It’s the second week of Hispanic Heritage Month, so it’s time to kick the party into high gear with some truly celebratory music. Music journalist Sandra Treviño says one of the best ways she knows to get people on the dance floor is with the sounds of cumbia.
“Cumbia has its roots in Colombia, on the coast, and is influenced by indigenous, African, and Spanish dance rhythms. It’s heavy on percussion, which is contagious, and you’ll also hear the accordion, some wind instruments, keys, and tamboras,” Treviño said.
Treviño recommends a few songs to get a feel for cumbia old and new.
Los Golden Boys, “Cumbia de Juventud”
SANDRA SAYS: In the 60s, in Medellin, there was a group — Los Golden Boys — who were combining tropical music with pop, rock — like the twist — along with other tropical styles and they became very popular. More recently, Brooklyn-based label Mississippi Records re-released Los Golden Boys music through a pressing on vinyl in Chicago at Smashed Plastic. The album is “Cumbia de Juventud.” It’s 12 tracks and it was cool to find out that instead of using a traditional Gaita flute, the group used a Solovox electric keyboard.
Bomba Estereo feat. Kevin Floréz, The Busy Twist, “Romántica Champeta”
SANDRA SAYS: Today, Bomba Estereo comes to mind as a band that encompasses the past with the present. They are from Bogota, led by Simon Mejia and Liliana Saumet, and they’ve been successfully creating cool electronic-based reinterpretations of traditional tropical music. They incorporate pop, rock, reggae, and of course champeta. Their most recent single is ROMANTICA CHAMPETA featuring Kevin Floréz and The Busy Twist.
Los Mirlos, “La Danza de los Mirlos”
SANDRA SAYS: Let’s look at the psychedelic side of cumbia … [Los Mirlos’] surf guitar vibes make me think of groups like Juaneco y Su Combo and Los Destellos. And, they were actually in Chicago and performed at Lollapalooza in 2018.
Money Chicha feat. Jose Luis Carballo, “Desesperado”
SANDRA SAYS: [Money Chicha] recently collaborated with the guitar master of La Nueva Crema, Jose Luis Carballo, and their iconic style of music known as chicha which combines huayno with hippie rock influences.
Cabeza de Chivo, “Drive”
SANDRA SAYS: Cabeza de Chivo blends traditional rhythms from across Latin America including cumbia, merengue, rocksteady, reggae and a little ska. Members rep Ecuador, Venezuela and Mexico.