If psychedelic Peruvian surf rock isn't the top played genre on your iPod, it's probably because you haven't heard Chicha Libre. The Brooklyn-based troupe resurrects the sounds of chicha, a style of 1970's Amazonian rock in Peru that mixes reverbed guitar, electric organ, and galloping indigenous beats. Named after the fermented drink (traditionally made of the pulp of corn chewed up and spat out by Incan women) and symbol of indigenous empowerment, Chicha Libre honors Peru's hybridized rock culture with their Ennio Morricone meets Dick-Dale-of-the-Amazon sound. Tonight Chicha Libre plays the legendary El Cid for their first L.A. performance since 2008. They will be joined by local accordion punks Very Be Careful, and will play an encore show at Angels in Santa Monica on Sunday.

At the El Cid, original chicha guitarist and current L.A. resident Jose L. Carballo joins Chicha Libre to provide the authentic psychedelic sound he helped create in 1970's Peru. So grab a jug of chicha and a bottle of pisco and party like a Peruvian.

After the jump, chicha king Jose L. Carballo gives West Coast Sound an exclusive look at the essential chicha albums in his collection. Now en Español!


Primavera En La Selva – Chicha Libre [mp3]


Jose Luis Carballo is one of the most influential Chicha guitarist in Peru. He grew up in a poor neighborhood of Lima, surrounded by new migrants from the Andes and started playing guitar at a young age. He played traditional and tropical music and later studied classical guitar. Starting in 1973, he played lead guitar for Angel Anibal's group Los Hijos del Sol, whose hit, “Cariñito” was one of the earliest successful attempt at fusing Andean music and cumbia. He also led his own band La Mermelada. In the late 70's, Jose Carballo went on to form La Nueva Crema (named after the band Cream) with back up singer Chacalon and they became the most beloved and most successful chicha band in Peru. Chacalon died in 1994. Carballo now lives in Los Angeles where he still plays with this band La Mermelada.

Jose L. Carballo graciously gave West Coast Sound his recommendations for essential chicha albums. Check it out.

Translations done by Olivier Conan, bandleader for Chicha Libre, owner of Barbes Records, and compiler of The Roots of Chicha Series.

Band: Los Destellos de Enrique Delgado

Essential Album: Los Destellos (Iempsa-Odeon), 1966

Hits: “El Avispon”, “Linda Charapita”, “Amor Andino”, “Elsa”

They represent the most important group of Peruvian Tropical music. They put forth hits which drew from the three most famous regions of Peru (the coast, the mountains, and the jungle).

Representan a la principal banda de musica tropical peruana, creando exitos musicales para las 3 regiones mas conocidas del Peru: Costa, sierra y selva.

Band: La Nueva Crema

Essential Album: Chacalon y La Nueva Crema (Discos Horoscopo), 1977

Hits: “Ven mi amor”, “Lagrimas de amor,” “El Provinciano”, “La Paz y la dicha”, “Sufrir, llorar, Para Que?”

They came out of, and identified with, the poor neighborhoods, the Pueblos Jovenes (the young towns) on the outskirts of Lima (ciudad de dios, pamplona, comas, villa el salvador, independencia, etc…) and created a musical hybrid which mixed different musical styles (Cumbia, rock, salsa, huayno, guaracah, guajira, son montuno, boogaloo and even classical music).

The creator of la Nueva Crema [Jose L. Carballo] grew up listening to that music and later studied classical guitar, even though he lived at the bottom of a hill, in Pamplona Alta, in the neighborhood of San Juan de Miraflores.

The most important thing we did was a fusion of different rhythms- Peruvians, foreign of various styles, including classical.

I think it was very influential to have played that music, and lived in those surroundings: Ciudad de Dios/Pamplona Alta (people around me were 90% migrants from the highlands) to come up with this hybrid that you call chicha.

Se identificaron y salieron de los Barrios pobres, de los Pueblos Jovenes que rodeaban la ciudad de Lima (Ciudad de Dios, Pamplona, Comas, Villa el Salvador, Independencia, etc) creando un hibrido musical que conglomeraba diferentes estilos de musica (cumbia, rock, salsa, huayno, guaracha, guajira, son montuno, bogaloo y hasta clasico).

El creador de la musica de La Nueva Crema [Jose L. Carballo] crecio escuchando esta musica y posteriormente estudio guitarra clasica a pesar que vivia en las faldas de un cerro, en Pamplona Alta, en el distrito de San Juan De Miraflores.

Lo importante es que hicimos una “fuzzion” de diferentes ritmos; peruanos, extranjeros y de diversos generos, hasta el clasico.

Pienso que muchisimo influyo haber tocado esta musica y haber vivido en este medio: Ciudad de Dios /Pamplona Alta, (la gente que me rodeaba era el 90% immigrante de la Sierra del Peru), el estudio y capacidad de creacion musical para lograr este “hibrido” que Uds. llaman “Chicha” (en mencion a la creacion que hize con “La Nueva Crema,” cantando “Chacalon.”

Band: Los Mirlos de Jorge Rodriguez Grández

Essential Album: Los Mirlos Del Peru (Infopesa), 1975

Hits: “La Danza de los Mirlos,” “Eres Mentirosa,” “La Danza del Petrolero”

They created a new style, within the Amazonian sound along with Juaneco y su combo. Their signature sound is the flanger on the lead guitar.

Creadores de un estilo, dentro del sonido amazonico (Selva del Peru) al lado de “Juaneco y su Combo.” Su identificacion del sonido de la guitarra lead es un”flanger.”

Band: Juaneco y su Combo de Juan Wong Paredes

Essential Album: Juaneco y su Combo (Infopesa),1970

Place of origin: City of Pucallpa (western Peru)

Hits: “Mujer Hilandera,” “Vacilando con Ayahuasca,” “Un Shipibo en Espana,” “Ya Se Ha Muerto Mi Abuelo”

They were, along with Los Mirlos, one of the most representative, and oldest (1966) band playing this style of Amazonian music. The idea of recording their first hit “Mujer Hilandera” (a Brazilian song) came from their producer Albert Maravi (from the label Infopesa) who knew the song for having been a DJ in Brazil.

Junto a “Los Mirlos” es la banda mas representativa y una de las mas antiguas (1966) tocando este estilo Amazonico (Selva del Peru), la idea de grabar su primer hit “Mujer Hilandera” (Cancion de Brasil), fue por su productor Alberto Maravi (Disquera Infopesa) quien conocia esta cancion por haber trabajado como DJ en Brasil.

Band: Los Shapis de Jaime Moreyra y Julio Simeon

Essential Album: Los Shapis (Discos Horoscopo), 1981

Hits: “El Aguajal”, “La Novia”, “Borrachito borrachon”

They represent the tropical music from the central part of Peru (Huancayo, Jauja, Tarma, Oroya, Cerro de Pasco, Junin, etc). Their musical fusion is clearly 100% Huyano and cumbia.

Representan a la musica tropical de la parte Central del Peru(Huancayo, Jauja, Tarma, Oroya, Cerro de Pasco, Junin,etc). Su fuzzion musical es netamente 100% Huayno y Cumbia.

Band: Los Hijos del Sol de Angel Anibal Rosado

Essential Album: Los Hijos del Sol (Discos Sucesos), 1976

Hits: “Si me quieres”,”Carinito”,”El Borrachito”

Angel Anibal Rosado, successful composer of Criolla and Afro-Peruvian music also played Tropical music, along guitarist with Jose L. Carballo. They produced the very successful “Cariñito” and many songs which are now classics and which mixed music from the Andes and from the Coast. They included three female background singers.

Angel Anibal Rosado, compositor exitoso de musica criolla y negroide, tambien incursiona dentro de la musica tropical junto a la guitarra de Jose L. Carballo, logrando el suceso musical “Carinito” y muchas canciones mas que son clasicas de este grupo que fuzionaron lo “Andino” con lo 'Costeño”, incluyendo a tres coristas (mujeres) dentro de sus voces.

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