Santa Lucia LFR
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Santa Lucia LFR

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band Rock Latin


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"Santa Lucia LFR at Victoria Jazz Festival"

Victoria Jazz Fest began on Friday night with the Santa Lucia LFR show at the Victoria Event Centre. In case you haven’t worked it out the LFR stands for Latin/Funk/Rock, which is a pretty good summary of what this group is all about! Although it took a few songs to get Victorians out of their chairs, once folks were up they abandoned their seats in favour of a boogie. The sax player Byron “Russellfunk” Russell even took to the floor himself in a bid to kick off a dance competition to win a CD. Although the men shyed away from Byron – the ladies took a liking his charming and seriously funky dance moves!

This great clip from Shaw TV gives a brief introduction to the band with founding members, guitarist and vocalist German Cantillo and alto sax man of funk Byron Russell.

Presuming you watched the video…. you get the picture, this is no ordinary group of musicians! In fact these guys are a great model for how more people should work – by spreading awareness and making a difference doing something you love! - Son de la Isla

"Let The Music Guide You"

Global grooves Santa Lucia LFR fuses elements of Latin music with funk, rock and much more to create infectious grooves.
Feb 16, 2011 1:57pm
Let the music guide you
Santa Lucia LFR shines some light on non-traditional Latin Funk Rock; heading for the stage in Squamish as part
of the SERF indoor concert series
By Holly Fraughton Pique Magazine, Whistler, BC.
Santa Lucia LFR has been spicing up Vancouver's music scene since 2001 with its huge horns and bass, funky
breaks, polyrhythmic beats and bilingual lyrical content. Their lineup has branched organically from the original
four-piece crew, with a few new people (and their respective instruments) incorporated into the group over the
years. Today, their seven-piece musical roster includes German Cantillo on vocals and guitar, Byron Russell on
alto sax, Ryan Conroy on bass, Brad Muirhead on trombone, Chiko Misomali manning the drums, Colin Maskell
on tenor sax, Juan Carlos "Chocolate" Gonzales on Latin percussion and Miguelito Valdes on trumpet.
"Normally, it's about seven or eight people, it depends. We normally play festivals, and I can bring the whole
band, but on smaller gigs, we go down to six, which is still a large number, when it comes to a band."
"Usually, the drummers are the ones that come and go," Cantillo reflected, "But Chiko has been with us for quite
a bit, too, so again, it's one of those things that you actually never know who you're going to meet and what
they're going to be like with the band!"
"We have fun doing it and we all get along," he laughed, "That helps a lot, I tell you!"
With so many cooks in the kitchen, it's really no surprise that there is a range of flavour thrown into the musical
"It does play a part in it," he paused, "I have two Cuban guys, and myself - I'm Nicaraguan - so you have the
Latin American side of the band. And then Byron, Brad, the brass guys are all Canadian guys, and Chico comes
from Malawi via Scotland, actually."
Gee, their bio was pretty on-point when it described them as "a multi-ethnic gathering of friends." While their
backgrounds may be diverse, they share a love for Latin funk.
"The guys like the Latin stuff, because some of the horn players, they play in other Latin bands; not on a regular
basis, but they've been exposed to that. So when I presented the concept, saying, 'Okay, this is a nontraditional
Latin band; traditional in a way that it's large,'" he laughed, "'but the music itself is not going to be!'"
Rather, Cantillo wanted to mix funk and rock fusion with the Latin influences, plus some Nuyorican Boogaloo,
West Coast funk and Cuban grooves, of course.
"It kind of brings a unique blend," he said.
See, Cantillo had been playing on Vancouver's music scene, but most of the groups he was playing with were
just doing Latin covers, and he wanted to be writing and performing original material.
"So I started meeting people, and I met Byron and I said, 'Hey, I've got this project, would you be interested?'
and right off the bat, 'Absolutely, man!'"
And while Cantillo writes most of the music, once he brings it to the band members, the songs are often
changed quite dramatically.
"Each of them, they have their own quality and originality as a player, so that kind of changes the dynamics of
And there's quite a history behind the name of the band, as well.
"Nicaragua in the late '70s experienced a revolution, with the communist party coming into power," Cantillo
explained, "...The Russians actually came and settled, so everything was like Cuba, now! Actually, Nicaragua is
only the second country in Latin America that has ever gone through a revolution."
As a small child, Cantillo fled the country with his parents, first landing in Venezuela, and eventually ending up in
"It was only him and me before my mom came out, and we used to go to this church and I noticed this little
statute of Santa Lucia, which is the patron saint of light, right? It was kind of odd that it was stuck in this dark
corner, but I got a picture of that little statute that I took years ago, and I kept it with me, I don't know why."
They eventually moved to the United States before immigrating to Canada. Many years later, when Cantillo
decided to start his own band, he drew inspiration from this powerful photograph from his childhood.
"It's kind of believing in something, so I thought, 'Let's call it Santa Lucia; maybe the music can guide us, and
give us some light!'"
Their latest full-length album, "Suppressed Anthems," which was just released last October, is a project that is
designed to do just that: shed light on some very important issues. As Cantillo explains it, it's a project that
contains some powerful lyrical content.
"They are a bit more aggressive, in terms of social reach and social message," Cantillo admitted, "I guess it was
thinking in a more social way, around the Olympics, that all this stuff was happening around homelessness and
"To me, coming from a poor country - I've seen it, right? We're kind of used to it! But here, you see the wealth
and how Canada is looked upon abroad, and then you're here and you see all this stuff, and that inspired me to
write social stuff."
While the subject matter may be more serious on this album, you can expect the same upbeat overall feel that
was on their last album, "The Streets/Las Calles."
On top of their recordings, Santa Lucia LFR seems to be all about the live shows, with festival gigs being a
specialty of theirs: they've graced the stage at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Dragon
Boat Festival, and loads of out of town festivals (including The Ness Creek Music Festival in Saskatchewan, Folk
on the Rocks Festival in Yellowknife and the Victoria Ska Festival).
They've also spent a considerable amount of time on the road, touring with groups like Ozomatli, Yerba Buena,
Los Mococos, The Skatalites and Maxi Priest.
Next up, Santa Lucia LFR is set to headline the second in a series of indoor concerts for SERF this Friday evening
at the Ocean Port Hotel. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $12 at the door. For more information, visit - Pique Magazine Whistler

"Suppressed Anthems cd review"

By Stuart Derdeyn Thu, Nov 4 2010 COMMENTS(0) Quick Spins
The second full CD from Vancouver's purveyors of LFR - Latin funk rock - shows a lot of development from its debut. For one thing, the core membership now numbers nine. With four horns, two percussionists and more confident and searing guitar work from leader German Castillo. There is also more stylistic variety found in the 11 tracks. The opener "Mozambique" is a full on rocker while "War" is a funked up ska type track. The lyrics are political and fairly angry, putting the band in the same company as Ozomatli and others. Grade: B- - The Vancouver Province

"The fiery Latin grooves of Santa Lucia"

Rock en Español, Latin funk, monstrous horns and Cuban beats are the southern sound fusions created by Vancouver-based Santa Lucia, a seven piece salsa-funk band performing at the Howe Sound Brew Pub, Saturday night (March 11).
Since the release of their first CD The Streets/Las Calles six solid years of intensive songwriting and a few changes in membership, Santa Lucia is setting off on several mini-tours and visiting Squamish for their first time.
“We’re lika a traditional Latin band in the sense that we have Latin percussion like congas, bongos, timbales and cowbells,” said guitarist and singer German Cantillo adding that the band also features a standard drummer, bass player, trombone, sax and trumpet.
“We try to infuse a little West Coast style by adding different bass-lines than Latin traditional outfits and combine other styles that originated in the seventies like boogaloo.”
Their songs have been compare to Santana, War and Chakachas to name a few and although Cantillo admits that their genre is difficult to pigeon-hole, he assures that “people just get into it” and that wallflowers will be driven to get up out of their seats and dance.
Born in Nicaragua, a country always related to Sandinistas, revolution and struggle-based lyrics, something that strongly reflects the new album, Cantillo lived on a political asylum status in Latin America and the United States for much of his youth, before landing in Canada a place to call home., Winnipeg precisely he began touring with Winnipeg’s biggest cumbia rock band Sanzibar, but always envisioned a band with a different and explosive flavour.
Cantillo then moved to Vancouver and joined Latin-style acts like BC Salsa, Vallarta and El Combito where he met Mario Zetina, who became Santa Lucia’s main percussionist.
Still not satisfied with the sound, he forged Santa Lucia with long time friend and saxophone player Byron Russell, an opportunity to create music that Cantillo said is certainly a new sound for Canada but popular in the United States.

By Hiedi Vanlith - The Squamish Chief Newspaper

"Santa Lucia LFR comes to the Island!"

Certain musics are meant to be listened to at certain temperatures.Quiet, introspective folk for the autumn; boisterous pop in the enlivening spring. But anything even slightly funky, especially when it comes with Latin tinges, just screams to be enjoyed when summer is in full swing.
Last week’s rain may have made it seem like summer is still a ways off, but that sticky, moist warmth is even more fitting for Santa Lucia’s dense groove. Pack the sextet on-stage at a nightclub and you’ve got a recipe for hotness.
The songs on Santa Lucia’s recent release are balanced between vocal tracks and horny instrumental tracks with plenty of room for you to shout out “muy caliente!” as you bump up against the other dancing body. - Bill Stuart

"Now this is exciting music."

Arterciopelados, Cafe Tacuba, Fabulosos Cadillacs, Mana and Manu Chao.

None are household names here. Drive a few hours south to Seattle and these acts sell out stadiums. In the enormous rock en Español (Rock in Spanish), they are multi-platinum chart-toppers.

Curiously, this worldwide music phenomenon mostly passed us by in terms of both tours and influencing local combos.

This week's release of Santa Lucia LFR's The Streets/Las Calles (Grade: A-) changes that. Arguably the first local rock en Español CD, the nine-piece crew's debut marks six years of serious effort for founder/leader German Cantillo.

"The LFR signifies Latin-Funk-Rock, which is what we play," says Cantillo. "The biggest part of what makes it different from average North American rock is all the Latin-style percussion."

"The timbales, congas, bongos and cowbells bring a whole new dimension to the funk, especially when you add on the horns," says Byron Russell, the Kyokushin karate expert who enforces the saxophone chops in the group.

Born in Nicaragua, Cantillo left his homeland with his father in '83. They lived in Mexico, San Francisco, Winnipeg and moved to Vancouver in '91. Along the way, he soaked up a wide variety of sounds and styles. At one point, he began criss-crossing Canada with the cumbia band Sanzibar before hitting VanCity and playing in all three major Latin Bands in the city.

There was always a pull to play something that mixed it up more.
"I bet if I'd grown up in a Latin-American country, my music would have been a much deeper traditional style. But I wanted rock, funk and the same thing that I grew up with," says Cantillo. "Latin rock was exploding in the United States and I thought, 'why not?'"

And so, Santa Lucia was born. When Russell -- always ready to do something new and exciting -- came onboard, things really got rolling. A five-song EP recorded with Darryl Neudorf (Sarah McLachlan, Neko Case) came out in '01. The Streets/Las Calles was recorded at White Rock's Turtle Studios with Larry Anchell (Nickelback, Pearl Jam). It sounds ace.

"It has this Latin sound but I find it's very easy to get into and to naturally get people excited about," says Russell.

No doubt. With its big brass section blaring and a salsa-funk rhythm that brings early Santana to mind, songs such as "Lupita" could make a wallflower start bustin' moves. For this album, Santa Lucia left the syrup at home and only brought the hot sauce.

"Locally, there isn't too much going on like this," says Russell. "That can work for and against you. How do you market yourself?
"Everything that comes from the States that seems similar -- Ozomatli, Yerba Buena, etc. -- we go after the opening spot aggressively," says Cantillo. "When things work, it doesn't take long for us to get people up and going."

Taking what's open for now, the group performs its release this week but has become something of a regular show at the increasingly cool Malone's at 608 W. Pender. The band played the venue on New Year's Eve and is skedded to return shortly. It records a CBC studio session on Feb. 26.
- The Vancouver Province

"Its for drinking and dancing!"

Food, wine and a funked-up Santa Lucia at one easy venue.

If you take the best food, wine, music and dance put together,you’d wind up with Spanish Fiesta. If you take it a step further, you’d hold the fiesta in a funky art gallery where thr rich, fir floors are perfect for dancing. Then you’d throw in a DJ so the party last until morning.
And if you’re lucky, you’ll have the next day off.
Spanish Fiesta is the brainchild of Promoter and booking agent Jeff Turner and Gallery-O owner Sergio Patrich.
Patrich makes a killer paella and turner has a touch for music; he recently started working with that wicked Latin-funk-rock band Santa Lucia. But why stop there?. They invited Nathalie La Chispa to bring her fusion of traditional flamenco dance and Middle Eastern rhythms to add some spice to the mix. La chispa teaches dance and performs regularly and has the bragging rights to changing women’s lives.
“I feel and see how they glow after my classes. I have a lot of women who have regular jobs, nine-to-five, and they don’t follow their hearts. They take a dance class to escape and find that they can open up and let go and express something inside”.
And if that doesn’t give you the urge to groove, the funk-rock sounds of Santa Lucia will. The band has been riding a sweet wave of popularity for the past few years.
Santa Lucia’s percussionist Mario Zetina says the band just played in Yellowknife and the fans “went crazy” in a good way.
“They didn’t want us to go – they love it” he says.
It’s what happens when this band hits the floor and plays, but Zetina puts it best: “ Latin music is for drinking and dancing.”

By Lynn Mitges
The Vancouver Province
- The Vancouver Province


2001 5 songs EP with producer Darryl Neudorft (Sarah McLachlan, Neko Case)

2003 Released “Lupita” as a single with producer Larry Anschell (Nickelback)

2004 Collaborated for Cartoon TV show “Cackleberries (nominated for best children recording in 2005 from the Western Canada Music Awards)

2006 Album released “The Streets/Las Calles” with producer Larry Anschell (Pearl Jam, Sum 41, Alice in Chains)

2009 released singles EP "Politics of Homelessness" and "Guantanamo"

2010 Santa Lucia released their third full length album “Suppressed Anthems” a blend of horn driven music anthems with a social conscience.



Like a multi-ethnic gathering of friends, this seven member band has created a sound that evokes the early days of Latin Funk (Santana, War, etc.), while adding their own blend of Rock and Funk grooves. This addictive combination of Nuyorican Boogaloo, West Coast Funk and the ever present Cuban grooves engulfs the stage with monstrous horns and bass, funky breaks, polyrhythmic beats and furious lyrics in English and Spanish.

In 2001, Santa Lucia recorded their first album with producer Darryl Nuedorf (Sarah McLachlan, Neko Case). Officially making the band the first Rock en Español album produced in Western Canada.

2005 brought a Western Canada Music Awards nomination as a side project for Best Children’s Recording, for the song “The Hero Inside” (2004) penned for the TV cartoon series Cackleberries.

In 2006, Santa Lucia released their second full length album, “The Streets / Las Calles” with legendary producer Larry Anschell (Nickelback, Pearl Jam) from Turtle Recording Studios in White Rock, BC Canada. Santa Lucia successfully supported “The Streets / Las Calles” in 2007-2008 with countless west coast dates and major open air festivals including; Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival, as well as many out of town festivals including The Ness Creek Music Festival in Saskatchewan, Folk on the Rocks Festival in Yellowknife NWT, Victoria Ska Festival and many more.

CBC Radio gave the first single “Lupita” heavy rotation, with the band performing a live show across Canada hosted by one of Canada’s best known news personalities Gloria Makarenko and “On the Coast” radio host Prya Ramu.

Recently, Santa Lucia LFR has refined its stage skills opening for many USA and International touring acts such as Ozomatli, Yerba Buena, Los Mococos, The Skatalites, Maxi Priest and Israel's Hadag Nahash

2011 Santa Lucia released their third full length album “Suppressed Anthems” a blend of horn driven music anthems with a social conscience, Unique Latin sensibilities with plenty of rock, a shot of salsa, a shed-load of funk, and some high-speed Colombian cumbia..” Latin revolutionary sloganeering, environmental concerns, global politics and clenched-fist leftist anthems all bounce over the bands leftist grooves, bringing with it countless tour dates with bigger audiences and greater following of loyal fans.