Los Cenzontles – Regeneration

[audio:http://splintersandcandy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/01-Adios-California.mp3|artists=Los Cenzontles|titles=Adios California]

Los Cenzontles – “Adios California”

There is a diverse music scene developing in San Pablo, California. Eugene Rodriguez, a third-generation Mexican-American, built the nonprofit Los Cenzontles Mexican Art Center in an old liquor store in San Pablo, a town in the East Bay of the San Francisco area. It’s been transformed into a positive space that teaches music, dance, arts and crafts to thousands of kids. The children get to experience anything from recording CDs to filming documentaries. This talented ensemble call themselves Los Cenzontles (“The Mockingbirds”) and they have just released a new CD entitled Regeneration. The floating group, led by Eugene Rodriguez since 1989, plays a blend of traditional Mexican music mixed with folk, blues and psychedelic rock, with lyrics sung in Spanish and English.

“In the larger context of music, there’s always tension between the old and new, and we were playing with that tension on Regeneration. Music develops in reaction to previous sounds, in a way that’s raw, intense, urgent. You can hear it in Mexican traditional music, or in genres like banda. That, to me is the essence of that revolution of spirit, like the heyday of rock or the punk movement.” – Eugene Rodriguez

The family-like atmosphere of Los Cenzontles Mexican Art Center brings out the best in the teachers and the students, where they share stories and home-cooked meals together in between recording sessions. Rodriguez committed himself to spreading his passion for traditional music with a younger generation and letting them know they should be proud of their Mexican roots. “Growing up Mexican American in the 70s was to be largely invisible in the mainstream. We hardly existed,” relates Rodriguez. His project has restored a great sense of pride to the aspiring Mexican-American community of San Pablo.

The two female lead singers of Los Cenzontles, Lucina Rodriguez and Fabiola Trujillo, shine all over Regeneration. Their harmony on “Adios California,” featured above, is sensational. This track sets the album in motion with a rapid ranchera meets norteño ballad. The young musicians are the stars of the record, but there are plenty of guests on the album as well. David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Jackson Browne, Linda Rondstadt, Elvin Bishop, Pete Sears and Raul Malo are just some of the musicians who lend a hand. Feel free to listen to a few tracks from the album on soundcloud and look out for Regeneration at a record store near you. Watch their video for “The Silence” (featuring Jackson Browne and David Hidalgo) below or on vimeo.

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