By Daniel Larios
August 14, 2014 –Latin Rock – or as it is more popularly known, Rock en Español –will take over the Santa Monica Pier Thursday when Grammy-award-winning La Santa Cecilia hits the stage for the summer’s sixth Twilight concert.
The LA group comprised of Mexican immigrants gained national recognition last January by winning a Grammy for their 2013 full-length studio album, Treinta Días, for “Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album.”
“If La Santa's sound had its own recipe, it'd probably be based in the three "B's" (blues, boleros, and bossa), fortified with cumbia, rock, and norteño, and seasoned with pop, ska, R&B, and more,” wrote Monika Fabian.
“Atop it all is La Marisoul's voice, which reminds of a dulce mexicano, or Mexican candy: capable of being silky and sweet like cajeta but also tangy and spicy like chamoy.”
Named after the patroness saint of music, La Santa Cecilia’s story began in Los Angeles’ historical Placita Olvera, where band members La Marisoul and Jose “Pepe” Carlos met and began performing together.
"During the week, we would go to school and we'd listen to like Nirvana and The Ramones and The Doors and we were like really in alternative music and rock and all that,” said La Marisoul in a Fusion TV interview.
“And then during the weekends, I'd put on my Mexican skirt and outfit, and he would wear his guayabera, and we'd be singing boleros and rancheras on Olvera Street."
In 2007, the two musicians formed La Santa Cecilia with percussionist Miguel “Oso” Ramirez and bassist Alex Bendana. The group’s musical influences include Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Mercedes Sosa and Ramon Ayala.
In addition to its hybrid sound, the group has made a name for itself by incorporating social justice issues in their music. The band members include first generation children of immigrants as well as an undocumented “DREAMer," a term used to describe individuals who meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
The Grammy award-winning album includes the protest song “El Hielo,” which translates to “the ice,” and takes on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.
The song has been adopted as a kind of unofficial anthem of the immigration-reform movement. The group has performed at rallies around the country, including at an Olvera Street concert after the May Day march through downtown Los Angeles.
La Santa Cecilia recently covered the Beatles’ 1967 classic “Strawberry Fields Forever” in a music video that takes viewers on a journey of strawberries from kitchen table to California’s Central Valley, home to a large population of migrant workers who are often underpaid and overworked.
Opening for La Santa Cecilia Thursday evening is mambo big band Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta.
The Twilight concert series takes place every Thursday night at 7 p.m. and will run for ten weeks through September 11.