Boogaloo Baby…

I recently heard this LA band, The Boogaloo Assassins, reviving the boogaloo tradition of the 60s and 70s, and I was instantly in love. My mom and dad introduced me to the boogaloo tradition when I was a kid. My mom loved Mongo Santamaria and my dad would always play “El Watusi” by Ray Barretto. When I lived in NYC in the mid-90s, while hip-hop and dancehall was everywhere, there was significant old-school salsa and boogaloo being played in the clubs. Recently, I saw the (great) movie “Chef” and the soundtrack paid homage to this classic music with Pete Rodriguez (below) and Willie Colon among others – definitely check out the movie and the soundtrack.

Wikipedia describes the development of Boogaloo as the following: “In the 1950s and ’60s, African Americans in the United States listened to various styles of music, including jump blues, R&B and doo-wop. Puerto Ricans in New York City shared these tastes, but they also listened to genres like mambo or chachachá and Bossa Nova. There was a mixing of Puerto Ricans, Cubans, African Americans and others in clubs, whose bands tried to find common musical ground. Boogaloo was a result of this search, a marriage of many styles including Cuban son montuno, guaguancó, guajira, guaracha, mambo, and American R&B and soul.”

Enjoy the rootsy sounds of boogaloo! We will start off with the classic party song “I Like It Like That” by Pete Rodriguez:

The inimitable Ray Barretto with “El Watusi”:

Legendary Mongo Santamaria with “Mi Reina Guarija (Bésame Mamá)”:

And here is my personal favorite of all time, “Either You Have It or You Don’t” By Charlie Palmieri (Eddie’s brother):


Public radio inspiration and homage to Bebo Valdes

Hey y’all. Missed ya. I’m still here – listening and digging deep for the best in roots and roots-inspired music. I felt inspired tonight listening to the heart and soul of LA music on public radio. Yesterday a legend of Latin music passed away, Bebo Valdes, and over at KJazz (88.1), they were playing his incredible discography.

LA’s public radio scene is truly too diverse and voluminous to even begin to do it justice (not to mention the amazing radio stations around the country – KUT Austin, WWOZ New Orleans). Later in the evening, I heard ska and old school reggae over at KSPC (88.7) and then over at KCSN (88.5), they were playing some mean-ass classic rock, Derek and the Dominoes and the always welcome Jimi Hendrix. I would be remiss if I did not give a shout to two of my favorite DJ’s in LA including Miss DJ Moonbaby who will be guest DJing next Saturday night/morning (March 31st), Easter morning, at 4 a.m. for Morgan Rhodes’ The Listening Station on the always stellar KPFK (90.7). DJ Moonbaby will be playing some great soul music from 1980 on the show which features “progressive soul and alternative electronica.” I can listen to that for hours. I love me some down-tempo house or Portishead. Also back on KSCN, my friend Kat Griffin hosts Americana Matinee on Sunday mornings from 9-noon as well as an internet radio show on Wednesdays 5-7 pm called Madly Cocktail. Kat’s shows are truly balm for the soul, I promise you. So please head on down left of the dial or if you’re around the world, check out these folks on the radio working hard for your listening pleasure via the magic of the world wide web.

In the meantime, here is the Maestro, may he descanse en paz:

Bio Ritmo: psychedelic salsa dura

All the photos in this blog are by Chris Smith.

Richmond-based salsa band Bio Ritmo has been playing their progressive, original, 70s Puerto Rican-style salsa for over 20 years. The lineup has changed over the years, but one thing has remained the same – true, pushing-the-limits, road-warrior musicians. I first saw this band at an art show in Washington, DC and was instantly a fan.

Marlysse Simmons, the keyboard player and the only female in the band (what a trooper!), eventually became both a good friend and my piano teacher. She was amazing – teaching me theory, music history, son montuno, and bossa nova styles. Keep your eye on Marlysse, because you will be hearing about her. Marlysse has a side project – doing her Brazilian electronica stuff – another love of hers. For now, we’ll focus on the amazing salsa of Bio Ritmo and we’ll check out Marlysse’s alter ego in another post in the near future.

Bio Ritmo is getting some of the recognition they deserve after many years playing festivals and show after show. They consistently put out innovative, original, avant-guarde “indie” salsa. Recently they were featured on PRI’s The World and NPR and other blogs and magazines. Please listen and baile if you feel it and sent this off to your salsa-music-loving friends!

Here they are playing “La Verdad” which features that more edgy contemporary electronic sound.

They can also hang with the classic, straight-up salsa played by legends like La Sonora Ponceña. Here they are playing a festival in France with special guests doing their original song “Tu No Sabes”:

Here’s an interesting video from a song off their latest album. The song is “Majadero”:

You can listen to clips of their entire album of the same title and download the album on their website here.