"Down in Mexico" by Los Angeles' early rock & roll, rythm & blues, and doo-wop pioneers The Coasters states exactly where it's at in this week's Los Hermanos. What better kick off than the widely recognized father of "Chicano Music": Lalo Guerrero. Born in Tucson, Arizona, one of 21 siblings (although only nine survived), Guerrero left his hometown to pursue his dream in music. His first American hit was "Pancho López", a parody of the popular 1950s hit "The Ballad of David Crocket". The song was popular in both Spanish and Enlish. However, due to criticism Guerrero received over this song, he never performed it publicly, not wanting to contribute to an inappropriate stereotype. Guerrero went on to record several more parody songs, including "Tacos For Two" (to the tune of "Cocktails For Two"), and "There's No Tortillas" (to the tune of "O Sole Mio"). His "Marihuana Boogie" - supposedly being their main source of occupation, neatly brings us to the youngsters of the fifties and sixties garage scene of Mexico city with groups as Los Monstruos and supersecos. Mexican rock and roll band The Johnny Jets, also characterized by their go-go style ballads and boleros are original from the region of Tamaulipas.
Juan García Esquivel was also born in Tampico, Tamaulipas. In 1928 his family moved to Mexico City. Esquivel is considered the king of a style of late 1950s-early 1960s quirky instrumental pop with many, instantly recognizable, jazz-like elements. However, other than his piano solos, there is no improvisation, and the works are tightly, meticulously arranged by Esquivel himself, who considered himself a perfectionist as a composer, performer, and recording artist. Which must have been exactly how Mingus pictured himself when he recorded the 1957 masterpiece "Tijuana Moods", a probable source of inspiration for Mexican jazz master Tino Contreras who for five decades and counting has melded Latin influences with free jazz, psychedelia, avant-garde experimentation, and global sounds from Egypt, India, Turkey, and elsewhere.
Chavela Vargas was born in Costa Rica. She went to Mexico in search of musical career opportunities at the age of 14. In her youth, she dressed as a man, smoked cigars, drank heavily, and carried a gun. She sang in the streets as a teenager until she ventured into a professional career in the 1930s. Her first album, Noche de Bohemia (Bohemian Night), was released in 1961 with the professional support of José Alfredo Jiménez. Vargas recorded over eighty albums since then. She partly retired in the late 1970s due to a 15 year-long battle with alcoholism. At 81 years old, she publicly declared that she was a lesbian. She is featured in many Almodóvar's films and also appeared in Iñàrritu's "Babel".
Ana Tijoux became famous in Latin America as the female MC of hip-hop group Makiza during the late 1990s. She gained more widespread recognition following her second solo album, "1977".