Houston Music

New Festival Celebrates the City's Growing Latin Vibe

The new band Let Me Remember will be on hand for KPFT's Latin music and poetry fundraiser festival.
The new band Let Me Remember will be on hand for KPFT's Latin music and poetry fundraiser festival. Photo: Jonathan Merchan Photography
Music in the Spanish language rules. Like really, right now, by the time you read this the Latin pop song Despacito will probably have like over a septillion views on YouTube. And that has nothing to do with Justin Bieber (although it might).

And while major record labels are giving a push to whatever act is the next reggaeton-flavored summer jam, another scene continues to build, that of alternative rock and indie music in Spanish.

If you’re huge into urban indie music aimed at Latino culture there aren’t many places on your radio dial that will satisfy you either, except maybe a pair of shows on 90.1 KPFT: Son Pacifica and Zona Libre.

This weekend the station will kick off its first music and poetry event for local Latino acts. Spearheaded by Son Pacifica host, Alfonso Rivera, the fundraising event will have eight acts that include a mix of rock, spoken word and electronic music.
click to enlarge Alfonso Rivera is helping promote local Latin rock acts. - PHOTO: COURTESY ALFONSO RIVERA
Alfonso Rivera is helping promote local Latin rock acts.
Photo: Courtesy Alfonso Rivera

“All the bands and poets are locals and new talents,” says Rivera, who has been at the helm of Son Pacifica, and a huge booster for Houston’s urban Latin music scene, for over 14 years. 

He breaks down some of the lineup this way: “Tamo Junto plays Brazilian rhythms like bossa nova, samba and batucadas; No Te Mueras en Mi Casa plays alternative soft Spanish rock; DEM plays reggae; Let Me Remember, plays alternative pop-rock tunes in English and Spanish.”

But what also makes this festival unique is how it will intertwine poetry with music, and provide a look to the city’s rich and diverse poetry scene. “Latinos talk a lot in metaphors,” says Miriam Maldonado, a Puerto Rican artist who’s been in Houston for the past two years.

“Right now we need to talk about Latinos, in English and in Spanish. I’m Caribbean, and I want the people to understand what it’s like to be a woman and what it’s like to be Latina.”

Maldonado will be performing her poetry at the event in Spanish and addressing themes of sexuality, eroticism and politics, she says.

On the music front one of the new talents in the lineup is the band Let Me Remember, recently formed by Houston’s Myrna Garibay.

Garibay got her start learning classical guitar at the Sixth Ward cultural center, MECA when she was a teenager. She credits the KPFT Latin music shows with promoting the local scene in ways beyond musicians just having an online social media account. She says the shows have helped her build a fan base that understands where she’s coming from.

“I would write my songs in Spanish. Because I love the language, I feel very in tune with it because that was my first language,” Garibay who grew up in Coahuila, Mexico says. “When I started off like 4 years ago as a solo artist I was just kind of like experimenting and then I started meeting people from Son Pacifica and Zona Libre.”

It wasn’t long before she went from singing at bars downtown to forming her own band. “I just formed this band last year in November, and we had our first show on December 2,” Garibay explains. “We’re still defining our sound. We only have two demos recorded. But for the moment, we’re just like a basic four-piece, rhythm guitar, bass and drums.

Another musician invited to perform is Jorge Aldaraca and his group No Te Mueras en Mi Casa (which translates to Don’t Die in My House). He says the music shows on 90.1 have been vital for groups just getting their feet wet.

Aldaraca has been living in Houston for 10 years and is originally from Veracruz, Mexico. His band, which is influenced by Argentine singer Charlie Garcia, has twice been on the KPFT airwaves, on both shows. “It's a little hard to find places to play for people like us, who are just starting out,” he says. “It's KPFT that's been supporting local bands. There's not a lot of access here in Houston to get your music out there.”

Let Me Remember and more will perform at KPFT’s 1st Festival of Music and Poetry, 2 p.m. Sunday, June 25 at Fitzgerald’s, 2706 White Oak Drive. $10.

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Camilo Hannibal Smith started writing for the Houston Press in 2014. A former copy editor, he was inspired to focus on writing about pop culture and entertainment after a colleague wrote a story about Paul Wall's grills. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Times and the Source magazine.