Best Latin Oldies Program 2016 | Cruising With the Manic Hispanic on Mega 104.3 FM | Fiesta | Phoenix

James "The Manic Hispanic" Rivas has a golden voice — just a little scratchy, but warm and mellow — the kind of voice that makes you feel like you're listening to a buddy. But his pipes aren't the key to the success of his program, Cruising With the Manic Hispanic, which remains our favorite oldies show in Phoenix. It's his song selections, from Latin rockers like Santana, smooth soulsters Earth, Wind, and Fire, and lowrider oldies from the likes of Brenton Wood. Rivas' stated goal is creating a relaxing set of tunes each time he goes on the air, and when he plays songs like Switch's "I Call Your Name," with its smooth glide and easygoing vibe, it's clear he knows exactly what he's doing. But like all good oldies DJs, Rivas' line is always open for requests and, more importantly, dedications from his listeners.

Quartzsite, you say? That depressing-looking RV parking lot off the I-10 on the way to Los Angeles? What of interest could possibly be out there? Well, in 2016, seemingly out of nowhere, there came Rock Fiesta, a tour de force of rock en español. Caifanes, Molotov, El Tri — the lineup was practically a history lesson in Latin rock. It's unsure at this point whether the festival will return to Arizona; festival organizers have stated they found a new location for 2017, but as of press time haven't yet announced it. Regardless, Rock Fiesta took a promising first step last year, hopefully one that's indicative of the coming mainstream acceptance of rock en español.

Mariachi de Grand Ave only has been around for about a year, but these centrally located folks do it right. Led by David Marquez (of the renowned Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra), the traditional mariachi band regularly performs at ThirdSpace on Grand Avenue (at the junction of Grand and 11th avenues) as well as other venues around the city. In the past year, they have shared the stage with bands as diverse as Valley metal masters Sacred Reich (for a Bernie Sanders fundraiser) and touring band Metalachi, who plays classic heavy metal covers mariachi style, as well as sharing their killer sounds with art events and local favorites like Fayuca. Marquez is often joined by a stellar cast of players, including regulars Adrian Fontes, Yoli Bejarano, Gabi Velez, and brother Simon Marquez. Known for their exquisite harmonies and ridiculously tight and authentic musicianship, Mariachi de Grand Ave have made quite an impact on mariachi music in Phoenix, and their future is incredibly bright.

Phoenix rapper Dave Miranda has cemented himself in the local hip-hop scene as one of Arizona's premier emcees. Rocking the mic as Mr. Miranda, he has a smooth, laid-back delivery and an excellent ear for slick productions when it comes to his collaborations. Miranda is a reflection of so many Latino millennials in Arizona; Latin music is as familiar to him as Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan, and the influence of American pop culture is inescapably noticeable in his music. Over the years, he has commemorated everyone from Ritchie Valens and Rick James to WWF wrestler the Ultimate Warrior and Mr. Rogers — he released a mixtape earlier this year called Mister Miranda's Neighborhood. Besides his musical reach, his great-uncle is infamous civil-rights plaintiff and Miranda rights subject Ernesto Miranda.

The after-school music academy Rosie's House offers free music classes and instruments to low-income youth. They are also training the next generation of mariachi musicians.

Combining a lively mix of violin, trumpet, guitar, and vocals, the young performers in the three mariachi ensembles from Rosie's House produce a full, passionate sound whether they're playing heartfelt corrido or a fast-paced polka. Students range in age from 5 to 18 at the academy, which offers classes in brass, woodwind, and string instruments, as well as choir. The academy also offers mariachi ensemble opportunities for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. It's an impressive bunch: The Advanced Mariachi Ensemble performed recently at both the Tucson International Mariachi Conference and the Governor's Arts Awards.

The Zubia Brothers truly are legends in the Valley music scene. Lawrence and Mark Zubia ooze rock 'n' roll panache and have for a long time. Fixtures in the fabled Tempe scene of the 1990s, the Zubias and their band the Chimeras, or the Pistoleros, could have easily been the most internationally popular of all the local desert rock notables — but fate was not on their side in the early days of their career as it was for peers like the Gin Blossoms or the Refreshments. Regardless of national or international fame, Lawrence and Mark Zubia continue to crank out exceptional rock 'n' roll music, as well as what they describe as "traditional Chicano wedding band" music with their Zubia Brothers combo, which never strays far from the strong musical roots planted by their father, Raul, a longtime Valley mariachi musician.

Clandestino was founded by Nicolas Paredes as a monthly alternative Latino dance night at Crescent Ballroom, but Paredes and crew quickly realized that switching locations and schedules up made more sense than hosting a monthly event. Now, Clandestino acts as a pop-up night, stopping at venues like the Rhythm Room and the Heard Museum. Best of all, the Clandestino team helped coordinate a Latin stage at the Viva PHX festival, which took over a massive chunk of downtown Phoenix in March, hosting groups like LA's Buyepongo and Thee Commons at the Goldwater Room and the Renaissance Hotel.

Since launching in February, Antro Nightclub has remained true to its promise of bringing the pachanga to the people. Whether they're spinning hip-hop, Top 40, EDM, or Latino music, it's always a puro pinche pari at the west-side dance venue. Their Latin nights feature the sultry rhythms of bachata, cumbia, reggaeton, and salsa, as well as provocative dancers decked out in outrageous LED suits or skimpy lingerie. Because Latinos love to get down, Antro's biggest commodity is its vast dance floor, but clubgoers can always opt to take in the super-bueno atmosphere from a number of VIP booths. Libations are readily available at the bar or at tabletops where bottle service is always on tap, and you can always count on the chavos looking slick in button-down shirts and the chicas keeping it sexy in body-hugging dresses and miniskirts.

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