Rojos Calientes
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Rojos Calientes

Denver, Colorado, United States

Denver, Colorado, United States
Band Folk Bluegrass

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"Latin flair in Rojos Calientes"

By CODY R. OLIVAS
summit daily news

They call it “Latin Grass.”

It's a mixture of bluegrass, Latin flavor and Spanish lyrics. The quick beats and ever-evolving rhythms are also influenced by everything from rock and jazz, swing and folk, Americana, flamenco, gypsy jazz and classical music.

“It's almost a shame to put it in a category because a lot of their sounds don't fit in any category,” Snowflake Studio's Ed Billeaud said.

Billeaud, however, did say the Summit County band, Los Rojos Calientes' — or, “the Red Hots” — first CD, “Corazón,” is “a tremendous work of art.”

The CD begins with “Tantos Años,” a fast-paced tune that was the first song lead singer and guitarist Raul Quintanilla and mandolin player Mike Huberman ever played together.

“I wrote it a long time ago, but then I gave it to Raul; he started playing guitar on it and it changed into a different thing,” Huberman said.

“That's when we started calling it Latin grass,” Quintanilla said.

The two met at an open mic in Summit Cove. Quintanilla, a Peru native, had just moved to Colorado from Montana and wanted to check out the scene. His performance grabbed Huberman's attention.

“I knew right away we had to do something,” Huberman said.

Bassist Ryan Blizzard and viola player Angie Janzen had similar feelings when they first heard the Latin grass. Blizzard saw them performing at the South Park Music Tour with a different band — one that didn't have a bassist — so he contacted them. Then, at another open mic in Frisco, Janzen approached the group. “They were pretty unique with the Latin feel,” Janzen said.

“That's why I love open mics,” Quintanilla said. “That's where you see them in action.”

Now, three years after that first open mic, the band is ready to release its first album: “Corazón.”

“It's named after one of the songs on the CD that more defines our sound,” Blizzard said.

Corazón literally translates in English to “heart,” but in the sense it's used on the CD it means “sweetheart” or “darling.”

Love, relationships and broken hearts are a common theme on the album, but you'll need to speak Spanish to understand the words — about 60 percent of the songs are sung in Spanish. Some of the songs have English lyrics, others are instrumentals and some are sung in no language.

“Improvising with my voice gives me a freedom to express myself without lyrics,” Quintanilla said.

Song lyrics, however, are how Quintanilla learned to speak English. More specifically, the Beatles “Revolver” is what motivated him to learn the new language. “I wanted to learn what they were saying,” he said. Now Quintanilla speaks fluent English, but his Spanish lyrics help separate Los Rojos Calientes from other bands.

The whole band, however, adds bits and pieces to the music to make it what it is.

“When we write new songs, everyone contributes to it,” Janzen said.

“I throw this in, he throws that in; it's the blender effect,” Huberman said. “We had a lot of songs from the first couple months we were together, but our sound definitely evolved a lot.”

Since the band recorded the CD, a Mexican drummer nick-named “Pancho” has joined the band. Percussion, however, is almost entirely absent on the album.

“It really doesn't need it; all of the players are really skilled at adding percussion on their own instruments,” Billeaud said. “I was really impressed with the material they brought.”

“It came out better than I expected,” Blizzard said. “It's definitely something I'm proud of.”

The CD is available at Affordable Music in Dillon, Pika Bagel in Frisco and on the band's website, RojosCaliente.com.

Rojos will have a CD release party at 5 p.m. at Island Grill at Frisco Bay Marina today and at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Gold Pan Saloon.


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BY LESLIE BREFELD
Summit Daily News
August 30, 2007

FRISCO — For Ryan Blizzard of the new Summit County band Rojos Calientes, the meaning of the words his bandmate Raul Quintanilla is singing is not always entirely clear to him. Quintanilla, who hails from Peru, adds the Latin flair to the band with Spanish lyrics and sounds. The three-piece band is rounded out by Mike Huberman on mandolin; Blizzard plays bass and Quintanilla, guitar. They joined up just three months ago.

“Everybody from grandmoms to our next door night who listens to heavy metal is appreciating it, so we thought we should play out more and see what we can do this winter,” Blizzard said.

Rojos Calientes plays the Moose Jaw Saturday at 9:30.


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Q&A WITH ROJOS CALIENTES
From ourstage.com

Every culture on the planet has some sort of musical history dating back centuries and, in some cases, rigorous ceremonial musical displays are still in place today. Yet while it’s great for cultures to stay connected with their past through music, it’s also nice to hear some musical crossover between cultures every now and then. OurStage artist Rojos Calientes does just that. Stemming from Peru to Montana to New Jersey and many places in between, this Colorado act creates a flavor of sound they call “Latingrass,” with influences bridging both sides of the equator. Having played numerous festivals in the West and opened for national touring acts the likes of Elephant Revival and Devotchka, Rojos Calientes seems destined to make an impact in one hemisphere or another. I recently sat down with Raul Quintanilla, Mike Huberman and Ryan Blizzard of the group to further explore the origins of this new sound.

AR: Raul, you’ve experienced a diverse spread of music firsthand. Who were some of your major influences in Peru and Montana?

RQ: I grew up in Peru listening to local music styles like, Huayno, Chicha, Salsa, Cumbia, Creole, Oop, etc., and I used to listen to a lot of classics of the 60’s and 70’s as well, especially the Beatles. In my teenage years I got into “Nueva Trova” —traditional music welded with socio-political lyrics— artist like Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes were in my tape player most of the time, and musicians/bands from Argentina like Leon Gieco and Sui Generis had strong influence in my generation. Months before coming to US a friend of mine got me a CD of Pat Metheny, who became one of my guitar heroes. Once in the US, I was introduced to the Grateful Dead and liked it, I could tell Garcia had strong folk influence, so I started to pay more attention to folk music, especially bluegrass. It was after I saw a concert of Hot Buttered Rum in Bozeman, MT, that I got more into it.

AR: Where do the rest of the band members come from? Influences?

MH: I come from NORTH Jersey, not the dirty south part… grew up listening to jam bands—Phish, Dead. Then I started listening to bluegrass in the last 10 years.

RB: I grew up in South Jersey. My parents (Old Hippies) were constantly listening to music. While most of my friends in school were listening to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog, I was listening to Pink Floyd and the Dead. I went to college in WV. While there I started to get into acoustic music, mostly bluegrass, Americana and folk.

AR: What is Latingrass?

MH: Take bluegrass instrumentation (up-right bass, mandolin, guitar, fiddle), turn the fiddle into a viola, turn the bluegrass guitar into a nylon string classical guitar, then take North American folk styles and throw in South American chord progressions and top with some Spanish lyrics. Throw in a blender and poof.

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AR: Would you say you draw both musical and lyrical influences from South and North America? Or does it lean one way or another?

RQ: Musically it leans towards North American influence since 60% of the band is from the US. Hopefully it will get even with the addition of our new percussionist Pancho who comes from Mexico. Lyrically most of the original material is sung in Spanish.

AR: On OurStage, you describe “Tantos Años” as the song the “started up the Latingrass thing.” Where does the inspiration from this song come from?

RQ: Mike and I met jamming at open mics and one day he came to jam at my place with the song on guitar, played it for me. It had that sad and happy/jumpy feeling in it that I like in songs, which I saw metaphorically as a pillow for the crying I needed to do as I had just lost the girl of my dreams. So I put lyrics to it and something new came up. Memorable time.

MH: Musically it was me trying to write a bluegrass song that was not very bluegrassy.

AR: What’s the musical atmosphere like high up in Rocky Mountains?

RQ: Music rules in Colorado. There are a lot of festivals going on; people always keeping an eye on festivals.

RB: No one is from here. It seems like everyone you meet up here has relocated from some other part of the country. Because of this the musical tastes are very diverse. Everyone is very receptive to all types of music.

AR: Has it been difficult for you guys to lock in without any percussion?

RQ: It was at the beginning, cause of the mix of styles.

MH: I do not think so, acoustic instruments are naturally percussive, in addition we make a conscious effort to fill in were necessary.

RB: Without a percussion player we have all had to be conscious and fill the space. I was surprised to hear how much rhythm Angie creates with the Viola. On recordings you would swear there is a wood scraper or something, but in reality it is just the viola. Since the release of Corazon, we have added a percussionist to the group (Pancho). His drumming is just as diverse as we are.

AR: What’s the general vibe of your shows? Small ypgdlypfuqpb-320x240and laid back or can they get energetic?

RQ: It depends on the place. We are able to spice it up or chill it out as needed.

MH: It really depends on the venue and the crowd. We NEVER make a set list prior to a show. We try to play off the crowd. If it is a small venue and people want to sit and listen we have stuff that is on the chill side but very captivating (even though the atmosphere is mellow there is still a high energy in our performance). On the other hand if we are playing a rowdy bar and people want to dance we can turn it up a notch and BAM! Next thing you know people are hanging off the rafters! Just like our sound, our song catalog is very diverse and our live show reflects that.

AR: What’s next in the works for Rojos Calientes? Any new albums coming out, tour dates?

RQ: We’re trying to do a “Rojos en Vivo” CD with live performances, and I think we have material for the next one too. We are planning on touring soon at least within Colorado, and also working on being in major music festivals. We were very excited that we almost won the OurStage World Channel; it would have brought us the attention that we’re looking for. People are looking for good, fresh music but sometimes is just hard to get noticed.

MH: We have been working on/writing new material for our next album. I would say we have more than half of it ready. We still need a couple more tunes, oh and some money! Playing shows continues, however we would really like to expand were we play by playing more extensively throughout CO and in the not-so-far future venturing out of state! - Summit Daily News


Discography

Rojos Calientes CD "Calentando" , released Sept, 2007

Rojos Calientes "Corazon", released Summer 2009

Photos

Bio


Every culture on the planet has some sort of musical history dating back centuries and, in some cases, rigorous ceremonial musical displays are still in place today. Yet while it’s great for cultures to stay connected with their past through music, it’s also nice to hear some musical crossover between cultures every now and then. The band Rojos Calientes does just that. Stemming from Peru to Montana to New Jersey and many places in between, this Colorado act creates a flavor of sound they call “Latingrass,” with influences bridging both sides of the equator. Having played numerous festivals in the West and opened for national touring acts the likes of Elephant Revival and Devotchka, Rojos Calientes seems destined to make an impact in one hemisphere or another. (Aidan R - ourstage.com)

Raul (Guitar, Vocals) came from Peru to US and spent 4 years in Montana, where he gets familiar with new genres such as Country, Bluegrass and Jam music, looking for more musical challenges moved to Colorado where he meets Mike (Mandolin, vocals) playing open mics and sessions nights at the local bars in Summit County. After playing at the South Park music festival they met Blizzard (Bass) and named the band "Rojos Calientes". The sound of the band draws what we believe is a new tren in music, which we call it LATINGRASS.

In October 2008 a month before going into the studio to record their first album, they met Angie Janzen (Viola, vocals) at another open mic in Frisco. After a brief period of playing out as a four piece the band began crafting their debut album "CORAZON" throughout the winter of 2009. In the summer of 2009 Rojos Calientes added its final member, Francisco "Pancho" Saldaña (Percussion) providing the perfect mix of Latin beats and rhythms to fill out the sound. Rojos Calientes is currently playing across the state of Colorado and has plans to venture out of state in the summer of 2010.
Influences range from Peruvian and south american folky music (Raul's side) to bluegrass, country americana, rock, Jam and more (the Gringo's side).
Early achievements of the band are:
#1 in the World Category (OurStage.com - Sept, 2007).
Opening Show for Devotchka, october 2007 at the Filmore auditorium in Denver.
Rojos Calientes has shared the stage also with Abalone Dots, Trampled by Turtles, Vince Herman’s Great American Taxi, and Elephant Revival.

"Rojos Calientes spicin' up the Rocky Mountains".
www.myspace.com/rojoscalientes