The best Mexican-American rock group since Los Lobos brings their magic to Lincoln Center
As La Santa Cecilia proved on the Upper West Side last night, there isn’t a better time than the present to reintroduce yourself to the amazing legacy of Mexican-American rock bands who’ve helped define the robust yet underrated “Chicano rock” movement, especially when the scene is bursting with new talent.
Now listen, it don’t matter to me where you start digging: mid-70s Santana and modern greats Zoé are equally intriguing on either end of this seemingly infinite spectrum of Latino sounds. But if you wanna take it from me, head right to the Slash Records catalog of Los Lobos (especially 1984’s How Will The Wolf Survive and their 1992 masterpiece Kiko). It is within that essential cache of records from where you will find all the reason to anticipate La Santa Cecilia’s return to New York, kicking off their current tour last night with a free concert as part of Lincoln Center’s always-excellent Out The Doors summer concert series.
The band–comprised of accordionist and requinto player Jose “Pepe” Carlos, bassist Alex Bendaña, percussionist, Miguel “Oso” Ramirez, and singer La Marisoul –might have been the opening act for a screening of Disney’s Coco. but make no mistake–once this group stepped on stage they ran the place. And for those of us waiting until this fall for the release of their eponymous new album on Rebeleon Entertainment / Universal, the quartet ensured the crowd they didn’t have to wait until October 11th to experience the joyous sounds this new record, produced by five-time GRAMMY and 12-time Latin GRAMMY winner Sebastian Krys, who most recently helmed the RNR Globe’s Best Album of 2018 in Elvis Costello & The Imposter’s Look Now. In fact, the band has collaborated with EC as well, not to mention John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin.
On the concert stage, La Marisoul proved why she stole the show at last year’s “Joni Mitchell at 75” concert gala as she and her bandmates delivered powerful renditions of such upcoming new album tracks as the hip-hop spiced “A Thousand Times,” a faithful version of Bessie Smith’s “Nobody Knows You When You Are Down and Out” and La Santa Cecilia’s lead single “Winning,” a warning shot about the fickle nature of online social outrage. The way this group brings together their own familial origins in Mexican, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan heritages sonically unites all three Americas and then melts them together with this hip-hop/reggae/bossa-nova type flavor that will undoubtedly help them continue their ascent to stardom as they head back to Los Angeles to play the famed Hollywood Bowl in August
NPR Music’s World Cafe lauded: “La Santa Cecilia’s upcoming album seems to be a turning point in the band’s musical career: The members pave the way with a genuine, personal and ingenious approach to making music, despite life wreaking havoc.”
The band will be hitting the road around the new album, beginning with a Lincoln Center Out of Doors date on July 25th, their biggest NYC show yet, and a Hollywood Bowl show in August. And come 2020, don’t be surprised to see La Santa Cecilia win their second Grammy for “Best Latin Rock Album,” the first of which they scored in 2013 for their album Treinta Días.
For more information on this group, visit them at lasantacecilia.com.
VIDEO: La Santa Cecilia “Winning”