How Las Cafeteras Make Space for Celebration

Las Cafeteras are coming to Mesa.
Las Cafeteras are coming to Mesa. Rafael Cardenas
Electric, roots, and love.

Those were the three words jarana segunda player Daniel French used to describe the Afro-Mexican, norteño banda, jazz, and R&B-inspired musical style of his band, Las Cafeteras.

The band will perform at Mesa Arts Center on Tuesday, March 13, as part of GlobalFest on the Road: The New Golden Age of Latin Music, along with the Grammy-nominated mariachi group Flor de Toloache. Each band will merge their styles of music to reflect shared cultural identities and changing borders with a new Latin sound.

"We want to create a space where people can celebrate where they come from, their culture," French says.

Translating to "the coffeemakers," the band's name refers to more than just coffee. The band's named for the community center they emerged from. They started as a group of friends jamming out in an east L.A. cafe, would play weddings, protests, and art galleries, and turned into what's now known as Las Cafeteras.

The group's music paints a vivid picture of what it's like growing up as an immigrant in the United States in a highly energetic, vibrant style.

In the band's second and latest album, Tastes Like L.A., the band breaks language barriers in playful Spanglish songs like "Vamos to the Beach," and "This Land is Your Land." They also pay homage to the neighborhood candy man in "Paletero," and speak to lovers in "Tiempos De Amor."

French describes Las Cafeteras music as reflection of the influences each member had growing up. Inspired by traditional songs from Mexico, including zapateados and Vicente "Chente" Fernandez, to Tupac, Johnny Cash, and some good old rock 'n' roll.

French says that blend is natural and a taste of L.A.

"When we talk about these stories and experiences on being an immigrant, the children of immigrants and what we see happening in our neighborhoods, it really comes from our family stories," French says.

Inspired by the power of imagination, "If I Was President" and "Señor Presidente" are two songs that French hopes will invoke change under the current political climate.

"We — as members of our communities and as citizens of the world — need to stand up now for what we believe in," French says. "No one is gonna save us, we cant wait on anyone else to do it for us ... We see it less as politics and more storytelling."

In collaboration with Flor de Toloache, French hopes to do more than just entertain. With a mission to create, and uplift, French wants to send people home with "good medicine" and "good food to chew on" that will inspire inclusivity and radiate positivity.

"We want to set the record straight," French says. "We all have a piece of the puzzle needed to make this county a truly great place, and that comes by including everybody not through sending 'people back where they came from.' It comes through including all the beautiful people that are in this country and finding what gifts they have to offer and lifting them up. That’s the essence of the show."

GlobalFest on the Road: The New Golden Age of Latin Music will take place at the Alliance Pavillion at the Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street on Tuesday, March 13, at 7:30 p.m. The event is free for all. More info at the Mesa Art Center website.

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