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Latin Alternative Band Las Cafeteras Takes On Race And Immigration

From left to right, David Flores, Leah Rose Gallegos, Daniel French, Denise Carlos, Hector Flores and Jose Cano are pictured in this undated photo.
Rafa Cardenas
From left to right, David Flores, Leah Rose Gallegos, Daniel French, Denise Carlos, Hector Flores and Jose Cano are pictured in this undated photo.
Latin Alternative Band Las Cafeteras Takes On Race And Immigration
Latin Alternative Band Las Cafeteras Takes On Race And Immigration GUESTS: Daniel French, vocalist, Las Cafeteras Jose Cano, percussionist, Las Cafeteras

Its presidential election year and politics is everywhere on TV and radio, all over social media and for an East LA based Latin alternative hope band cop politics is personal. The band Las Cafeteras blends Afro Mexican rhythms with powerful lyrics. About social justice, race and immigration. And they are come into Escondido -- Escondido. Recently talked to two of the band members. Hello, this is José, I play drums, percussion and a couple of other small information -- instruments. Las Cafeteras started as a group of students taking lessons. At a community center in Northeast Los Angeles called East Café. As years passed it turned into a student group to a performance group. It has been a couple of years in the making top of hence, that is how we started. We actually took the name Las Cafeteras from the Eastside Café. Hey what is up my name is Daniel French, I play the run and icing graft and play keys. It is age string rhythm guitar tuned like a ukulele, and it comes from the Gulf Coast of Mexico from that accrues. -- Crews. One of the names I use to describe our music is urban folk music. Both meaning that it has its roots in traditional forms. And storytelling urban because we are from the city and so our music reflects that. It's like the hip-hop, school be a, Americana stuff. Is in English and Spanish, Spanglish. It really is cool about the group and part what I love about us when we come to write music and working on a new album, we put in whatever we want. There really isn't are we never say no to a style. We take on a lot of topics that sometimes people would say our political. For us, they are really a part of our stories. We are less trying to make political statements and more just telling stories about where we come from, the experiences of our families. And the type of work we have been doing for years now. Some of us have been community organizers and build involved in student organist Inc. -- the experiences of women, the experiences of being an immigrant in this country. Or even that connections that we see between black, brown, Asian, native and other communities. Really is just about how we grew up. For example the song the conversation between a parent and a child, the child is saying please do not go, it is dangerous, people pass away on the way to the North. And that mother or the father saying I am sorry, I love you but I have to go and I have to put food on the table. [ Music ] My great grandparents were born here. But other folks, José's parents and others in the group were born in Mexico. That song is coming out of our band's experiences and parents experience. [ Music ] Do you ever hear from folks that may be hear your music is to political? Yes, that does happen. There has been, I cannot remember, probably better not to mention, a couple of bases have maybe shied away from having this, play as they feel some of our liquor ask our our two have the and political. Lyrics. We get a lot of opportunities to play in places that the message is probably pretty new to most people. But for the most part is well received. One of the sources of writing is called Señor Presidente. We are talking about what we would do would be our president. Think about corruption. And we are super inspired about what is happening here and I do not follow the latest thing that Donald Trump said, we were at a school recently in Lake Tahoe area. And we asked the students what they would do if they were president? And one of the students that if I was president, I would depart, and we were like all here it comes, and I would deport Donald Trump. And the crowd went wild. It is interesting to hear, even though Trump for example, is like a household name, that doesn't always mean that he is respected or his opinion is agreed with. Even if you do agree with Donald Trump, what is important about the music we are writing, we are trying to inspire people to tell their story and do what they are supposed to do it is not about no candidate is going to save us, or make your family better or help you deal with trauma in your life, it is really about each person getting inspired to stand up and make a change. Whatever is on their heart to do. Can you talk about the song Las Cafeteras. La Bamba, is a famous song that everyone has heard. One of our people went to Vietnam and was at karaoke. One of the two songs that they said they wanted to hear was the Bomba. -- La Bamba. [ Music ] People in the and I were bumping it. Vietnam. It comes from this mix of black costs bandage, Arab, West African and indigenous people. And this music also hello Cho. It is us telling our stories through this traditional form to say,. It is our attempt to talk about orders, thoughts on being kids in Southern California. A lot of our family for Mexico. We do not experience the same kind of separation that perhaps other people dream about. We are tied to Mexico. Tied to both sides of the "border. And it talks about, I have a verse that says, a verse about local pride. And I am proud about it. Our families from. [ Music ] Is telling our story. Part of our ma'am -- MO is taking our roots and your culture and talk about what is going on now in your community, and your family through that so it's always relevant. This is José. Another interesting fun fact about the song is it is our version of the lumbar -- La Bamba. He took that song from a traditional, and he made it into a rocking role music and became one of the most popular music songs ever. Our version is more similar to the traditional format. You will get a chance to hear that. The interview produced by our technical person. You get a chance to hear at this Friday at the arts in Escondido. I am Maureen Cavanaugh thank you for listening to KPBS Midday Edition.

Las Cafeteras

When: 7:30 p.m., Feb. 19

Where: California Center for the Arts, Escondido

Cost: $20-$35

It's a presidential election year and politics is everywhere. For a Los Angeles-based Latin alternative band, politics is personal and all over their lyrics.

Las Cafeteras blends Afro-Mexican rhythms with a message of social justice. They tackle issues such as race, immigration and civil rights.

Daniel French and Jose Cano of Las Cafeteras spoke on Tuesday to KPBS Midday Edition about their show Friday in Escondido.

“We take on a lot of topics that some people would say are political, but for us they are part of our stories," French said. "We’re less trying to make political statements and more telling the stories of where we come from and the experiences of our families — the experiences of women, or the experiences of being an immigrant in this country, or even the connections we see between black, brown, Asian, native. Really it’s just about how we grew up."

The band recently put its own spin on a traditional song called "Señor Presidente."

Las Cafeteras Performs "Señor Presidente"

"We were at a school recently in the Lake Tahoe area, and we asked students what they would do if they were president," French said. "And a student said he would deport — wait for it — Donald Trump. The crowd went wild. So it’s interesting to hear, even though Trump, for example, is a household name now, that doesn’t always mean he’s respected. And even if you agree with Donald Trump, I think what’s important about the music we’re writing is we’re just trying to inspire people to tell their story."

French continued with his political analysis: "No candidate is going to save us, or make your family better or help you deal with trauma in your life. It’s really about each person getting inspired to stand up and make a change."

Corrected:
KPBS technical director Emily Jankowski contributed to this report.