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Miktlan ~ LIVE at Blue Cafe ~ Long Beach

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The Blue Café in downtown Long Beach raises one of the greatest mysteries known to Los Angeles kind. Maybe it’s just me, but is Long Beach really a part of LA? It is difficult for me to accept that the LBC belongs to a county with a name other than its own. Didn’t the people designating the parameters on our regional maps understand that Long Beach is big, bustling, and bangin' on its own? Blue Café, with partially blown-out bulbs on their sign, two floors with pool tables on two, and walls plastered with jazz artists, all located on a promenade is très cool.

Wednesday night, August 16th, I made my way down to Blue Café for their weekly live music opening for local unsigned and relatively unknown artists, mostly hip hop and reggae. I confess, a Wednesday night at Blue Café is neither big nor bustling, but it is certainly bangin'. The audience consisted mostly of family members, neighbors, and local alcoholics staring at a really cute bartender in ponytail with a set of dreamy yellow eyes. When I saw Miktlan, a politically charged Chican@ group, I knew there was a legitimate reason for which I had flirted so long with the bouncer in a successful effort to convince him that I, as a representative of LA Taco, was worthy of entering without the monstrous $10 cover charge. I mean, come on...

It’s a Wednesday night and I can see Tia Yolis secretly knitting a big purse while her sobrino is rapping, not a Friday night when said Tia, after too many Coronas, is dancing on the bar while her nephew tugs at her wrist in an effort to get her down...

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Miktlan, a seven piece group from East Los, dabbles in a wide range of genres—reggae, hip hop, cumbia, rock, and ska. Lead singer Tecpatl really can sing her heart out, and she does this partially covered in body paint, which the members do to represent their (our!) indigenous heritage. In addition to lead singer Tecpatl, some members of the band have named themselves in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs—Xiuhcoatl (vocals), Ayotl (guitar), Yolteotl (bass), and Miquiztli (drums).  The other members are Ozzie (Trumpet) and El Gato Negro (congas) whose name means "black cat".  The name of the band itself comes from the word "mictlantecuhtli", which in Nahuatl indicates the road from death to the afterlife, consisting of nine levels. Take that for a historical, political, and linguistic lesson!
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Honesty, I was not a big fan of the ska, rock,and hip hop crossovers. It was as if Santana got in a gruesome car accident, became partially brain damaged, and his five-disc changers got Save Ferris and Redman playing at the same time. I can see it already: Save Santana. The reggae, though, was pretty good. But call me a traditionalist; really go ahead, because my favorite Miktlan songs were those in cumbia style.

They reminded me of weddings when my friends and I would drink punch from Styrofoam cups and have pink rings over our lips. We wee girls would dance to cumbia in big circles in dresses with puffy sleeves and sequins glued onto them where you could still see the hot gun glue threads. This was not any kind of cumbia, however. Despite how much it brought me back to the days of Fito Olivares, with yet a greater resemblance to Tito Puente, it was different...

Straight up "fuck-the-government-with-its-perpetual-oppression-of-our-people" kind of cumbia it was. Have you ever danced to anti-sweatshop cumbia? Go for it. I'll spin in circles with you!

http://www.myspace.com/9levelsofmiktlan
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