In 2008 I pushed for change and helped the Latino community get out the vote with
a viral video of a song I wrote... I even got my then Republican mama to cast a vote for Obama!
In 2012 I did it again and helped get the vote out for a Forward agenda with ¡PA!LANTE
I am now trying to fund a very special album for my group OLA FRESCA with songs about immigration, nationalism, coexistence, spring parties and more that will be fun, dance inspiring, thought provoking, and something to be listened to for many years, and I need the help of the KOS community today! Our Kickstarter is over at 11:59 PM Monday night!
Now for a free MP3 of the Immigrant song I wrote and the whole story about me and the album, proceed below. If you are ready to pledge and advance order a great all original Latin roots album made by OLA FRESCA a great indie Latin band in Brooklyn, please go to our Kickstarter now.
For more the story of the album,videos, a free MP3 or 2, Berner Herso ( the Cuban Werner Herzog) and more, follow me beyond the pastelito.....
We flew into El Paso for a gig at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. It was the best connect for ground transport, so we grabbed our bags, and found our driver waiting to shuttle us across the state line to soundcheck. But I had seen on the map that we were very close to the US/Mexico border and I asked if we could drive by and see the immigration wall, So we loaded the car with guitars, percussion and bags and headed out. Not long after getting on Route 375 (ironically named after Immigrant rights activist Cesar E Chavez) we took a long turn around a bend and under a rail pass and then suddenly saw it rise right in front of us. With teeth of barbed wire, it glimmered in the sun and snaked away into the distance as far as the eye could see. We stopped to take it all in:
On our side ~ a perfectly paved road, irrigated water directed into to some green fields in the middle of a thirsty desert, calm open space and a land of opportunity beyond...
On the Mexico side - dusty dirt road, a shanty town and something that looks like danger and chaos manifested and well it is in fact the murder capital of Mexico, Ciudad Juarez, and also the so called "3rd world".
But the wall itself (two high feces enclosing a road patrolled by machine gun toting border security) was the most ominous sight!
It was a pretty surreal vision! And it set the tone for the trip. We had a great gig at NMSU and the next day drove a rental on a straight shot on Route 10 past tumbleweeds and several corrals crammed with cattle to Albuquerque. All I could think about was the wall and the feeling of desperation and death in the air out there. On the plane I wrote a poem about Manifest Destiny and the Immigration Wall. I also started to write a song about the wall….
Flash forward to 2013 when I see a video doc story in the NY Times titled “Bodies on the Border” by Marc Wilson. It is a harrowing piece that chronicles how since 2001, the remains of at least 2200 immigrants have been recovered in Arizona near the US/Mexico border fence! When I saw this I completed my song – Bandera. I wrote a beautiful and somber melody for it over a delicious percussive groove that blends Puerto Rican Plena with Cuban comparsa and samba elements. The lyrics bring together my thoughts in a statement about the fallacy of immigration walls and narrow minded nationalist agendas like "manifest destiny”. There is a hopeful mantra that I offer... -
CULTURA SI! BARRERAS NO! (Culture Yes, Barriers No!)Here is a live video of OLA FRESCA performing the song, which we want to record on the new record that we are trying tofund!
ELIXIR will be the title track of the album and I want to share this one with you
I wrote it in response to the semantic battles I find my peeps enmeshed in a quest to define a particular styles of music as either “American” or “Cuban” or “Puerto Rican”…. Or “Salsa”, “Son”, or “Mambo” … I talk about this very real battle and offer a positive outlook - “Call it what you want, call it what you will, it is an ELIXIR, and oh so good”
Ola Fresca sounds so good in this video! Check it out. Also, get to the bottom for a free MP3 bootleg of this live version of the tune!
There are some great songs we have prepared for this record, on the Kickstarter page you can find out more about the rest of the proposed album.
I am a big fan of WERNER HERZOG. Here is a little video cartoonist Frank Cromer and I put together to tell the world how the name OLA FRESCA came to be. It is narrated by the Cuban Werner ~ BERNER HERSO ☺
I am the son of a Cuban immigrant single mom. She left Cuba and the Revolution there and met my father who worked at KUBANEY records and was an A & R guy who worked with some of the early 70’s stars of Latin music. My mom worked at the 10 cent store selling vinyl records in Havana. I have music in my blood and I always knew what I wanted to do, but I have worked very hard to get to where I am, able and ready now to record my 4th record over all. We want to do it the right way and get it out properly.
If you love great roots music, please support us on Kickstarter right now with as much or as little as you’d like. It is a great cause and it will be an amazing and historic album! We have until Monday 11:59PM to either make our goal or not.Thank you! Jose Conde
And here are a couple of MP3’s for you of live versions for the video above!