Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Little Local Cred: Sol y Canto and "Como Volar"

Como Volar by Sol y Canto on Grooveshark

New Orleans is the only city that I've lived in that I can truly say was a music hotbed. Of course I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for a little while during college, and there was a lot of music that came out of San Francisco and Oakland, especially as rap and hip hop became big. Milwaukee was known for some interesting music, but certainly wasn't a hotbed in terms of huge acts known on a national stage (except for maybe The Violent Femmes). San Antonio had some good music, with some Texas singer-songwriters and Tejano musicians, who lived in the area but many of them were known in the way that a lot of the indie music folks were known. But New Orleans took its music seriously, and many of its musicians were superstars in New Orleans, and highly regarded everywhere else in the country. Part of it was New Orleans' status as the place where jazz was invented, and part of it was its contributions to everything from jazz to R&B to rock. One could just go out for an evening of music in New Orleans and know that history was being kept alive in the music.

Now I live in New Mexico, whose contributions to music are less august. A look at Wikipedia's List of People from New Mexico reveals only nine entries under music (one of which is John Denver and another is Jim Morrison). A notable omission from the list is The Shins, who were from Albuquerque and had some hits in the early 2000's. Another omission is Bo Diddley, who was a deputy sheriff in Los Lunas, New Mexico and spent the last years of his life between Albuquerque and Archer, Florida. But the fact that even many New Mexico residents don't know some of these facts goes to show that music is not a major industry in this state. Most of the music I listen to comes from outside the state and except for a killer world music festival, I don't find myself going out to seek local music too much. Perhaps that is a fault of mine, but that's been my reality. There are some good bands here, such as Wagogo, Mala Maña and the Red Light Cameras that I enjoy when I hear them, but music doesn't seem to be the driving force here that it was in New Orleans.

So it feels like a pleasure that I get to highlight a world music (Latin) band with a New Mexican connection on this blog. Sol y Canto is a pan-Latin group led by Puerto Rican-Argentine singer and bongo player Rosi Amador and New Mexican guitarist and composer Brian Amador. The group includes musicians from Uruguay, Panama, Peru and Argentina. Formed in 1994, the band delivers unique compositions and sometimes quirky interpretations of Latin music. They have won a "Best of Boston" music award, and Brian Amador was the first Latino to be chosen by Boston's Celebrity Series to compose a Latin orchestral suite. The band seeks to connect Hispanic and non-Hispanic audiences in music, poetry, humor and playfulness. This song, Como Volar, is from their 2008 CD Cada Día un Regalo.