It was quite a party at Las Cafeteras Luna Lovers premiere party last week. La Santa Cecilia, Maria del Pilar, Irene Diaz and La Chamba Chicha Cumbia were in the house and big shout out to John Cantú and crew for their work on the gorgeous video and Mucho Musica and Vincent Price Art Musuem for hosting the event open to the community. It was great to see how far Las Cafeteras have come…it reminded me of the reasons I dig them so much, not just as a band but a fine group of decent, hardworking and dedicated people. Enjoy their Luna Lovers video at the end of the list!
10 Reasons why I love Las Cafeteras
1. They were just regular folks, mostly students and community organizers, who befriended each other during free son jarocho classes at Eastside Cafe community center, that 2 of them founded with other activists. With their common passion for son jarocho and community activism, they formed a music group to tell the stories of their communities and spread socially-conscious messages of empowerment.
2. They named themselves Las Cafeteras, after their beloved community center and to this day, they still support the work of the center, from son jarocho lessons to English classes, to enrich the East LA community.
3. They purposely named themselves in the feminine “Las Cafeteras” as a protest against the automatic patriarchy of our society and to show the egalitarian collective spirit of not only their group but their belief in the right to self-governance, self-determination and autonomy in all communities.
4. They were brash enough to put their own updated spin on the traditional folk music of son jarocho, writing their own songs with new lyrics and combining it with hip hop, even free-style rapping. Despite initial criticism from conservative son jarocho groups, they weren’t afraid to defy tradition and make the music more accessible to not only the youth but also to audiences beyond the Latino community.
5. While creating this new fusion of traditional and modern music, they also remind audiences about the African roots of son jarocho, as well as the indigenous Native American elements to their music. Their music embraces cultures and their songs speak to the shared history of roots, bonds and shared struggles between black, brown, indigenous and Asian communities on both sides of the border.
6. Like their rebellious re-do of the classic son jarocho hit “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens, their songs are not only infectiously danceable, but also contain powerful lyrics about important topics affecting our communities like immigration, education, jobs, healthcare and equal rights.
7. They get involved and fight for human rights and dignity.
8. They believe we together as communities can be our own voices and use them to tell our own stories. This is why they’ve produced and funded all their music and videos, including Luna Lovers, their most audacious video yet, all on their own and with the support of others in the community.
9. They shun corporate-sponsored events and any big occasion they’ve had, they want it accessible and all-inclusive of the entire community. Like their Luna Lover premiere party for the community at the Vincent Price Art Museum, they had their album release party at CaminArte, the monthly community art walk in Boyle Heights in Mariachi Plaza.
10. Despite their fast-growing fame, they are still humble, down-to-earth, genuine people who are grateful to their families, friends, fans and their community and at the Luna Lovers party, they stayed until the very end until everyone had a picture with the group. Congratulations, Las Cafeteras, on your beautiful new video, and thank you for continuing to inspire us all!