Radio La Chusma
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Radio La Chusma

El Paso, Texas, United States

El Paso, Texas, United States
Band Latin Reggae

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Volume 10, No. 41 July 15-21, 2009






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Best Local Original Band
Radio La Chusma

Radio La Chusma, an El Paso band that blends rock, reggae and traditional Mexican music, earned this honor through excellence, plain and simple. It's an excellence shaped by hard work - gig by gig, session after session, note for hard-won note. After years as one of El Paso's highest-profile original bands, drawing crowds in ways that only cover bands previously had, La Chusma hit its stride in the past year. The band broke an attendance record for a local act at Music Under the Stars, attracting 13,000 last year. They played South By Southwest, wowing the Austinfolk. They recorded a track with reggae legend Pato Banton. And they live the message of community found in their music, through friendships with like-minded bands like Mexicans at Night and FUGA!, through collaborations with local filmmakers and through gigs at local fests celebrating Chuco culture. Then there's the music: life-affirming, roots-reaching, soul-igniting. Their follow-up to 2007's “91.5 MexM,” out later this year, can only take them higher.

Runners-up:
2. Bajo Zero
3. Liquid Cheese

Other Nominees
o B.J. Pando
o Bash the Band
o Brilliant Mistake
o Cantina Flys
o Cd and the Reds
o Cigarettes After Sex
o Dan Lambert and L Trio
o Drunk Again
o Exit 116
o Exito
o Fixed Idea
o Hot Rod Boogie
o Jayden's Playground
o Julio Ortiz
o Lylah
o Low Luster League
o Mexicans at Night
o Miranda Burning
o Prime
o Ralpheene
o ROME TO PARIS
o Strings of Atlas
o The Kirk
o The Lusitania
o The Royalty

Comments or questions about this story? E-mail Secret@whatsuppub.com

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- Whats Up!


"Interview by Convivted Artists"

Radio La Chusma



Instrumentation:

Ernie Ernesto Tinajero- Guitar/Vocals/Percussion

Charlie Villanueva - Bass/Vocals

Scott Marestein - Drums/Vocals

Selina Nevarez - Vocals

David Angerstein - Violin/Vocals

Scoop - Lead Guitar/Vocals



Influences Iba Olodumare, Ometeotl, God All-mighty, the Four directions, the ones that come before us, Artists who do God's work, El Chuco Town, Bob Marley, Fabulosos Cadillacs, Manu Chau, Yerba Buena, King Chango, Maldita Vecindad, Celso Pina, Los Lobos, our familias, and all the talented musicians we share a stage with.
Sounds Like Afro-Mexica/ Reggae-Cumbia. Strait from El Chuco, the Heart of Aztlan. The call of the ancient ones coming back to declare a new day for the people. Tuning into the transmission of our DNA. Let us wake up to the new frequency, the new vibration, a collective consciousness that will get us through this time of difficult change. The coming together of the African, Mexica, and American Cultures celebrated with high energy beats and uplifting vocals. RASTA-MEXICA! BRINCA! BRINCA!




Interview

By. C.A

CA: Please introduce yourselves, who sings and who plays what intruments in Radio La Chusma?


LA CHUSMA: My name is Ernesto Tinajero,Radio La Chusma originator, singer-songwriter, acoustic guitar, and percussion. Hi, I’m Charlie Villanueva, I play bass and I book for the band. Scott “muthafukin’ on drums” Marestein on drums. Selina Nevarez, vocals and percussion. David Angerstein violin and vocals. And last but not least: Scoop Valdez on lead guitar.




CA: How did you all get such a unique name for your band?



LA CHUSMA: It was gonna be Chuco Radio, but we wanted to touch a larger audience.
Radio La Chusma( riff-raff radio) is the sound of the underground culture, an alternative to mainstream thinking. "Chusma" a once negative term reffering to the poor by the aristocrates, made a comic punchline by 'Chavo Del Ocho", has been adopted to unite the youth who seek the truth and search for a true connection in these disconnected times.




C.A: Which bands and musicians do you most admire?


LA CHUSMA:Bob Marley Santana, Los Lobos, The Beatles, James Brown, Toots and the Maytals, Manu Chau, Ozomatli, and all Mexican music; mariachi, cumbia, corridos, boleros...




C.A What kind of effect did your favorite bands have on Radio La Chusma?



LA CHUSMA: Everything that enters our ears effect Radio La Chusma. A lot of our heros influence us in many ways beside musically. More in an inspirational sense, these artists show us it can be done. They show us that a group from the U.S./ Mexican border does have a chance to share their view on life, to touch people all around the world. Santana and Los Lobos mixed rock and latin music which opened a door for bands like Ozomatli, B-Side Players, Yerba Buena and R.L.C.; Bob Marley (the Master) strongly influences my words and my sound, I admire him for bringing his culture and spirituallity to the stage and exposing his heart to the world; James Brown and Toots, went balls out on stage with their gospelesqe vocals that take any crowd strait to church. Manu Chau lets me know that we can be doing that all around the world.




C.A:You guys have an interesting album cover. What exactly does the Mayan pyramid tower image on your 91.5 MexM album cover represent?



LA CHUSMA: Well, it represents the transmission and communication of our ancient culture. Cuactemoc told us its o.k. to practice our sacred ways again. Tune into the frequency of nature. The youth, especially the Chicanos, need to explore themselves, question the history that was tought to us, and figure out how to utilize the knowlege of our ancestors with todays situations. This album is only a window, it’s up to the listener to connect with the past, present and future and feel proud to be of this Earth. The ancients had technologies and concepts that boggle scientists today, most of which was destroyed by the conquest. We need to rise up and learn, open up and listen to the ancient whispers, don’t be stuck on just one frequency.





C.A.Tell me about your 'Travel Wide' song, it's awsome.

LA CHUSMA:Taken from a verse in Bob Marley's 'Soul Rebel', Travel Wide speaks of the innate urge for one to leave the nest, leave the hometown and go on a journey, follow the wind, and be their own person. Our spirit longs to be free, not stuck in a 9-5. Everyone gets the call, only a few will answer it.




C.A:Whats your secret in keeping your band together?

LA CHUSMA: We all believe in the music, and we know this is where we want to be. We laugh a lot, and try not to let things build up.




C.A: Do you think you've accomplished what you set out to accomplish as a band, or do you feel like you're still working towards that?

LA CHUSMA: Always working. We give any headiner a run for their money. No rest until we're selling out stadiums. Let's put El C - www.convictedartists.com


"Dreaming of a Sunday Evening at the Chamizal: Radio La Chusma the El Paso Sound"

Sunday night started off a little slow, maybe because it was the earliest I’d managed to show up at the Chamizal this summer. Maybe it was because I’d stayed up way too late on Saturday night but went to 10 a.m. Mass anyway, with never a moment for nap in between. I’d been looking forward to this concert, but couldn’t quite get myself to settle into it. The sunshine had a hard edge; menacing clouds hanging off the eastern slopes of the Franklins threatened an early end to the concert. The band started off their set in minor keys. They seemed tentative, nervous. The sound was muddy through the PA. I’d only had one beer. It was hard to dance.

Excuses set in.

One of the first songs the band played was “Seven Directions” off their "91.5 MexFm" record. (Don’t hold me to the exact details of this. Remember, I was trying to dance and drink beer, not take notes.) At the time it felt like a poor choice to lead off with. The song has a meditative feel, inward looking. Not a good number to get the crowds off their lawn chairs and blankets. The dance floor was sparsely populated.

In retrospect it seemed a good way for Radio La Chusma to introduce themselves to the crowd. The song is a tribute to our ancestors, a thanks for putting us here, or there, in the Chamizal on a beautiful Sunday evening with the sun slipping into twilight and a flirtatious bank of clouds draped off the rugged right shoulder of the Franklins. A good band setting the mood with minor keys. The dancing gets easier. We had more neighbors on the dance floor.

Radio La Chusma is, unabashedly, a band that is proud of its roots. You can see this on the cover of "91.5 MexFm": it features an FM radio tower broadcasting from the top on an Aztec temple. The band stands proudly on the shoulders of giants.

And this gets to the root of the packed lawn at the Chamizal that night. It was a good crowd. Over here, the skinny hipsters in their Mick Jagger jeans, nursing the 30-pack of Bud Light. Over there, a gay couple on a blanket, hugging the way you would hope people would feel comfortable hugging their loved one. Down there, some old folks from down the block. Families everywhere. Featuring generations from Benny Goodman to Beck.

Everyone enjoying the same band.

How does that happen?

The band seemed relieved at the traditional 15-minute Chamizal set break. I was too. We wandered back to our blanket squat off stage right. Everyone took their breath.

El Paso has a unique ability to find brotherhood in music. There is an El Paso Sound, a musical common denominator that unites the city. The city has a peculiar nostalgia—as it stands at a crossroads on the border—for the musics of the U.S. and Mexico. That nostalgia finds its expression in the music played early in the career of one Steve Crosno. Crosno managed to recognize that people in El Paso wanted to hear a mixture of blues, norteño, pop and carribean music. El Paso being the place where all those different sounds jumble up together. So he created a unique playlist of doo-wop and early rock’n’roll that took the region by storm. Other deejays had a hand in this too; you can still find some that practice the art form in El Paso. When I was a teenager, I listened to the KBUENA’s Oldies Show on Sundays for my fix. But lately their play lists seem mechanical. I prefer the adept deejaying of Mike Guerrero on his Sunday afternoon “Fox Jukebox” show on 92.3. The El Paso Sound, like Mass, is most frequently practiced on Sundays.

El Paso relies on this music as a cultural touchstone.

And that’s the genius of La Chusma. Knowing that touchstone, but finding their own thing to add to it. Something entirely new, yet familiar.

Things looked up when the band started its second set. I ate the burrito I brought for dinner. Had another beer. The band moved into the serious dance numbers now. “Keep Movin’.” “Get Lively.” “We Sing.”

The concrete dance floor hit capacity. Then hit it again. And again.

Things got sweaty.

And then, Ernie Tinajero—the band’s singer and driving force—stepped away from the mike and turned things over to vocalist Selina Nevarez and fiddle player David Angerstein for the perfect El Paso medley: the Penguin’s doo-wop classic “Earth Angel” and James Brown’s “Try Me”. (The band also features Charlie Villanueva holding down the bass, Scott Marestein on drums, Scoop on lead guitar, and a recently added percussion player from Colombia.) Perfect because they were songs that the old folks knew. Perfect because the skinny kids stayed on the dance floor. Perfect because it was the El Paso Sound.

And especially perfect for the songs they set up. They followed the medley with the “Wooly-Bully” inspired “Cruisin,” featuring the crowd on the chorus: “Down Alameda / Down La Montana / Down el Paisano / Siempre el verano / We go cruisin…”

The crowd was ecstatic, pushing the band for more and more. Until finally the set was finished and the band left the stage for an ob - by John Byrd


"Radio La Chusma throw live vibe on new disc"

Radio La Chusma throw live vibe on disc
By Joe Velarde

In six months' time, local reggae-rock-cumbia favorites Radio La Chusma have created a cross-genre collision of style, sound and flavor in their latest album, "91.5 MexM."

The band will celebrate its efforts Feb. 10 with a CD release party at Blu, alongside local underground hip-hop group Metratron, Las Cruces ska band Liquid Cheese and the night's MC, poet Griselda "La Rana" Muñoz.

There's much in store, say both RLC bassist Charlie Villanueva and singer-songwriter Ernesto Tinajero. Supporting the band on stage will be members of Liquid Cheese, Gary Ocon (percussionist for the band Slightly Stoopid), and well-known local guitarist Adrian Esparza.

"When you have 12 musicians on the same stage at one time with that level of energy, you never know what's going to happen," Tinajero says.

The band will also be shooting a music video for their first single "Cruisn" at the show.

If you're familiar with Radio La Chusma's work, you'll be happy to know that according to Tinajero, the vibe and energy that the band's known for in their live show has translated well onto their new album.

"It's the energy from the musicians to the audience that touches people," Tinajero says. "As far as putting it on an album, we really had to sit down and work hard. We found that it was the little things that stick out, like putting a tambourine here or a shaker there. That's what makes the difference."

While this isn't the band's first album – they have two previous releases – Tinajero says that this effort is particularly special. Whereas the first Chusma album, "Sonido De La Gente," was more of a musical experiment, "91.5 MexM" is a labor of love.

"The music has evolved 100 percent, like night and day," Tinajero says. "Each song has something special to offer, a different twist, a different sound."

The band is well known for its community involvement; Villanueva explains that as an art form, music and the arts provide a platform for expression and thought. While the band's music doesn't present a staunch political stance, it does tend toward active and progressive messages.

"Our message comes through our music, which is why we let the music draw them in," he says.

The band has participated in such events as the march against H.R. 4437, an immigration reform bill introduced to the U.S. House last term that many in the community felt was anti-immigration.

This form of activism comes naturally for them, and according to Tinajero, the lyrics and the vibe of their music transcends politics.

"The spirituality that exists through the song crosses the walls of politics," Tinajero said.

As for the vibe of their live show, the band – who at one time would jokingly refer to themselves as being "the brown sound from Chuco town" – enjoys making a connection with the audience. If anything, Tinajero describes this vibe as being something of a journey with no map.

"We like to see how it's going with the crowd and just take it from there – see where it goes," Tinajero said.

On their album, RLC has created something of a musical blending of style, culture and rhythm. To them, there is no such thing as genre.

"It's a collective work of what we all love," Villanueva said. "There is no genre. It's feel good music. Just dance like you danced when you were four."

"This album represents all of El Paso and Juarez," Tinajero said. "This is our way of letting everyone know how beautiful it is here."


- What's Up E.P.Tx


"Listening Booth Review"

---------------------------------
After picking up some new sounds at Wax, I dropped by Ya Ya's to say hello to my good friend Val. She just happened to have a newly-delivered stack of Radio La Chusma's new CD, "91.5 MexM," and I just had to buy a copy.

As I've said before, Radio La Chusma is probably one of the city's best bands. Period. They have a tremendous live show and their songs are just so infectious and danceable, it can be easy to forget the social message behind the Latin- and reggae-infused music. However, you never do.

The album's first track, the Spanish-language "Adelante," immediately wakes you up, with their command to "muevele", from any doldrums you may have been experiencing while popping the disc into your CD player. By listening to the whole disc, from "Get Lively" to "Cumbia de Maracumbe," you can't help but dance wherever you might be sitting or standing. My favorite song happens to be "Cruisin'", when singer Ernesto Tinajero reminisces about cruising in his two-tone Chevy through Alameda, Montana and Paisano in the summertime, against a ska-like beat.

For info on how to get your own copy of "91.5 MexM," just visit Ya Ya's on Stanton Street near Cincinnati, or go to www.radiolachusma.com.

- elpasotimes.com


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Radio la Chusma and their border-world-beat sound are quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon in the American Southwest.  A funky mix of traditional roots reggae infused with Mesoamerican Afro-beats, this high energy group seamlessly breaks down cultural, artistic and even political barriers using highly danceable music tied to their borderland as melting-pot mantra. Featuring four-part vocal harmonies and electrifying vocal, solos, Radio La Chusma has been inspiring crowds for the past ten years. Radio La Chusma is currently performing over one hundred shows a year(120, out of town-50) and has strong followings in El Paso, Juarez, San Diego, Santa Fe, Taos, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Austin.  

AWARDS/ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Voted Best Local Band, El Paso Inside & Out Magazine 2007 - 2008 - 2009 

Best Band – What’s Up Magazine
2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012

RLC has played with The Doobie Brothers, WAR, Steel Pulse, The Itals, The Wailing Souls,  Jaguares, Grupo Fantasm0, Camila, El Gran Silencio, Maldita Vecindad, Little Joe y La Familia, Pato Banton, and Slightly Stoopid, The Melodians, Ozomatli to name a few.      

Online Facts:Radio La Chusma’s music has also been heard on online radio stations based out of the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany and Japan; almost 100,000 song plays and over 100,000 profile views on MySpace; over 23 pages of articles, photos, and events on Google Search; and over 30 videos on YouTube.Radio La Chusma is registered with BMI Music Group. 

Radio La Chusma( riff-raff radio) is the sound of the underground culture, an alternative to mainstream thinking. "Chusma" a once negative term referring to the poor by the aristocrats, made a comic punch line by 'Chavo Del Ocho", has been adopted to unite the youth who seek the truth and search for a true connection in these disconnected times.   (Convicted Artists Interview)

"Very rarely does a band come along that combines excellent musicianship, compelling stage presence, and music that ensures a good time, with lyrics with meaning. Congratulations, Radio La Chusma, you are truly in an elite class!"   Jack Orbin (President of Stone City Attractions, Inc.)

"Un grupo que se proyecta con muy buenas pespertiva para el futuro. Tienen ritmo, bien acoplado y saben lo que estan haciendo." Lazaro Megret (Live Nation)

“Radio La Chusma rocks hard. It is a polyglot collective that plays rock reggae Afrobeat cumbia music. The members are fiercely paseño. Led by dreadlocked prophet Ernie Tinajero, they preach border love and Chuco-Rasta uplift…He dances his guitar around, high stepping like a wizardly sex tarantula.”

Band Members