Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Tao of Funkahuatl

One part tantric medicine man, one part Boyle Heights barrio advocate, one part broken-hearted love poet, one part rock star lover boy, one part visionary producer and one part life-long political and social activist, Rubén Guevara would squirm if he heard himself referred to this way. He might roll his eyes and say “come on, now, that’s too many parts.”

For Guevara, whose alter ego as Funkahuatl—the Aztec God of Funk—resurfaces on vinyl here with a definitive musical masterwork entitled The Tao of Funkahuatl, life and its lessons are to be savored as tantalizing experiences that reveal the paths to divinity. The sacred, as expressed in his first new album in over 30 years, is sexual, sensual, loving and tender. It is platonic and political. It is deeply rooted in community.

His new disc distills a lifetime of lovemaking and learning, of memory and mysticism. Backed by an arsenal of musical giants as legendary as Guevara himself, Funkahuatl once again jumps and turns with the fever pitch and whispers of trance-like storytelling.

The Tao is a come hither and dance with me, a shake rattle and roll from your hips clarion. For Guevara, the spirit of Funkahuatl redeems and purifies each of us with a soul throttling release that is captured here on a record that comes dressed in stunning sleeve art by John Valadez and a calligraphic package designed by Joel “Rage One” García.

With the collector’s record, an album complete with a fine art, limited edition lithograph printed by Francesco X. Siqueiros at El Nopal Press, Guevara restores vinyl to its original luster. And while the presentation is positively mouthwatering, it is finally the music and the voice that take shape and flight on the eight compositions that lace themselves together as The Tao of Funkahuatl which define the core of Guevara’s latest offering at the altar of joy, love and triumph.

It is no accident that he is joined by sidemen collectively known as the Eastside Luvers, among them: Steve Alaniz (tenor sax); John Avila (bass); Ramón Banda (drums) and Bob Robles (guitar). With the Luvers, Guevara bridges spoken word, funk, rhythm and blues. He scatters words, poetry, chord progressions, harmonies, brass, wind, fretwork, bass lines and percussion across the auditory spectrum in a steady torrent as if seeding the clouds with invitations to sacred gathering of song on LA’s Eastside.

Catch the upcoming issue of Brooklyn & Boyle for the complete review by Abel Salas

Saturday, October 9, 2010

SpinCity Terrace y Environs

Back with more than just poems and long, adulatory postings that come too few and far between. It's been an eventful season. What else can be said? Corazón del Pueblo is thriving. The "Un Floricanto Adelanto" at Corazón was a milestone gathering of 40+ poets and a sense of community that was not exactly matched at the equally stirring USC reprisal of the original 1973 Festival Flor y Canto. Meeting Festival coordinator and photographer extraordinaire Em Sedano, hosting the spirited Pocha Catalana, traveling to San Pancho to read at the Mission Cultural Center 40th Anniversary Celebration in honor of the Bay Area's El Tecolote newspaper on Aug. 29th were nothing short of breathtaking. We can probably dispense with the obligatory recap, but reconnecting with poet/artist mentors from 25 years ago was just the shot in the arm this pobre vato loco needed. Can't say enough about the renewed sense of purpose, the writerly compromiso...

And the ride hasn't stopped. It's taking me to Cal Sate Monterey Bay to read poetry in protest of SB 1070 in a former U.S. military base on October 28th. Will try to find a ride to Big Sur and Carmel while I'm there. Taking the train to Salinas. At Corazón, Teatro Urbano has extended the run of The Silver Dollar, a gut-wrenching play about the death of periodista Rubén Salazar. They perform the historic drama every Saturday in October at 8:30 pm.

The move to City Terrace brings me closer to Corazón and the work we're doing as part of a firme collective. Still in the middle of a do-or-die Dia de Los Muertos issue of Brooklyn & Boyle but it will come. The 1st St. corridor is hopping like mad. The Metropolitan Bar is open for business. I've had the glorious opportunity to meet the 70-something Doña Teodora Sanchez, proprietor of the tintoreria up the block. More on her later. The Boyle Heights Farmers Market is a Friday staple. Un Solo Sol Kitchen is serving healthy Mexican-Salvadorean fusion, ie. pupusas made with spinach or mushroom or squash as well as asian salads and chick pea guisos. Sorry if you're unfamiliar with "guiso." Just try to think of it as a Mexican stir-stew-fry in a pan and not a wok. 'Nuff said. We'll skip the litany of ultra-cool happenings you can't miss but must perforce mention the Latino Book Festival at Cal State LA today and tomorrow. Thank you Eddie Olmos. I'll drop in tomorrow for a panel on "Latino Diaspora," a discussion among Latino exiles from Latin America living in the U.S. as a result of the civil wars and political persecution by U.S. supported dictatorships that were installed in many countries to protect U.S. business interests and the landed local elite in often violent opposition to labor and indigenous rights activist movements. Which has nothing to do with the "Batalla de la Loncheras" at the Cornfields and the Mole cook-off at Placita Olvera tomorrow, two separate events I hope to hit before settling in at the Cal State LA Book Festival...

Por ahora, we'll just have to table