Wednesday, October 29, 2014

At the Movies: Charanga Cakewalk and "El Cine"

The title of today's random tune, El Cine, reminds me that I haven't been to a movie in a while. My wife and I used to go to at least one movie a week, but as our lives have gotten busier our movie watching has gotten more rare. Even with the advent of streaming video, we haven't really made a lot of time to see movies. It's gotten to the point that when Academy Award season rolls around, we usually have only seen one or two of the ten movies nominated for best picture. However, we do try to catch the live action and animated shorts - and I find that I really look forward to those. Just as the short story is an under-appreciated literary art form, the short film is not given its proper due, particularly in the artistry involved to present a full story in 5 to 25 minutes.

I am also woefully ignorant on Latin American cinema, even though I know that there are classic films from those regions. Some of the newer directors I know, such as Alfonso Cuarón, and some of the newer stars. But classic Latin American cinema is something that has eluded me. I am not proud of this - but it only points toward the necessity of me exploring these cultural art forms.

El Cine is by Charanga Cakewalk, which is the brainchild of Michael Ramos, a Latino Chicano Mexican who also describes himself as a citizen of the world. A once sideman and rocker who played with John Mellencamp, Paul Simon, Patty Griffin and others and was a sometime member of the BoDeans and The Rembrandts, he maintained a keen interest in the Latino music of his childhood. Ramos has made Charanga Cakewalk the leading proponent of a style called cumbia lounge. Within his musical landscapes, you might hear tejano, flamenco, merengue, salsa, garage rock, ska and reggaeton. Charanga Cakewalk has released three albums. El Cine is from his 2006 album Chicano Zen.