Country Music

L.A.'s Tremoloco Drops Smokin' Salsipuedes With Local Help

Nothing gets Lonesome, Onry and Mean's blood pumping like opening the mail and finding a long overdue album from Los Angeles roots outfit Tremoloco. The band's previous release, 2008's Dulcinea, was in heavy rotation on the jukebox at our local water hole for several years, and the album seldom left our truck.

The band supported the album with a stupidly funny video of opening track "Mi Novella" (the Spanish term for soap opera).

But with the first listen to 16-track Salsipuedes, with its mix of barroom weepers, Spanish-language ballads, and funked-up country-rockers like



and "La Mexicana," we immediately knew that Tony Zamora, Bob Robles, Cougar Estrada, Mike Tovar, Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez Jason Lozano, Juan Chacon were back in the same cool East L.A. groove that made Dulcinea so great.


The album also spotlights the always clean playing of longtime Dave Alvin sideman Rick Shea, who co-wrote a couple of the tunes.

From a local standpoint, the best news was the utility players the band brought in. Not only does former Blaster Dave Alvin add star power and rip his guitar on "Claudine" and "The Riverside," but down in the fine print, we discovered two local names: Accordionist Roberto Rodriguez III (Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man, Pistoleros de Tejas) and vocalist Karina Nistal.

Rodriguez has done two tours of the Northwest with the band since first meeting them here in Houston at a Tremoloco gig at Under the Volcano in 2009, and, according to Zamora, Rodriguez was instrumental in bringing Nistal, the popular Houston vocalist who decided to try her luck in Los Angeles last year, into the recording mix.

Rodriguez spent a couple of weeks with Zamora preparing for last year's tour and Zamora took the opportunity to add Rodriguez's accordion to four tracks.

According to Rodriguez, "I was staying with Tony and he wanted a female vocalist, so I told him about Karina. Once he saw her show, he liked her and asked her to duet on the album," he says. "I think he's also had her open some shows for them."

Nistal absolutely nails it on her duet with Zamora on the brassy

"Misión de San Fernando."

"Misión de San Fernando."

Zamora notes, "She really worked hard on her stuff. We were very impressed with her effort and her work ethic."

According to Zamora, the album title has several meanings.

"The best translation is 'leave if you can.' It was originally three words, sal si puedes," he says. "There's a Salsipuedes Creek in California, a point break in Baja, and a town in Mexico. But it has now morphed into just one word.

"The original connotation was a place that is so beautiful you simply couldn't leave. It's a bit darker with us, of course, like at this point, for better or worse, we are who we are," adds Zamora. "We may love it and/or hate it but we ain't changin', just lying in the bed we made. We're just a bunch of old-ass writers, musicians and artists who don't know anything different."

Salsipuedes drops September 27, but Zamora is engaged in a pre-sale with special pricing via the Tremoloco Web site.

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William Michael Smith