Queztal and Los Cojolites
The Breed Street Shul
Better than: A Hollywood Grammy red carpet party
Saturday night's celebration of some of the year's Grammy nominees in the Latin category brought the sounds of Son Jarocho music to Boyle Heights. Before doors opened at 8 am, the line for the free show at the Breed Street Shul stretched almost all the way to Cesar Chavez Blvd.
Though there were a couple hundred people, it felt like a family gathering. The DJ warmed up the crowd with everything from Mos Def to The Clash, and available food included tostadas, tacos, and aguas frescas, leaving other Grammy parties in the dust.
East L.A.'s Quetzal was nominated in the Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album” category, for their album Imaginaries. They've been bridging cultures in Los Angeles for some times now, and took the lead organizing this event along with Los Cojolites, who were nominated for Best Regional Mexican Music Album.
It was a celebration of the Son Jorocho scene — folk music and dance that fuses Spanish, African, and Indigenous music influenced by Veracruz, Mexico — that has been rising in small hubs all over the country.
San Francisco's Sistema Bomb was also nominated for a Grammy, and they brought the electro-Jarocho. Boston's David Wax Museum, meanwhile, brought the Mexo-American influence. The Grammys have never recognized this genre as much as they have this year.
Young and old filled the room; the music of Veracruz, Mexico continues to be passed down through the generations, forming a connection between L.A. born and immigrant Mexicans. More Son Jarocho musicians have been coming out L.A., with Boyle Heights being the center.
(Side note: L.A. folks should be sure to check out a “Fandango” sometime. It's Son Jarocho jam session, and anyone who wants to play a jarana (a small guitar) or join in on the dancing is welcome.)
The message on Saturday was greater than the Grammy nominations, though, it was also about representing the thriving community of Boyle Heights. Professors from a few universities were also in the audience; they came to the stage and talked about how important it is for the ever-evolving stories of Boyle Heights to be told.