There’s no danger in giving local Latin music a spin
Sam Miranda is just a little bit pissed off.
Judging from the serious, immediate tone of his voice—the way his words bend upward, quickly reaching high notes, as if annoyed by his very speech—it’s not hard to gather that the Sol Peligro frontman is heated.
But don’t worry: He’s not mad at you.
He’s pissed at us, the media. Miranda’s beef with Sacramento journalists is that they’re sleeping on one of the city’s most important musical revolutions. “There’s a big Latin music scene. Unfortunately, I feel sometimes that the publications, and of course radio, don’t get behind it as much as any other genre,” he says.
And, as a self-proclaimed new jack, Miranda’s not necessarily talking about his band. Instead, he points to other established groups, like Luvtaxi and Conquista Musical, who are largely ignored by print and radio outlets.
And he’s right. Consider: An informal poll taken at The Naked Lounge coffeehouse reveals that most people there, studying and staring into laptops, never have heard of said Sacramento Latin-music acts.
And that, says Miranda, is a total shame.
And whose fault is it, he asks? Don’t answer that.
To interpret Miranda’s harsh words as bitterness, however, would be a mistake, because his frustration comes from a true, authentic place. He’s just excited about Sol Peligro’s music, and even more energized for everyone to hear what’s in store for his band’s future.
Sol Peligro’s eight members (Curtis Blankenship, drums; Cesar Mena, bass; Jason Tescher, trombone; Parrish Sellers, trumpet; Will Scharff, keys; Matt Beelman, guitar; Ken Rego, conga, timbale; Miranda, vocals, percussion) utilize touches of traditional cumbia and ritmo en español, but sound a lot like a Mexican version of reggae, with increased energy and soulful vocals. And the band, ever-changing as the years tick by, has weaved a slightly grittier, alternative edge into its new work, which allows the music to stay fresh while not straying too far from traditional Latin-music territory.
“We’ve added more spice. I don’t want people to think that we’ve totally turned around from what we’ve been doing before; we’re still always going to blend in the traditional, but at the same time, the energy level is up a notch,” Miranda says.
Whereas other Latin bands like Ozomatli (a Miranda favorite) took a full-fledged nose dive into alternative rock, ditching its influences all at once, Sol Peligro is careful to keep its roots intact.
“We modernized it, so to speak. It’s still energetic. It’s still danceable, but at the same time, as opposed to the old folks getting into it, you’re also going to hear the KWOD 106.5 generation checking it out, too.”
Miranda’s optimistic, yeah, but that’s not to say that he still isn’t pissed off. Because he is.
So hopefully radio deejays can emerge from their Nickelback trance soon enough to play some Latin tunes. Same goes for the behind-the-times trend suckers at SN&R, The Sacramento Bee, Submerge, Fringe, Midtown Monthly and Sactown, who hopefully will pull their heads from their uninspired, collective ass and get with the new yet traditional, exciting, rear-shaking sound of Sacramento. You know?