“It's going to be very bittersweet,” says Garay, the founder and all-around hustler that helped put Mucho on the map. Mucho Wednesdays is indeed coming to a close at La Cita, but as the April 1 announcement didn't mention, it doesn't mark the end of an era but the beginning of a new one. As Mucho Music's web site excitedly revealed later, “Mucho Music has officially been invited by the Echo/Echoplex to produce shows for the HOTTEST Latin alternative acts coming through Los Angeles and HAND PICKED by the Mucho Music crew!”
Looking back, Mucho Wednesdays has helped create a unique space for Latin alternative music in Los Angeles, if only in the middle of the week. Its history began in the summer of 2007. DJs held Latin pop parties at La Cita because they were worried that there wouldn't be an audience for live shows. Los Angeles-based musician Pilar Díaz suggested otherwise, offering to baptize the venue with a performance of her own. “With that initial show with Pilar, we caught the bug,” Garay recalls. “It also made us very aware how few venues there were in the city for this genre.”
All the accomplishments that ensued led to the next logical step forward at the Echo/Echoplex. “We want to take back the weekend,” Mucho's founder adds, noting another void. “No one is giving Latin alternative music a weekend to book shows in this city,” he says. “The Echoplex and Spaceland productions have the vision and creativity to back us. This is only the beginning.”
The venues will be the place for once-a-month Mucho weekend shows as well as the second installment of the Visionary Sounds Music Festival. The first Mucho talent-buying foray at the Echo will feature acclaimed Mexican musician Carla Morrison with Son Jarocho group L@s Cafeter@s as the opening act on April 26.
It's the perfect scenario for Garay's elevated ambition. Morrison would have been difficult to book at La Cita, given her popularity, the size of the space and the Mucho ethos of a $5 cover charge. With the Echo, he can finally bring her into the Mucho fold while at the same time having a local band like L@s Cafeter@s on the bill. “That's our game plan,” Garay says. “We want to connect big bands with really talented local acts.”
In addition to making moves in Los Angeles, Garay's efforts have branched southward with sister promoters Mucho San Diego being a one-year experiment as well as a model for what can be done in a larger venue. Well-versed in music history, he knows that what is being constructed is reminiscent of the “Chitlin' Circuit” of supportive venues that allowed African-American musicians a safe space to perform during the days of segregation. Call it an emerging Chicharrón Circuit; the Mucho hustler sees potential for Orange County to be a stop along the way.
But before any of that begins to take shape here, the official debut of the new joint venture between Mucho Music and the Echo/Echoplex will be held this summer on June 25. Garay offered no hints as to what's going to go down that night, only that it is not to be missed.
Judging by his previous work, it's time to mark your calendars for the opening of a new chapter of Latin alternative music in Los Angeles.