‘El Bolero Nunca Va Pasar de Moda:’ The Oaxacalifornian Preserving Mexico’s Romantic Ballads Alive in L.A.


When Roberto Carlos got here to Los Angeles as a toddler, he longed for his house state of Oaxaca, Mexico, the place he was born right into a household of music lovers. An undocumented migrant unable to go to his house nation, he threw himself into bolero music to really feel linked to his tradition and homeland. 

Bolero is a musical model marked by its romantic lyrics and incorporates guitar and the requinto, a smaller model of the Spanish guitar tuned to the next key. The model originated in Cuba within the Nineteen Forties and have become broadly popularized in Mexico by tríos románticos in the course of the famed Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. 

“The primary time I heard bolero music was on the age of ten. And I simply keep in mind how there was one thing that resonated to that music in direction of my story of how I used to be raised,” explains Carlos. “My dad was a giant bohemio and he beloved bolero music, particularly tríos from Oaxaca.” 

Roberto Carlos (Left) with Tres Souls 2021. Picture courtesy of Roberto Carlos.

At present, as an artist and musician, Carlos is the mastermind behind Boleros de Noche (BDN), a mission devoted to preserving and celebrating Latin American bolero music historical past in Los Angeles. Since 2015, he’s been spreading the bolero gospel all through town through BDN’s annual live performance sequence and as a member of bolero trío, Tres Souls. 

Carlos shortly discovered a loyal following of bolero-loving Angelenos, who’ve an extended historical past of embracing the style ever because it first arrived in Los Angeles. In Barrio Rhythm, Steven Loza recounts when bolero gods Trío Los Panchos first arrived in Los Angeles in 1950, they had been warmly obtained by Angelenos on the Mayan Theatre, the place they carried out for 2 weeks straight.  

Carlos credit the steadfast reputation of bolero music in Los Angeles to its group of immigrants, who got here from completely different Latin American nations, and introduced with them their love of bolero.

Since then, bolero music has clearly left a long-lasting affect on L.A. musicians. Mexican American and Chicanos have been respiratory new life into bolero music with a contemporary twist that comes with mainstream American influences, resembling rock, R&B, and inglés. In response to Loza, El Chicano’s 1971 rendition of Sabor a Mí, soulfully sung by feminine lead vocalist Ersi Arvizu, turned generally known as “the eastside anthem,” and is taken into account one of the crucial necessary musical legacies of the period. Grammy award successful East LA [email protected] rock group, Quetzal, is thought for his or her tackle conventional bolero songs. Extra not too long ago, La Marisoul, lead singer of La Santa Cecilia, embraced her love for boleros on her 2020 solo album. 

Carlos credit the steadfast reputation of bolero music in Los Angeles to its group of immigrants, who got here from completely different Latin American nations and introduced with them their love of bolero. “L.A. is a large half in creating this bolero motion. Individuals come from completely different cultural backgrounds, however being Latino and loving tradition is what L.A. is about,” says Carlos. 

To this point, BDN has reached over 10,000 folks by means of over 13 concert events at venues resembling La Plaza de Artes y Cultura, Levitt Pavilion, and the Ford Theatre. Their subsequent cease? Carlos desires to at some point set up a noche de bolero on the Hollywood Bowl.

Whereas the continuing pandemic has put a pause on in-person occasions, this hasn’t stopped the BDN workforce, who’re curating month-to-month bolero playlists on Spotify and are busy planning their first ever digital live performance on March fifth. The present will function feminine artists from Mexico and Los Angeles, Guerrero-based duo, Las Hermanas García, and L.A.’s very personal trio, ELLAS. Carlos made certain BDN concert events replicate extra conventional bolero sounds, as discovered with Las Hermanas García, in addition to musicians that mix up to date influences, like ELLAS.

The live performance, going down simply days earlier than Worldwide Ladies’s Day (March 8), reminds us that girls have all the time had a huge effect on bolero music. Mexican pianist and songwriter, Consuelo Velázquez, wrote the well-known “Bésame Mucho,” and composer María Grever wrote “Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado,” Carlos shares. “These ladies wrote like over 800 boleros of their time. So the ability of ladies has all the time been there. To work alongside ELLAS and Las Hermanas García is only a testomony to the expertise of ladies in bolero musicianship.” 

The success of Boleros de Noche demonstrates that Los Angeles could be very a lot a Latin American metropolis and our lengthy relationship with bolero music is right here to remain. “Bolero, like as soon as my dad stated, ‘el bolero nunca va pasar de moda,’” says Carlos. “It is going to by no means fade out [of style]. It is going to surpass completely different musical generations.” 

To buy tickets to Boleros de Noche’s March 5 live performance, go to conciertovirtual.eventbrite.com

With the acquisition of a ticket, attendees will obtain a reduction code to decide on a pre-fix dinner from three eating places: Madre Restaurant, Chichen Itza, and Holbox.

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