Pounding Afro-Mexican rhythms, stomping zapateado dancing and uplifting stories of everyday people searching for love and fighting for justice grace Weill Hall at Sonoma State University when Los Angeles world fusion group Las Cafeteras plays a free concert on October 27.
"Musically, I quite like their fusion of Son Jarocho and more modern genres, but I think what I find most compelling is their backstory," says Patricia Kim-Rajal, chair of the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at Sonoma State, which is hosting the concert. "They started out as a community youth project before members decided to use music as a way to spread message of social justice."
Las Cafeteras formed as a band in 2008 with the purpose of documenting the histories of their neighborhoods through music. As musicians, they started as students of the Eastside Café, a Zapatista inspired community space in East Los Angeles where they were influenced by the culture, storytelling and poetic music of Son Jarocho, a traditional music from Veracruz, Mexico.
The concert is free thanks to a Green Music Center integration grant, which brings a cross-section of disciplines into the world-class performing arts center. "Last year we brought two performers to Weill Hall and were gratified to see how many of our partners and collaborators in the community came to support our efforts," says Kim-Rajal. "We really want to make this year's series widely accessible for and appealing to the local community, and particularly the Latino community, who may not often attend events at Weill Hall."
The band's namesake derives from the organization where they took classes, the Eastside Café. Cafeteros literally translates to "coffee makers," and to honor women and challenge masculine language, they feminized their group name by calling themselves, Las Cafeteras, rather than Los Cafeteros.
"We feel that the vibrant sounds and social justice messages in Las Cafeteras' music will appeal to a variety of audiences," says Kim-Rajal.
Their debut studio album, "It's Time," has received great reviews across the country and has featured on BBC, NPR, KCRW & the LA Times. Their remix of folk sounds combines Afro-Caribbean marimbol, hip hop, English and Spanglish, native flute and drums with Jarocho instruments like jarana guitars and donkey jaw-bone.
Las Cafeteras plays in Weill Hall at Sonoma State University's Green Music Center October 27 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, tickets can be acquired at https://tickets.sonoma.edu/gmc/online/seatSelect.asp?BOset::WSmap::seatmap::performance_ids=D5210D62-D01D-4CD4-839A-888F8856E347.