Frontera Bugalu
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Frontera Bugalu

El Paso, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

El Paso, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Latin World




"Up all night: Frontera Bugalú back with new album"

When I step back and think about all the time I’ve spent in El Paso’s music scene, sometimes it’s hard to believe.

When I step back just a little bit further and include my friends who I’ve known for more than 20 years, it’s even harder.

One friend, who has been kicking around the El Paso music scene since the mid-1990s, when he, I and some other high school buddies formed one of our first punk-rock bands, is Kiko Rodriguez.

While most people might not know about Rodriguez from those days playing fast and angry in dusty backyards in the Lower Valley and Central El Paso, many do know the guitarist and accordion player from more well-known bands, Fuga and, more recently, Frontera Bugalú.

While the group has been inactive for a few years, Rodriguez said he's now set to release a newly rejuvenated Frontera Bugalú album with a release party Friday at Tricky Falls.

“I broke up (Frontera Bugalú) a few years back and went to go do some other things,” Rodriguez said in a phone interview from California, where he, his current musical partner, pianist Joel Osvaldo, and an group of assembled musicians are rehearsing for upcoming West Coast gigs. “But, I was writing throughout that time.”

Both Fuga and Frontera Bugalú are known for their dance-floor filling Latin rhythms and their socially and politically conscious message. But, Rodriguez said that the new album, which he wrote and recorded with Osvaldo and a host of other guest musicians in El Paso, California and New Mexico, finds him in a more mature creative space than ever before.

“It’s natural when you go from being a young, punk-rocker to getting older. But, my political ideas have grown and matured,” Rodriguez said. “You realize the world isn’t really black and white. There’s no static right or wrong. I did songs that are just to dance to, love songs, political songs. That’s more my world view now. It’s everything and it’s all happening at the same time.”

One of the things Rodriguez wanted to do was write more personal lyrics. But, for an artist who always wore his politics on his sleeve, putting his heart in the same place didn’t come easy.

“(My friends said) you have to brave enough to do more personal music,” Rodriguez said. “I did some things and I didn’t plan to release them.”

But one song, "Lindo Pensar," became a favorite for some of his friends, and he decided it had to be on the new album.

It’s just another part of the evolution of a musician who went from playing punk protest songs, to trying out Latin influences and picking up the accordion for the first time in Fuga and Frontera Bugalú, all the while never forgetting where he came from.

“It feels weird sometimes, playing cumbia (and, at the same time, singing about) serious topics,” Rodriguez said. “I like being political, but I don’t want to be boring. After Fuga, I just liked having people dancing at the shows. I wanted to be known as a dance band. We’re kind of just sneaking in all these messages and people don’t seem to mind, although I try to be more crafty, more subtle now.”

In a treat for Fuga fans, Rodriguez will be joined on stage by former Fuga lead singer – Rodriguez’s sister – Tanya Rodriguez, as well as other former band members during the show at Tricky Falls.

Rodriguez said he also recruited his sister to sing a song on the new album.

“It was like we never even stopped. She wrote stuff on the spot and we were done in a few hours,” Rodriguez said.

I reminded him that it was his dad, a longtime El Paso community organizer, who used to tell us that the message in our music was good, but we should try writing songs that were more accessible to the people our message affected the most.

Rodriguez said he remembers those wise words as well, and they influenced him when he started making Latin-flavored music.

“I used to think, how do I make this cool? And it wasn’t that (Latin music) wasn’t cool, it was that I didn’t understand it,” Rodriguez said. “I still use all the values I learned from the punk scene – how to gig and take care of bands – but then, I also wanted to play for El Paso, which is 90 percent (Hispanic) and it’s hard. You can’t just play a corrido, you have to make it interesting. I’ve been able to reach a much greater audience.”

Dave Acosta may be reached at 546-6138;; @AcostaDavidA on Twitter. - El Paso Times

"Alternative Cumbia Returns by way of Frontera Bugalú’s Second Album Alma de Jaguar"

The wait is over. Alternative Cumbia band Frontera Bugalú, the Latin-based powerhouse founded by veteran musicians Kiko Rodriguez-Glenn and Joel Osvaldo, is releasing its second album Alma de Jaguar May 6. To amp up energy for the new record, the band is throwing a CD Release Party at Tricky Falls, May 6 at 8 p.m.

The album was written and arranged by Rodriguez-Glenn, Osvaldo, and local DJ Julio Salgado, who goes by his stage name, Birth DFX, over a summer. Rodriguez-Glenn had specific musicians in mind when the songs were being written; therefore, the following summer he road tripped to California and New Mexico to seek out particular veteran players to track specific parts.

The record is a brilliant blend of the band’s signature cumbia, son, salsa, and mambo sound. Each of the 10 songs is evidence of the experience and versatility of the musicians. Alma de Jaguar is fresh and diverse, and sure to get your nalgas moving!

We had the opportunity to speak with Kiko Rodriguez-Glenn about the making of Alma de Jaguar and his return to the El Paso music scene.

What is this album about?

Perseverance and survival on the border. both spiritually and physically. connecting to our roots and our grandmothers, their advice and wisdom about life. Connecting to our Native American past, represented by the jaguar. no matter who we are at our jobs, school, group of friends, we all have the rich heritage of belonging to the original families that inhabited this area.

Is there a central theme?

Alma de Jaguar, a spiritual point that anyone can find in themselves. This album is about believing in yourself and exploring whats in you, instead of always looking outside of yourself, money, power, status for happiness.

Kiko Rodriguez-Glenn
This album is much more mature than the last one, as I took almost a year alone just to write down basic ideas and another year or two to produce the right sounds.

What was your muse?

Things that were happening to me personally took on the shapes of songs after a while. I also wrote about those around me. It is a very personal album. “Pueblo Sometido” is about the city erecting the conquistador statue at the airport and how betrayed many of us felt, as we consider the native history of El Paso part of us. “Oscuridad” is about the mistakes and the dark places we all go to in different stages of our life. etc.

Is this album a continuation from your first album or is it distinctly different? If so, how is it different?

I chose different instrumentation on this album, focusing more on piano and accordion. The group is being rebuilt as I left to do other projects for a few years. This album is much more mature than the last one, as I took almost a year alone just to write down basic ideas and another year or two to produce the right sounds. We still sound the same, but better hopefully.

How is it similar?

It is still very rootsy music. I could see this stuff playing in a club or at your grandmas house. I am still very focused on making music for all the generations. I believe there is a strong connection between all of us, especially in El Paso.

Who contributed to the making of the album?

Props to Joel Osvaldo and Dj Birth DFX for helping me write and arrange it. Fabian Martinez of Kill Media produced it for me in California. Marco Ramirez of and Sonic Ranch mixed and mastered. They all played crucial roles in it’s various phases and each time someone would work on it just get better and better.

Many of my musician friends chipped in, coming by the studios to drop tracks. I felt really blessed, they are the best at what they do.

Where did you record?

El Paso, Bay area, Los Angeles, and Albuquerque.

I could see this stuff playing in a club or at your grandmas house. I am still very focused on making music for all the generations.

How will you release the music? Digitally? Vinyl? Where can people find your album?

The album will be available digitally on bandcamp as of May 6th. There will be a special vinyl pressing of only 120 that will be made and we are still taking orders for. Check our facebook bandpage for details

Who created the album artwork?

Zeke Peña at did the cover. He did our last one and is one of our favorite artists from el paso. Our good friend Yocupitzia Martinez did the lay out

Joel Osvaldo
You recently held a fundraiser to raise money to complete the recording of the album. Can you tell me a little about that?

Yes, we put the album on indiegogo in order to complete production costs. Albums are very expensive and we couldn’t have done it without the support of 52 fans that contributed. We matched those funds with the ones we had been saving and in-kind contributions from many of the musicians and producers. It really did take a team of people to do this.

Will you tour?

Yes, we will be touring throughout the Southwest and Mexico this year.

Who plays in the live version of Frontera?

The El Paso line-up on May 6th will be the best as we are having many of the people who worked on the album. Tania Rodriguez, my sister, and lead singer for FUGA! will be singing that night. Rafael Herrera will be on drums. We will also have special guests Leo Martinez, guitarist and singer for Los Chamucos as well as FUGA!, and Amalia Mondragon, singer for Las Chamanas, as well as a veteran from the old Frontera line-up. Jim Ward is doing us the honor of opening up the show. Its going to be great.

Photos courtesy of Heriberto Ibarra - FUSION Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


If you could imagine a “sound” coming from the border town of El Paso, Texas, what would it be? You might hear traditional and regional Mexican music blaring out of many car windows as you made your way down I-10 and into historic Downtown.But the sound created by the locals in the Southwest desert mostly ranges in various forms of popular music found on this side of the border.Enter Frontera Bugalu.A collaboration between accordionist/singer Kiko Rodriguez and keyboardist Joel Osvaldo, two longtime veterans of El Paso’s punk, rock and roots scene who wanted to reclaim a little bit of that Tejano music tradition that many El Pasoans seemingly forgot or left behind in the 90s.Founded in 2012 after Rodriguez’s musical project, Fuga! disbanded, Frontera Bugalu was a departure, not only for Rodriguez and Osvaldo, but for El Paso’s music scene itself. While Rodriguez’s and Osvaldo’s former projects were known throughout Texas, New Mexico, California and Mexico for fusing a variety of American, Latin, and Caribbean influences, Frontera Bugalu was created to pay homage to the hybrid form of music that could only have been created along the long border that stretches from Brownsville to El Paso.Frontera Bugalu’s mix of high-energy cumbia -- a favorite among such vintage Texas artists like Fito Olivares and Rigo Tovar -- blended flawlessly with other traditional Mexican and other Latin rhythms have garnered them a loyal following in Texas, New Mexico and the rest of the Southwest. The group has opened for the likes of Calle 13, Santa Cecilia, Celso Pina, Los Lobos, and many others.Rodriguez and Osvaldo have recruited only the best musicians El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, have to offer. The ever-evolving and rotating cast of singers and instrumentalists have produced two original studio albums and are currently working on a third, set to be released in late 2018.With a DIY work ethic born from the El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mex., underground scene and its unique accordion-based music, Frontera Bugalu embodies the new sound of the border, one that embraces both vibrant sides of the Rio Grande and beyond.Music: or on Spotify

Band Members