According to a recent Associated Press article picked up by everyone from The Huffington Post to Fox News, Day of the Dead celebrations are on the upswing, a trend attributed in part to the growing Latino population and Hispanic influence on the culture, as well as changing attitudes towards death in post-9/11 America. Featured prominently in the piece is Houston's own Carlos Hernandez, who agrees the holiday is becoming more mainstream, saying, "You can even get Dia de los Muertos stuff at Walmart."
These days Hernandez is a very busy guy. In addition to opening Burning Bones Press in the Heights and churning out a steady stream of concert posters for major touring acts like B.B. King, Arcade Fire, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the former Flamin' Hellcats drummer puts on Day of the Dead Rock Stars, a yearly tribute to departed music legends in the form of Dia de los Muertos folk art.
On the inspiration behind his work, Hernandez says, "I love the idea of bringing the dead and the living together in a unique way," adding, "The music of some of my favorite musicians who have passed away has been an awesome inspiration to me, and what better way to celebrate their existence."
The fifth annual Day of the Dead Rock Stars, dubbed "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive," is 6-9 p.m. Friday (tomorrow) in the Record Ranch at Cactus Music. The show is free and open to the public, and will feature homages to Amy Winehouse, Hank Williams, and Marvin Gaye, to name a few; music from DJs Psychedelic Sex Panther and Stagger Lee; and a live performance by local rockers Roky Moon & BOLT!.
To satisfy the living, Saint Arnold will be on hand serving up Santo, a new black Kölsch featuring Hernandez's handywork on the label.
Rocks Off has yet to miss a Day of the Dead Rock Stars opening and we don't suggest you do either, but if you can't make it out this weekend the work will be on display at Cactus through January. For those who can't wait until Friday to get their Dia de los Muertos art fix, we've posted a dozen album covers inspired by the November 1 holiday below.
Are Day of the Dead celebrations gaining steam in America? Considering that seven of these 12 were released within the past five years, we'd have to say yes.
Grateful Dead, Grateful Dead (1971), also commonly referred to as Skull & Roses or Skull Fuck
Misfits, Legacy of Brutality (1985) (reverse side)
Oingo Boingo, Dead Man's Party (1985)
Concrete Blonde, Mexican Moon (1993)
Deftones, Deftones (2003)
Dead Brothers, Day of the Dead (2006)
Graham Collier, Day of the Dead (2006)
Lord Newborn & The Magic Skulls, Lord Newborn & The Magic Skulls (2009)
500 Miles to Memphis, We've Built up to Nothing (2010)
Beats Antique, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) EP (2010)
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Valleys, Stoner EP (2010)
The Cosmic Dead, The Cosmic Dead (2011)