied life from the stigma of rock ‘n’ roll in the early 1960s to his forced exile from Brazil.

During the 1960s, Veloso reimagined popular Brazilian music by experimenting with new sounds and incorporating musical influences from near and far. While he grew up listening to American music like Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald, it wasn’t until 1965 that he fell in love with rock. “I was one of those pretentious people, not interested in rock ‘n’ roll, but then I started listening to rock with different ears.” The Tropicalía movement was born, but its political nature wasn’t tolerated by the oppressive military dictatorship that ruled Brazil at the time.

Veloso, along with fellow Tropicália movement musician Gilberto Gil, was forced into exile in London from 1968–1972. When he met Gil, he said it was like “love at first sight.” Veloso had seen him on television and adored his music, and credits Gil with elevating his musicianship. “I looked at his hands and tried to reproduce what he was doing,” Veloso said.

Their music, though, got them arrested and the two eventually ended up in Portugal, Paris and then London. “We never thought of coming to the U.S. because the country was in turmoil with students protesting the Vietnam War,” he said.  Tensions in Paris at the time were high as well, and Veloso says he had to show his passport at every corner. He followed advice to head to London, where the atmosphere was calmer and the music scene was strong, but Veloso never felt at home.

“I found it dark and gloomy,” he said. “I missed Brazil enormously. I hated that Brazil had become my enemy because it was one of the things that I loved most in my life.” While life in London was miserable at first, he eventually warmed up to the country more by his second year there.

When he returned to Brazil, he had found that his exile had changed him in many ways, but one especially surprising outcome for him was his yearning to be a father. He and his wife had originally planned on not having children.”I have three boys now, and it was because I went back to Brazil.”

Veloso returned to Brazil as a national hero, and he continues to be an influential international figure. In 2003, he wrote his memoir “Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil.”

 

Latin culture highlighted at MLA Austin convention

MLA

The Modern Language Association’s annual convention, which gathers in Austin through Sunday, highlights Latino culture in numerous featured sessions and presentations of academic research. The gathering of more than 7,500 scholars includes more than 800 sessions on language and literature, among other topics.

Latin American writers and musicians such as legendary Brazilian artist Caetano Veloso are among the featured speakers. Presentations focus on everything from the legacy of Gabriel García Márquez to Latino/a comics.

At a Friday afternoon session on Materiality and Mexican Culture, Nicholas Cifuentes-Goodbody of Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar presented the paper “Like a Virgin: Distroller and the Mass Production of the Virgin of Guadalupe,” where he explores the holy image of the Virgin and how its been replicated as well as the role of kitsch and camp objects. He introduced audiences to a popular cartoon version of the Virgen de Guadalupe, called Virgencita Plis.

Other papers featured the poetics of Nahui Lin and the pyramids and stones of late 18th century Mexico. In the paper “Talking Furniture: The Human Science of Psychopedagogy and Hygiene in Postrevolutionary Mexico” by Susan Antebi of the University of Toronto, Antebi looked at the roles of school medical inspectors in the first decades of the 20th century in Mexico who, she says, had the job of simultaneously observing the health of the school children and the conditions of school buildings.

Many MLA sessions are free and open to the public. Here’s a complete list for the rest of the conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legendary Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso to speak in Austin

Musician Caetano Veloso will speak in Austin on Jan. 9.
Photo contributed by Fernando Young

Legendary Brazilian artist Caetano Veloso, hailed as one of the world’s greatest songwriters, is among the featured speakers at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention in Austin, which kicked off on Jan. 7.

Veloso, a founder of the Tropicália movement, will sit down for an in-depth interview with Marjorie Gabrielle Perloff of Stanford University from 3:30-4:45 p.m. on Jan. 9 at the Brazos Room in the JW Marriott. “The Artist as Interpreter: An Interview with Caetano Veloso” is free and open to the public.

During the 1960s, Veloso reimagined popular Brazilian music by experimenting with new sounds and incorporating musical influences from near and far. The Tropicalía movement was born, but its political nature wasn’t tolerated by the oppressive military dictatorship that ruled Brazil at the time.

Veloso, along with fellow Tropicália movement musician Gilberto Gil, was forced into exile in London from 1968–1972. He returned to Brazil after that and has become an influential international figure, earning numerous Latin Grammy and Grammy awards. In 2012, Veloso was the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year.

Check out some of his famous songs:

Music Monday: Carla Morrison’s ‘Un Beso’

Photo contributed by Cosmica Artists
Photo contributed by Cosmica Artists

Cultura en Austin wants you to kick off the first Monday of the year 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: Carla Morrison

Morrison’s melancholy songs and enchanting voice have helped her build a loyal following in the Latin alternative scene. She got her start in 2006, playing in various cover bands in Mexico. She later moved to Phoenix and was part of the popular band “Babaluca.” Despite the band’s success, Morrison moved back to Mexico to pursue a solo career.

The Latin Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter is also part of an important wave of Mexican female Latin alternative/indie artists paving a prominent path for a new generation of Latina artists. She’s taken the stage in Austin before, and hopefully we’ll see her again now that she’s touring in support of her latest album, “Amor Supremo.”

 

Song: “Un Beso” Album: “Amor Supremo”

Morrison has described her latest album as being more emotional and conceptual than her previous work.  The official video for “Un Beso” has received mixed reviews for its avant-garde presentation, which features post-modern dance choreography and a more sensual side of the artist. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny the stop-you-in-your-tracks vocals that have the power to move you no matter what language you speak.

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