Local ‘sugar daddies’ fire up the dance crowd at LaSalles
I haven’t learned any new Latin dance moves since the macarena came and went, but I couldn’t resist faking it when Los Papi Chulos played at LaSalles last Friday night.
My three amigos and I crashed the Latin Dance Party, planning to hang out in the back with our drinks and watch from a distance. It seems a lot of people have taken advantage of the myriad salsa lessons offered at local bars and restaurants these days—thanks in no small part to the Latin fever sweeping the country (even Chico) in the last few years. As soon as the band started playing, people began spinning and shaking their bonbons to la música de Los Papi.
Ironically, the band consists mostly of non-Latino members, but you wouldn’t know it from the sound. Founding member and horn player Jeff Daub says they came together as a group of friends interested in Latin music and gained other members by word-of-mouth. Incidentally, Los Papi are searching for a “mami"; they want a good female vocalist to spice up the mix.
“I’ve always been interested in Latin music,” says Daub, who performs on the local music scene with a few other bands, including Spark ‘N’ Cinder. “I’ve spent about 12 months in Colombia during the last seven years.” Lead vocalist Raimundo Jiménez has also studied the genre for quite some time, and it shows.
The band plays more than just salsa. They love to play “cumbias,” traditional Colombian rhythms that are slightly slower-paced. They also cover Cubanisimo and merengue tunes, as well. The band has replaced a few members since its inception two years ago, and the current incarnation is an eight-piece instrumental boasting a full horn section and impressive percussion featuring timbales, the cornerstone of the Latin beat. Singers also cover maraca and guiro parts when necessary.
By the third song, “Sabor,” my compadres and I could no longer resist the infectious tempo and hit the dance floor. Closing my eyes, I drank in the Afro-Colombian tropical blend of sound—no longer in downtown Chico, but dancing barefoot on the sand, margarita in hand, with a two-week vacation in front of me. Looking around, it seemed everyone else was there, too.
For a band with so many members, Los Papi kept it together amazingly well. The horn section was loud but not overpowering. In fact, they performed a tangy version of “Oye Como Va” sans guitar. During one exhausting number (only so because I couldn’t stop dancing), the timbalero lost his cymbal without losing a beat, or his cool. At the end of the song, he recovered it with a flourish and held it up for applause.
The band’s name, loosely translated, is a tongue-in-cheek title meaning "hunks" or "sugar daddies," depending on dialect. Their music is rich, fun, and sexy, as any papi chulo should be. I’ll treat myself again at their next gig (same location) on Friday, May 11. ¡Muy caliente!