Friday, June 11, 2010

Aztlan Underground's New Album and Tour

A Lyrical Quest for Unity Among Indigenous Peoples
Aztlan Underground announces the launch of their third independent, self-titled album Aztlan Underground (2009); and up-coming "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges" Tour, inspired by the recent political distress in the southwestern state of Arizona. "The reality is that the earth is too small to ignore our interdependence and interconnection as a human family. To ignore this fact is to uphold archaic notions of superiority of one group of people over another," said lead vocalist Yaotl.

The band is rehearsing and preparing for several important dates including an anti-drugs educational and music workshop for the Nuu chah nulth Nation in Canada in July. Reaching out to underprivileged Native youth is a priority for the band members who themselves faced many of the same struggles growing up around violence and poverty. “It’s about the language of expressing what we see in one another, helping give voice to the voiceless and shedding light on injustice,” says drummer Caxo.

The new self-titled album features an evolution towards a more global, humanitarian struggle. Traditional indigenous rhythms, modern industrial sounds, and the hypnotizing sense of timelessness of the songs stretch the boundaries from standard compositions to become 8- to 9-minute nonconformist journeys. Collaborating as a circle with no bosses and no leaders, each member contributes their personal story to the creation of a song. Four versions of the same story are told in four different ways at the same time. The bilingual English and Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) album, Aztlan Underground (2009), is available now on iTunes and in-stores July 2010.

The "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges" Tour is set to cross the Southwestern states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Southern California in the fall bringing their message of peace and unity. "Let us see Arizona's SB1070 for what it is; Devolution. Let us evolve together as a human family and abolish racism and nationalism forever," says the band. In addition to the tour, Aztlan Underground has been invited to perform at the 2010 Native American Music Awards in November where the new album has been nominated for an award in the Rock category.

Azltan Underground Performance Schedule

Air Conditioner
Venice Beach, CA
June 10

Bakersfield, CA
June 12

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges Tour
     Fresno, CA
     June 17

     Arizona Sux, Watsonville Rox
     Watsonville, CA
     June 18

     Death to Meth, Ukiah CA
     June 19

     Farce of July
     Phoenix, AZ July 3
     Tucson, AZ July 4

     Additional Fall 2010 Dates TBA
     Southern California, New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona

Nuu Chah Nulth Nation, Pacific Rim Festival
July 9-12
Vancouver Island, Canada
Educational workshops and outreach

Native American Music Awards (NAMMYS)
November 2010
Award ceremony performance

*More dates to be confirmed

About Aztlan Underground

Aztlan Underground’s music reveals the unrestrained voices of global indigenous peoples combining hypnotic Native rhythms with modern industrial sounds. For 20 years, they have cultivated a grassroots audience across the world from Europe to Australia and Canada to Venezuela. At home, they are an institution influencing a new generation of musicians, bands, and free-thinkers. They challenge their audience to look within, to their own life-giving forces, and human potential. Their new self-titled album features an evolution towards a global, humanitarian struggle while remaining true to their name and beliefs by playing political rallies, underground venues, and anywhere the doors open.

Collaborating as a circle with no bosses and no leaders, each member contributes their personal story to the creation of a song. Four versions of the same story are told in four different ways at the same time. With this ritual, Aztlan Underground has independently produced and distributed three albums: Decolonize (1995), Sub-Verses (2001), and the self-titled album Aztlan Underground (2009). The band’s albums reflect a process of self-discovery and realization evolving from the anger of Decolonize to the new self-titled album featuring an evolution towards a more global, humanitarian struggle. The new album maintains the indigenous infusion of sounds and timelessness where the songs stretch the boundaries of the standard composition and become 8- to 9-minute nonconformist journeys.


Aztlan Underground is:

Joe "Peps"(Comanche*): bass, rattles, Native American wood and clay flute

Maker of his own gourd rattles, clay flutes, and bird calls, Joe is as much a visual artist as he is a musician. He joined Aztlan Underground in 1994 after a chance performance at the now defunct Popular Resource Center in Los Angeles, well-known for having inspired cultural movements. Growing up in El Sereno, an urban reality surrounded by the Chicano experience of Los Angeles, he fostered his talent as a painter, sculptor, feather-work artist, bass player, and Native musician. He captures his thoughts, indigenous worldview, and oral histories through his art and music combining both on-stage with Aztlan Underground. Joe currently teaches art to youth in juvenile detention facilities. His intent is to pose questions through art and music and address urban social issues within a global age of poverty and oppression.
“The power of music is beyond just me. We’re simply a vehicle to inspire and send a message to empower, and enlighten. The world is at stake--the war--we’re all part of the puzzle. Everyone is being conscious, aware that the earth is speaking, things are changing.”

Caxo(Huichol-Mexica*): drums

Ignacio “Caxo” Lopez comes from a long line of musicians such as his cantina guitarist grandfather Luis, flamenco and orchestra musician brother Rodolfo, and upright bass player brother Rosendo. Together they grew up amidst the flourishing barrio music scene of East Los Angeles listening to his mother sing while his father blared music by Perez Prado, Roy Orbison, and Jose Alfredo Jimenez. Still, as most colonized Native children, he attended church at 6 am every Sunday morning while longing for the mindless entertainment of Sunday morning cartoons. It was there that a pint sized lady named Lucy inspired Caxo to create music as she belted out prayer songs with enormous strength and conviction. Her powerhouse voice inspired Caxo to imagine creating music around it. He since has delved in to writing, art, and music. Performing since junior high he joined Chronic Atrocity and the death metal scene followed by Tezacrifico and Kontraattaque in the do-it-yourself hardcore punk rock scene in Los Angeles. Caxo joins Azltan Underground in the 2003 where his unfiltered expression fruitfully emerges.
“It’s about the language of expressing what we see in one another, helping give voice to the voiceless and shedding light on injustice.”

Yaotl (Raramuri/Mazahua*): vocals, Indigenous percussion

Founding member of Aztlan Underground, Yaotl brings to the microphone the raw intensity of the concrete jungle that is the modern urban experience and combines it with the meditative chants of Ancient America’s timeless trance. The married father of four is determined to create a better world for the next generation having experienced a rough childhood filled with violence, abuse, and neglect. Having survived gang initiation and a violence-induced coma, Yaotl turned to music. “Music saved my life,” he says. Heavily influenced by punk rock and "do it yourself" ethos, he left the gang life and formed his own band. Listening to punk bands like Minor Threat and Rudimentary Peni who were anti-drugs, -alcohol, -war, and -authority, Yaotl began studying anarchism and thus began his insatiable thirst for information and truth. Fatherhood, he feels, has changed him completely. It now fuels him even more to create a better life, another place, another way of co-existing.
“It’s a reality check about the frailty of life.” 

Alonzo Beas(Apache*): guitars, keyboards, synthesizer, native percussion, sequencing

Alonzo Beas is the electricity behind the innovative guitar playing and soundscapes found in Aztlan Underground’s music. Creating musical textures and beats through various instruments, guitar pedals, and computer software, he ignites the spark that takes listeners on a mystical voyage. His home base has always been the guitar, finding his center on the instrument. This is evident on-stage or in the studio. His musical influences are those that go beyond the scripted into the provisional, from rock to breaks, noise to industrial or even mariachi. He grew up in Northeast Los Angeles to Mexican parents and identifies strongly as a Chicano. His Mexican roots gave way to his vast knowledge of music. Always seeking a higher consciousness, he reaches beyond the barriers of labels to blend his past with the present to create cutting-edge uninhibited music.
“I want to convey a message of love, kindness, and peace when I create and perform music. It is significantly inspired by the mystery of where we come from and where we go when we die.”

*Refers to tribal affiliation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Walk in Beauty

Here are some beauty and fashion tips that I want to share with the ladies. Beauty comes from within and all that jazz. You know that part already. These are some solid ideas I made up along the way.  I try to keep them in mind when going about the day.  You may have your own take on what fits your personality. At least I hope you do! I know you do. But if you could use a little encouragement or advice on how to mix it up, read on.

  • Glitter eye shadow is fun for work and play
  • Fake eyelashes are worth trying and trying until you get it right
  • Liquid eyeliner takes A L O T of practice but once you get the hang of it, watcha!
  • With sparkly glitter eye shadow use lip gloss not lipstick
  • With subdued eyes, go for the RED lips!
  • Wear jewelry that makes you happy preferably big chunky rings
  • Invest in a few pieces of nice jewelry and wear them everyday
  • Mix your good jewelry with your fake jewelry
  • Accessories are your friend but limit them to a few small pieces and one big wow piece. 
  • Wearing comfy shoes all the time is A-Ok after you're married
  • Uncomfortable but great looking shoes are ok if you will be sitting down
  • Find the color that look good on you. Experiment, experiment, experiment until you get it right. Then wear it loud and proud!
  • Bright colors are not scary!
  • Beige is for grandmas!!
  • Khakis should be burned in the BBQ pit or used as canvas
  • Hats only hide the beauty of your gorgeous mane, skip them. Plus they give you hat hair. Not good.
  • Buy a good pair of cowboy boots for those days you feel like roughing it and going against the grain. They're oddly empowering.
  • Silk scarfs are for baby boomers
  • Yes, people will think you're a lesbian if you have short spikey hair (and send me e-mails about supporting GLAAD . . . inside joke)
  •  Condition your hair, always.
  • Control the frizz.
  • Keep your toenails painted. It detracts from people noticing your dry feet.
  • On the same note, wear bright lipstick to make your teeth look whiter or to draw attention away from the huge honkin' zit on your nose
  • A little cleavage never killed anyone. Just put smiles on people's faces.
  • You don't have to smile at everyone. It only makes you look crazy, not friendly.
  • On the flip side, smile once in a while fer Pete's sake. It ain't that bad. 
  • Ugly old men aren't always creepy. They're just tired and have better stories than goofy 20-somethings.
  • Beer is for men unless you're broke and he's cheap. 
  • Cosmos are yummy and pink
  • Ask for extra olives
  • Stop after 2 drinks
  • Eat before you go out drinking
  • Wear your beautiful fancy dress. Don't store it away in the closet. It may never come out.
  • Comfy sweats belong inside the house and maybe at the grocery store if paired with big chunky sunglasses and a pony tail, but never out in public beyond that.
  • If you get the urge to put a flower in your hair, do it.
  • Pigtails look cute on little girls, not grown women.
  • Drink water, slather lotion, and spritz some perfume
  • Don't dress for others, dress for yourself
  • Dress to match your mood
  • And most importantly, remember that you only live this life once! Enjoy it! 
Do you have your own personal mantras and beauty tips? Share them here. I'd love to read them!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chatting it up with Grandpa

I don't know if I was just born this way or if it was the way I was raised, but I have a secret fascination with talking to old people. I'm not talking mere card-carrying senior citizens. I love talking to people 70 and above.  I've yet to have the pleasure of chatting it up with a centenarian but I'd love to one day. The closest I got was in high school when I had to put in some volunteer hours in order to meet the requirements of a school club. While other kids were tutoring kids and helping at homeless shelters, I was wheeling sedated seniors around a local nursing home. There were no fun stories there. Just funny yet sad incidents of saggy old men walking around with their pants around their ankles or the little old lady that tried to make a run for it but instead got scared and started yelling from outside the emergency door. Fun times.

Maybe it's the ache in my heart for my long gone grandfather whose memory brings me to tears on occasion. That doesn't quite explain though, exactly why, since birth (probably), I would almost always prefer to hang out with my parents and their friends instead of going to play with other kids. If I had the option, I'd choose the adults. I could sit and listen to their stories of youth, recounting events that took place in their lives, most of them really funny or scary. It must be a Mexican thing or more specifically, people from the ranch life that have these awesome scary ghost, devil, evil dog, witch lady stories that frightened the heck out of me. My grandfather once told me that there was buried treasure under the tree in his back yard. We'd sit out there enjoying the summer weather and he'd point, "Ahi!! Ahi se aparecio la cabeza de una mujer y me dijo que habia tesoro." "There! That is where a woman's head appeared to me and told me. This is were the treasure is buried." I'd look at the patch of dry patted down dirt wondering if she would appear to us then but nothing. Nevertheless, I'd speed by that spot on my way across his yard and never pass by there at night. Noooo way! My parents, aunts, uncles and older cousins have tons of great stories that my grandfather told. I guess I'm just very jealous to be one of the youngest of his grandkids that didn't get to enjoy his stories as an adult. Couple that with my fascination with history and culture and well, you had me at "when I was a kid".

A few days ago, an older friend of my husbands (in his 70s, not quite 80) was telling a joke about a man picking up a hooker. I especially liked his choice of words. "A man picks up a woman on the street. Takes her back to a hotel. Has her way with her. When he finished, he said to her, 'in exactly nine months, you will have a baby'. She turned to him and said, 'in exactly 3 days, you're going to have a rash'." The joke was priceless. It's so hard to get old folks to relax and curse or tell dirty jokes around young folks especially us woman. I was giddy that he shared that with ladies present.

At my daughter's gymnastics class just last week, a tall elderly man wearing a cowboy hat, face rugged from decades of hard labor, wearing a jacket with a big "Hecho en Mexico"/ "Made in Mexico" logo on his back slowly strutted into the gym. I was instantly fixated on him. He was with one of the mom's I didn't really know. I had to talk to him. I struck up a conversation with the mom in Spanish so that he could understand as well. Moments later the woman's daughter started doing the "gotz to go potty" dance and off they went. I asked if he was visiting and made other small talk. Next thing you know he's telling me about where he's from in Mexico, how long he's been in the US, where the states are located in Mexico drawing circles and lines on the steps where we sat. The mom returned and tried to shush him thinking he was bothering me. I explained to her that I really enjoyed talking with him but she persisted. I chose to ignore her and kept asking Gramps questions. He was more than willing to continue the conversation not really caring to watch his granddaughter fall off the mats. (sorry kid) He tells me about a very old marketplace in Mexico where all the crops from across the country are taken after they are harvested. It's been there for about 100 years but after about noon, the morning buzz of the crowd is gone and everything is sold. I can't remember the name of the town even after I asked him twice. (I'm so bad at remembering names.) He also told me about this type of cheese called aƱejo they used to make in Durango. They dig a hole along the hillside, place the cheese in there, cover it with a tarp, and bury it for roughly twelve months. After a year, a distinct cheesy smell starts to creep into the air and that's when they know it's ready. They don't make this cheese anymore since most of the younger generations chose to leave the small towns and traditions behind in search of a better living and more money across the border. Long gone are the days of horseback riding, burros, and neighbors helping neighbors. He lamented the passing of time and the good ole' days. Now the drug war and drug lords have taken over these norther territories and made people scared to visit or live there.

We can learn quite a bit about ourselves and society by talking to people that are blessed to be living long lives. Just imagine what they have seen in a 70 year span---a few wars, defeated presidents, natural disasters, encounters with famous people, or perhaps they themselves did something adventurous. You never know until you ask. Everyone has an interesting story to tell and older people have simply had more experiences with the passing of time. I want to hear them all.

What about you? Do you have an interesting story to tell? Did you ever do something wildly adventurous or fascinating that when you reach your silver years you will be recounting those adventures to your grandchildren or the perhaps to that nosey stranger sitting next to you? I'd love to hear your stories too!