Cascada de Flores
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Cascada de Flores

Richmond, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1999 | SELF

Richmond, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1999
Band Latin Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Cascada de Flores' Golden Heart"

It's hard to overstate the excellence of Cascada de Flores. The six-piece band, led by Arwen Lawrence (voice, dance, guitar) and Jorge Liceaga (voice, lead guitar, acting) pay homage to Latin American radio in an act that combines impeccable musicality, theater and the utmost respect for Mexican and Caribbean rhythms and culture. Lawrence and Liceaga, along with Marco Díaz (piano), Kyla Danysh (violin), Saúl Sierra-Alonso (bass) and Brian Rice (percussion) could easily, and quite pleasingly, present a straight-up concert; however, the format of their tour de force of a show (and album), Radio Flor, is old-time radio. Interspersed between beautiful renditions of boleros, guarachas and jazz standards are witty station IDs', comedic "words from our sponsors," dramatic radio skits and dancing. Think Mexican Prairie Home Companion and you start to get the idea.

The ensemble's February appearance at The Freight & Salvage, a jam-packed show featuring reinterpretations of songs by Ricardo Palmerín, "Blue Moon" in both standard and Latinized "La Luna Azul" formats, and a whole ton of heart, was a celebration of their newly released live album, recorded in Berkeley in 2015 and funded by their fans. Honoring and advancing tradition, building multicultural bridges, and celebrating life, the performance was also a demonstration of the best of what can be done with music.

Lawrence and Liceaga began playing together as Cascada de Flores in San Francisco in 1999, but have been steeped in Mexican music throughout their lives. Lawrence toured with the Grammy-winning mariachi band, Los Camperos de Nati Cano, and Liceaga's mentors include Mexico City-based Leonardo Salas. After joining forces, Lawrence and Liceaga traveled throughout Latin America to further catch the spirit of its music and culture. Radio Flor finds them honoring these stories and songs with clear eyes, compassion and joy.

Cascada's love for this music and its people is palpable: A radio segment "One Minute of Culture" depicts a scene of a migrant field worker catching a brief moment of entertainment before a day of toil begins. Their original, "Marla,” was equal parts grammar lesson, audience participation segment, spirited song, and comedy routine. Another sketch, "News From the Future," found the band living in a world where "a breath of fresh air is $25 and a CD $1.99." The band "had to make some sacrifices," Lawrence narrates, and must perform sans instruments, a cappella, with a bit of beer bottle accompaniment. It's social commentary that gets at the uncomfortable truth without being abrasive, all the while showcasing Cascada's talents.

Over their two sets at The Freight (including a costume change) the audience was alternately moved to laugh out loud, cry, and energetically clap. By the end of the evening, most of the audience was on its feet, dancing in complete and unfettered delight. Olé! - No Depression

"'Global Village' Presents New Collaborations In Latin Music"

World music DJ Betto Arcos joins NPR's Arun Rath once again this weekend on All Things Considered to share some of the music he's been spinning on Global Village, the show he hosts on KPFK in Los Angeles. This time around, Arcos presents four collaborations between female singers and guitarists, a list that includes a duo re-imagining traditional Mexican music, jazz crooners and more. Hear his conversation with NPR's Arun Rath at the audio link above.

New Collaborations From Around The World - NPR

"Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Concert Review"

Featuring Arwen Lawrence’s ravishing voice and guitarist Jorge Liceaga
supple accompaniment, Cascada de Flores bring intoxicating energy to
the Latin American songbook. But with their new show “Radio Flor,” the
ensemble has created a delightful frame for their repertoire of
emotionally wrought boleros, rhythmically insistent sones, bamcucos,
guarachas, and even a soaring Rodgers and Hart gem. Designed like a
vintage radio broadcast, the production includes station
identifications, hilarious mock commercials, and a brief radio drama
starring Liceaga as El Dandy. Playful, witty and artfully staged, the
show is as charming as the music is breathtaking. Lawrence and Liceaga
have once again earned their bouquets.

By Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News

07/02/14 - Rock Paper Scissors

"The ensemble “Cascada de Flores” delighted the Mixtecan public"

The ensemble “Cascada de Flores” delighted the Mixtecan public marzo 9, 2013
* The ensemble from San Francisco California, referred to the trials of migration.
By Lauro Reyes/Igavec
The enchanting voice of Arwen Lawrence, vocalist of the group “Cascada de Flores”, from San Francisco, California, accompanied by 4 excellent musicians, delighted the Heroic Town of Tezoatlán de Segura y Luna in the 5th night of the Expo Tezoatlán 2013, where the theme of migration touched sensitive fibers, since many of the Tezoatecans could not visit the Señor de La Capilla this year, due to the tightening of anti-migrant measures.
“A musical journey jumping borders, from country to country, city to [countryside]”, defined the concert in which many pieces were dedicated to the countryfolk who flee their homes searching for the ‘American Dream’. Many Tezoatecans felt as if in a trance of peace and harmony, upon hearing each of the interpretations of Cascada de Flores, but they also felt connected, because although Arwen is Californian, she shared time since her youth with the Mexican community in
the United States, where she learned to love the roots of communities such as Oaxaca. With Jorge Liceaga, she started out on the adventure of exploring the music and dance of the people.
The group thanked the director of the Orquesta Pasatono, Rubén Luengas, for having introduced them to the richness of the music from la Mixteca and for bringing them to what is the beauty of Tezoatlán.
“People that migrate to other places speak of their experiences of not finding what they expected, of the difficulties, but very few speak of how they change the lives of those who live in the country they’ve arrived to. Mexicans who live in California changed my life, I who am from there, I fell in love with their culture, they put me under their wings and set me
to fly: I found my voice” she said to the public.
With composers such as Higinia Peláez, Ñico Saquito, Luis Moreno, Agustín Lara, among others, they brought to life music from yesteryear of Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico. A clarinet solo in the song “Cómo Fue” [by Ernesto Duarte] and the magnificent voice of Arwen, made the most romantic moment of the evening.
The cool evening passed by not only illuminated by the moon, but by the art of Cascada de Flores who bid farewell with the danzoneteof Peregrina. With the municipal esplanade
that gave an ovation to Cascada de Flores completely full, the musicians parted leaving a fresh and renewed spirit. - Marca Oaxaca

"Cascada de Flores “Radio Flor” a Tropical Music Gem"

For me, the small Latin folk musical group called Cascada de Flores has been a delicious discovery of retro acoustic music with Mexican and Caribbean roots.

As they say in the liner notes of “Radio Flor”, their 4th album, this is a trip back in time to our grandparents’ living room, where the radio is booming with great music and the occasional humorous voice ads. “Radio Flor” is a trip into nostalgia, into our musical past and heritage, but with the respect and elegance that it deserves.

The nostalgia trips include the radio broadcasts of the 1st part of the 20th century, when radio shows preceded TV shows. Cascada de Flores captured the essence of those radio shows by recording live, with the full ensemble playing together in the recording studio. What a great idea this turned out to be! I loved the way the music sounds and the evident love with which each musician performs, which permeates through the speakers and into your ears.

The Cascada de Flores ensemble is based in the U.S. west coast Bay Area, and it’s integrated by:

Arwen Lawrence: voice, rhythm guitars & dance
Jorge Liceaga: voice, lead guitars
Saul Sierra-Alonso: double bass, leoncita & chorus
Marco Díaz: trumpet, piano, & chorus
Brian Rice: percussion and chorus

And “Radio Flor” is all of that; a trip to nostalgia, by the music, by the instruments, by the love and passions in each song performed, just like it was in yesteryear; in the years of our “abuelos”!

A Great Acoustical Latin Music Trip trough Mexico and the Caribbean

"Radio Flor" cozy acoustic interpretation of timeless Latin music classics is refreshing to the ears.
“Radio Flor” cozy acoustic interpretation of timeless Latin music classics is refreshing to the ears.
Great acoustical music – this small ensemble of traditional Mexican and Cuban music is just mesmerizing. You can’t help but love the “unplugged” sound of the Cascada de Flores ensemble. The fact that they record “live” all together gives its music a lot of authenticity.

Varied Song Selection – “Radio Flor” contains 13 songs and 5 well spread “Radio Clips”, each of which resembles a piece of a old radio broadcast in between live performed songs. These “radio clips” provide “Radio Flor” a nice ambience of this being a true broadcast from the past; a reminder of the album’s theme.

The songs cover music mostly from Mexico and Cuba, although I did notice a Dominican merengue rhythm in “Jardinero de Amor”. The rest of the songs vary in Latin music genre, from rancheras/corrido, boleros, son, danzón, and even haupango. The song selection, from song writers like José Antonio Mendez and Agustín Lara, is fantastic.

Great singing – beyond having a beautiful voice, Arwen can give each song the right tone of happiness, romanticism by the passion with which she sings. At times, her enunciation reminds me of the late Eydie Gormé.

My Favorite Song – I liked many songs in “Radio Flor”, but “With a Song in My Heart”, the only American song in the album, wins me over. This song showcases the talent and creativity in the Cascada de Flores group. The song is a 1929 tune from a Broadway musical, that since has been songs by many and even a film was made after it. But…what Cascada de Flores does differently is that it converts it majestically into a beautiful Danzón, in a way that the core of the song doesn’t loose it’s original essence, and its mixed with the Caribbean flavor the album theme has. The only Danzón in the album is performed excellently by these West Coast ensemble.

Additional Opportunities for “Radio Flor”

Expand to other Latin American music classics – the only opportunity I see missed in “Radio Flor” is that it does not include a more broad song selection from other Latin countries. With their very same format, Cascade de Flores could easily include songs from the Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Central and South American songbook. I assume that perhaps they focus on songs from Mexico and Cuba because of their ancestry, but including 2 or 3 songs form other countries may grant them more followers from other Latin music fans.

I highly recommend “Radio Flor” to those that like old Latin American music. The boleros, the danzón, the corridos; everything sounds incredibly authentic, and you can feel the love, passion, and talent this small “unplugged” ensemble brings to the recording!

I just discovered Cascada de Flores with their 4th album”Radio Flor”, which was sent to me to write a review blog for you. Now I can’t wait to go find and listen to the other 3 albums they have, “13 Historias” (2009), “Mi Sueño” (2007), and “Puente a la Mar” (2002).

This Sunday morning I’m putting on “Radio Flor” to start my day relaxing with this beautiful music! - Latino Music Cafe


I was unfamiliar with San Francisco’s Cascada de Flores until their album Radio Flor (Ita Music, 2013) reached me. I’m now notably better off than I was, because their sound is a warm and wonderful mix of Cuban and Mexican roots played by an acoustic lineup of guitars, bass, piano, percussion and trumpet topped off by the silken spice of vocals by Arwen Lawrence. It’s a vintage-sounding affair, leisurely paced and completely enchanting. Sure, you may think you don’t want to hear Rodgers and Hart’s “With a Song in My Heart” done as a seven-minute danzon, but trust me, you do. I’ll say no more about this music; you simply must experience it for yourself. - World Music Central

"CD Review: Cascada de Flores' Radio Flor"

by Susan Kepecs

Radio Flor, the beautifully crafted fourth release by Bay Area-based Cascada de Flores (Ita Music, 2014), crackles with heartfelt passion for a diverse set of songs from Mexico and Cuba. The band has a deep sense of mexicanidad, but Cuban music’s always been part of Mexico’s musical soundtrack. Casdada de Flores is basically a duo – vocalist / guitarist / dancer Arwwn Lawrence and Mexico City-born guitarist / vocalist Jorge Liceaga. They’re accompanied on this album by Saul Sierra-Alonzo on double bass and Marco Diaz on piano and trumpet, both from John Santos’ ensemble and other Bay Area outfits, plus up-and-coming world percussionist Brian Rice.

Lawrence apprenticed with Nati Cano’s LA-based Mariachi los Camperos, though her own approach is much closer to trova mexicana, and the luminous voice of Guadalupe Pineda, than to the tear-soaked, cantina-style llanto of ranchera divas like Chavela Vargas or Lola Beltrán, or, for that matter, Lila Downs. Lawrence’s bright soprano soars like a sea breeze over the instrumentation on Radio Flor, based on the concept of bringing to life the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s sound of Mexico City radio station XEW – “la voz de America Latina desde México.” XEW, part of the Televisa empire that essentially controls the Mexican media, is still around, and it still has the classic sound of a Mexican radio station, though what’s classic today isn’t nearly as romantic as the mid-twentieth century oeuvre that’s captured on Radio Flor.

Staticky “radio clips” from Radio Flor, the live show – “Desde el DF, la voz grande de America Latina y California presenta para todos ustedes, la hora … (applause),” sound just like the real thing. Interspersed among the thirteen tunes on the album they lend gentle humor and an extra shot of love for all things Mexican to its concept.

The songs, culled from Mexico’s dizzying cultural patchwork quilt, speak to Cascada de Flores’ well-honed ethnomusicological sense and versatile musicianship. In the hands of a single quintet such a rangy set could be dulled by sameness, but that’s not what happens here. The instrumentation is ample enough, the musicians’ hearts open enough, to capture the bona fide feel of each piece, though there’s some healthy some cross-pollination that makes all of them sound sexy and new. Lawrence puts a flirtatious inflection on the famous guaracha-son “Maria Cristina” that’s more Mexican than Cuban, while Liceaga’s guitarra trés is spot-on Oriente – the eastern end of Cuba, where both the instrument and the song originated – and his ever-so-slightly off-key singing on this tune is pure sonero oriental. The bluesy whisper of Diaz’ trumpet adds gilds “Chuparrosa,” an Afro-mestizo son from the Costa Chica of Guerrero and Oaxaca, with California-style Latin jazz. Liceaga and Sierra-Alonzo’s clever danzon / danzón-cha arrangement of Rogers and Hart’s “With a Song in My Heart” turns a 1929 Broadway show tune Cuban. But there’s purity, too – Lawrence’s cajón provides just the right rhythmic nuances for “Chuparrosa.” “Claveles” is a shining example of la trova yucateca in bambuco time, marked out by Lawrence zapateando on the tablado -- and it's the song in the video at the top of this post. We don’t hear nearly enough songs from the land of pheasant and deer in the States.

In fact we don’t hear nearly enough musica mexicana here in gringolandia, outside the Mexican / Central American community. Even the world music circuit, so saturated with cumbia, bachata and timba, gives sounds from south of the border short shrift. The oversight’s a total mystery to me. But Radio Flor busts out of the box with its playfulness and jazzy twinkle. This album should assure Cascada de Flores a prominent spot on the world stage. - Cultural Oyster

"Radio Flor Album Review"

Radio Flor Ita Music, no cat no
The San Francisco Bay Area’s Cascada De Flores (‘waterfall of flowers’) was founded in 1999 by Mexico City native Jorge Liceaga (voice, guitar, tres, requinto, tumbadora) and Arwen Lawrence de Castellanos (voice, guitar, bari- tone guitar, jarana tercera, vihuela, cajón, zap- ateado). Rounding out the ensemble are Marco Díaz (trumpet, piano, chorus), Saúl Sier- ra-Alonso (double bass, leoncita, chorus), and Brian Rice (paila, güiro, bongó, tarola, udo, cajón, pandeiro, quijada de burro, chorus).
Cascada De Flores wholly inhabits a beguiling repertoire of Cuban guarachas, boleros, bambucos, canciones de trova, rancheras, clever original compositions (eg Marla, a comical Spanish-language double- entendre tour de force), and a danzón-style interpretation of the Rodgers & Hart chestnut With A Song In My Heart.
The group’s eponymous self-published debut takes a nod to radio station XEW and the ‘border blaster’ era (c 1940–1972), when Mexican AM stations clustered on the north- ern border projected their potent signals far into the United States, often overpowering English-language broadcasts to the great annoyance of US audiences, station man- agers, and advertisers alike. The CD has some of that same puckish feel; its eighteen tracks include interspersed radio jingles that might have been heard during an era ruled by such artists as Mexico’s Trio Los Panchos, Los Tres Ases, Toña La Negra, Agustín Lara, Las Tres Conchitas, and Cuba’s Ñico Saquito, Ernesto Duarte, and Ismael Mario Ruiz Suárez. The attractive illustrated digipack includes lyrics in Spanish. Top-shelf musicianship and lovely vocal harmonies showcasing Lawrence’s exquisite soprano invoke a gone romantic era that is as alluring in the innovative hands of Cascada de Flores as it was in the music’s orig- inal incarnation. - fRoots

"Facts on Wax by Bob Morello (Album Review)"

No need to understand the language, the message is in the music and vocals! - Boston Post Gazette


Live ©2016 (ita Music, Live album produced by Steve Savage)

Radio Flor ©2014 (ita Music, produced by Steve Savage) 

La Chuparrosa (single) ©2014 (ita Music, produced by Steve Savage)

Mi Sueño ©2007 (produced by Greg Landau) 

Puente a la Mar ©2002 (Produced by Mark Lemaire) 

Mexico ©2000, 13 Historias ©2009 (10 year anniversary re-release)



"Cascada de Flores is a delicious discovery of retro acoustic music with Mexican and Caribbean roots. Radio Flor is a trip into nostalgia, into our musical past and heritage, with the respect and elegance that it deserves.” - Hector Aviles, Latino Music Cafe

The celebrated sound of Cascada de Flores echoes the golden radio age, where urban elegance and earthy traditions from the countryside were joyously juxtaposed; in the hands, voices and imaginations of these bi-national musicians of today, it is personal, new and “intoxicating”: “Featuring Arwen’s ravishing voice and guitarist Jorge Liceaga’s supple accompaniment, Cascada de Flores bring intoxicating energy to the Latin American songbook.” Andrew Gilbert (San Francisco Chronicle)” This Mexican-American duo of song, guitar and dance, celebrates almost 2 decades of delighting while informing audiences of all ages and languages of a music that resonates deeper than where differences lie. In their new Sextet, and latest releases ‘Live!’ (2016) and ‘Radio Flor’ (2014), they are expertly supported by pillars of the San Francisco traditional music and latin jazz scenes. Saúl Sierra-Alonso (bass) and Marco Díaz (piano and trumpet) compose and play the John Santos Sextet and multi-talented percussionist Brian Rice is a member of Mike Marshall's Choro Famoso as well as co-founder of the annual Berkeley Choro Festival. In ‘Live’ Cascada celebrates the addition of Kyla Danysh (violin), a Berkeley native who contributes to sweet old melodies and improvised conversations with her own voice, steeped in klezmer, classical and son mexicano. The small conjunto brings nostalgic song and unknown traditions into beautiful, simple arrangements that allow space for improvisation, musical communication and pure expression.

"Honoring and advancing tradition, building multicultural bridges, and celebrating life, the performance was a demonstration of the best of what can be done with music."  - No Depression

The core members of Cascada de Flores have been re-imagining Mexican tradition for years. After falling for Mexican music as a young woman, Arwen Lawrence toured with Grammy-winning L.A. mariachi heavyweights, Los Camperos de Nati Cano, an apprenticeship that honed her skills and deepened her love for Mexico's musical language. With them, she recorded and performed in venues such as the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara and Lincoln Center of New York. Nati always nudged her towards what she already did naturally: to sing with heart.

Jorge Liceaga grew up in Mexico City, buying his first guitar with the money he'd earned shining shoes. Self taught, he was later mentored by local legend Leonardo 'El León' Salas, a transplant from Yucatan, who taught Jorge to 'guasanguearla' (play with that special Yucatecan swing). Jorge followed his sister and found himself amongst local masters of artistic communication: The flamencos of Gitanerías. From them he received a raw and complicated education, which contributed to his special sensitivity as accompanist. 

The pair founded Cascada de Flores in San Francisco, CA in 1999. They began by journeying into the hidden corners of Mexico, seeking the real stories of that hugely diverse country. Inspired by the fact that even as deep as its diversity goes, Mexico has a continuous love affair with foreign cultural phenomenon and incorporates them as if they were its own, the ensemble spends 14 years swimming in a magical place somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea where rancheras, boleros, sones and guarachas from México, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Colombia meet. 

Cascada de Flores has recorded now five albums, collaborated in numerous projects, including theater and cinema and toured to several areas of the United States. In Mexico they have been delightfully received in venues such as The central plaza in Mexico City with Jorge Saldaña, la Tasca in Jalapa, and lately in the beautiful Biblioteca Henestrosa in Oaxaca city and the main festival of Tezoatlán, Oaxaca. They even traveled to perform for and study with the trovadores of Santiago de Cuba.

Additionally, Cascada de Flores is firmly committed to music and cultural education. They present a bilingual music and dance program for children in schools, libraries and theaters such as Montalvo Arts Center (Saratoga), Herbst Theater (San Francisco), Mexican Heritage Plaza (San Jose) and Lobero Theater (Santa Barbara). They have performed in over 1000 Western US schools and Libraries reaching over 500,000 children with their educational program. Recently, the Dúo brought their musical story to la Mixtecan hills of Oaxaca, Mexico. Close to home, members of Cascada de Flores present ongoing bilingual classes and special workshops for children and families focused on traditional Latin American folk songs and Mexican traditional music and dance.

Band Members