A Wall of Transfrontera Sound

A Wall of Transfrontera Sound

By Amanda Pe?alosa
Published on LatinoLA: October 26, 2000

A Wall of Transfrontera Sound

"I was born on the line. I've been on both sides of the line. The border is an idea, not a thing. It will be destroyed by other ideas. By a Wall of Transfrontera Sound."
- Ruben Martinez
They say you can never have the best of both worlds.
Musically though, anything is possible. Last Saturday, in the heart of Latino Los Angeles, two worlds collided -- Mexican Tijuana met Chicano Los Angeles, and a border was destroyed. A musical border.
L.A. bands Aztlan Underground, Slowrider, Blues Experiment, Quetzal, Calavera, and Los Illegals mixed their Chicano rock/ punk sounds with that of some of Tijuana's best, namely Tijuana No!, Nona Delichas, Mexican Jumping Frijoles, Fussible and Mercado Negro. Throw in two veteran rockeros, Roco from Maldita Vecindad and Ruben 'Funkahuatl' Guevara from Ruben and the Jets, and what do you have?
Besides an all star, fierce, raging (free!) show, you have something that's possibly going to change an aspect of rock in Los Angeles.
Attendance at the Placita Olvera kiosk celebrating the CD release of "Mexamerica" was moderate, but the vibe from the crowd was unimaginable. Rockeros, punkeros, rancheros, Chicanos were in attendance, indulging themselves in a mezcla of two worlds of music. This is where hip hop met rock, where Chicano met Mexicano, where the one world collided with the next.
Arriving on Chicano People time, I was about half an hour late to the show and had missed the first two bands. I walked up to the kiosk and was immediately enraptured by the sounds of Claudia Morphin of Nona Delichas singing along with our own homegrown Marta Gonzales of Quetzal. Two melodic, perfectly parallel voices grabbed out at me, singing "Tener o Ser," a violin-driven rock ballad translating to "Having or Being."
What happened after that was almost magical. Funk, powerful words, guitars, rock, it was all present as the next two bands performed. Blues Experiment with Ruben Guevara and Slowrider with Roco from Maldita Vecindad performed with a fierceness that only the best rock can provide.
The most amazing thing was that the passion evoked from the performers seeped into the crowd, which seems to be somewhat rare these days. People were dancing in between the seats, moshing in front of the stage, singing to themselves, with children were dancing with the older folks. One man was drenched in sweat, having danced emphatically to every single song performed. He was later thanked by one of the members of Slowrider.
After the show, I happily forked over five dollars for the CD compilation; anxious to hear the bands I had missed. Listening to it a few days later, the words overwhelmed me as much as the music did that night at the Placita.
The last song on the CD is called "Mexica Xicano Connexion" and depicts what I'm assuming Mexamerica co-producers Ruben Martinez and Ruben Guevara aimed to do. To show that there is a connection between these two worlds, despite the miles-long border that divides us.
To me, it proves that music is the one way to tear down those walls.
Ruben Martinez says it best in the liner notes:
The border is an idea, not a thing
It will be destroyed by other ideas
By a Wall of Transfrontera Sound
By a Mighty Migrant Army
By dreaming it away

About Amanda Pe?alosa:
Amanda Pe?alosa, LatinoLA's Most Valuable Intern, is a senior at Cal State Long Beach. Her e.mail address is manderz24@latinola.com

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