Will OC Experience a Latin Alternative Music Revival in Anaheim?
On Thursday, Grammy-nominated Nicaraguan singer Perrozompopo is scheduled to headline a show at Club Ember in Anaheim. The up-and-coming musician, who may very well be awarded "Best Alternative Album of the Year" for his latest release CDC, will be joined on the bill by the talented band Velorio who appeared on the same SiTV cable channel's reality competition show Jammin' that helped launch the career of Girl in a Coma.
A decade ago, a Latin music lineup up like this would just be another Thursday night in Anaheim, thanks to venues such as JC Fandango. Since that establishment's closure, relocation and revamping, the scene in the city--and countywide--has been all too quiet in the aftermath.
All that may change now thanks to the efforts of Intoroq promoter and Anaheim resident Christian Mejia.
Like many of OC's Latino youth, Mejia, who is Salvadoran, traveled to Los Angeles to get his Latin Alternative fix for years. "I was doing shows in LA at Fais Do-Do, but lived in Orange County," the promoter said. "I was looking for venues down here but no one was interested."
Mejia never gave up hope and found inspiration anew after seeing Perrozompopo perform at the Visionary Sounds Music Festival at La Cita, a ragingly popular venue in Downtown LA.
"His talent, music and humbleness really got me. When I spoke to him he was very charming," Mejia says of the political troubadour.
"Watching him perform I thought to myself, this is really cool, and different. Being from Central America myself I didn't know much about the history," he says. Wanting to bring that musical experience to Anaheim audiences, the promoter started looking to venues on the Boulevard that bears the city's name.
"I'm really close to Club Ember and I thought they would say no, but then I was very lucky to have been introduced to the general manager and it happened!" Mejia excitedly recalls on putting the event together.
Thursday's show will be a test case of the logic that Latin Alternative music would be a popular draw in a city like Anaheim where many Latino youth make their home. Testing the waters, the Intoroq promoter has been pleased so far by the response in the lead-up. "Going out to promote this show, so many people are happy that something is happening down here and they don't have to drive up to Los Angeles," he says.
Club Ember isn't the end all of Mejia's plans, however. After successfully negotiating his way into that venue, he simply strolled further down on Anaheim Boulevard to another unlikely spot for Latin Alternative bands: the rockabilly residency known as the Juke Joint.
"I ended up introducing myself to the bartender and from that conversation I introduced myself to the owner and negotiated with his nephew who handles the place," he says. The end result: A once a month promotion of acts starting on November 12th with Monte Negro. "The Juke Joint is very supportive," Mejia mentions. "They want to work with Latin acts understanding that they are in a community where there are a lot of Latinos."
So far, Anaheim's possible revival as home to such a scene has been filled with bands coming from outside of the county. Will Mejia's plans eventually include bringing homegrown, local talent into the fold?
"Absolutely," he says summing up his response in just one word.
Perrozompopo performs with Velorio and Making Movies at Club Ember, 401 N. Anaheim Blvd. Anaheim. www.emberofanaheim.com (714) 991- 3686. Doors open 8:30 p.m. $10-12. 18+
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