Grand Performances Breaks and Repairs the Heart
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Last Saturday, Grand Performances' evening program was billed as a "tounge-in-cheek dance party" through the diverse Latin American musical cultures found in L.A, but clearly Mr. Vallenato, La Santa Cecilia, and Mentiritas put impassioned commitment to the music before the humor.
Mr. Vallenato, aka Jorge Villarreal, led the night with an accordion frenzy befitting Jimi Hendrix. At times one wondered whether Villarreal would light his instrument on fire at the end of the set.
When saying Hendrix, it doesn't imply he translated traditional sounds to become rock and roll; rather, he squeezed emotions out of cumbias with so much force, he faced the Downtown heavens as his layers of Columbian rhythms touched the sky.
Then the Watercourt crowd was eased into seduction by La Danta Cecila's La Marisoul as she belted out her still innocent Diva heart with one part performance art and another part alternative chola-norteno-cumbia-jazz. Future releases in English -- they are currently working on their first release -- would confirm the groups defiance to be limited by musical genre labels. The group may want to make room in future calendars when they are eligible to be considered as a best new artist for varied awards. Still, for La Marisoul, awards are less important than knowing if her lover is being true to her.
Ending the night was OZOMATLI's Wil-Dog Abers fronting Mentiritas in the guise of Perrito. The persona is an over-the-top banda singer whose macho back is covered by a panther on a white jacket, and bandmates who go by the the names Ulassass, Tripas, Walnutz, Antonmynutz, Senor Catfish, Slim Jim, and Chivito.
This collective is more than El Vez for the twitter age as they offered a mini storyline of heartbreak and reconciliation between Perrito and the rest of the band. Before they made-up, chorizo was tossed to the crowd as a gesture to feed the masses during this economic crisis. In another gesture, the band hawked self-bootleg t-shirts after the show.
The night shows heartbreak can be dodged by salsa dancing, pain softened by satire, and both can be overcome by playing your heart out.