Monday, May 12, 2014

Up-and-Coming Reggae Band Raiz Muzik: Keepin' it Old School

This past Saturday night I had the opportunity to celebrate 420 with one the greatest reggae bands to come out of Fallbrook, California: Raiz Muzik.
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Photograph: David Cruz (WOR)
Their name defines exactly what they’re all about. Raiz which literally means “root” in Spanish along with the uniquely written “muzik” imply a simplistic reggae, the original reggae.  Raiz Muzik’s so far seven year career, consists of one full length released album (Reelection) and a recently released single (Calloused Hands). They are gradually proving to all of southern California that they are one of the best local reggae bands around and that roots reggae is ready to make a comeback. Their sound is nothing like the current mainstream reggae that we’ve grown accustomed to hearing on the radio. The brothers Sonny Romero on vocals/drums and Sergio Gonzalez on keys along with band mate Jerome Cruz on guitar/vocals use their clean beats, ingenious melodies and smooth licks to crawl inside your body and take your soul out for a dance or two. With the assistance of guest bassists and sometimes even a horn section the trio takes you on a voyage to a carefree world where love and music intertwine majestically to create a true paradise.

I met up with vocalist/drummer and Raiz Muzik front man Sonny Romero after their first set that night and got the scoop for all our reggae enthusiasts here on Creative Edge Music. 
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Photograph: David Cruz (WOR)

Lilly: Can I get a brief history of the band?

Sonny: Well the band started in 2005. My brother [Sergio] and I were playing in another band at the time, and actually Raiz Muzik, the whole band was a bunch of cats from another band, everybody left midway through the recording. My brother and I decided to keep it going because we were recording an album and that's pretty much it. My brother and I we've been going through players and just keeping the name Raiz Muzik alive because we believed in it and we love to play music.

Lilly: How many albums have you released?

Sonny: We actually only have one that was released in 2006 and it is called Reelection. We've got another album in the studio but due to money and stuff like that we can't really release it yet. We just need to raise some money to be able to put that album out. And that album is going to be called The Deception of Babylon; it's pretty much done.

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Photograph: David Cruz (WOR)
Lilly: How does the new material in the studio differ from your first piece?

Sonny: You know, the first album is more along the lines of spirituality and issues that have to do with current events back in 2006 but the new album is a little similar. It's a little more on the darker side, the roots edge on it. There's no horn section on the new one like there was in the old one. The writing has definitely progressed a lot more. My brother is the one that comes up with most of the rhythms and I come up with the vocals and lyrics. We go back and forth together, we present it to Jerome then he adds whatever he want to add to it and we put it together.

Lilly: What do you use as your inspiration?

Sonny: I use a lot of life experience of my own. A lot of the stuff you hear, especially on the Reelection album, I was going through some things back then where actually I just wrote it out; that's pretty much my life. Now, what I see, a lot of times you see people being mistreated and we use reggae as a vehicle to express that...make people aware and reflect.

Lilly: When you guys play a gig what does your set mainly consist of? Reelection or The Deception of Babylon?

Sonny: We do a little bit of both. We try to play 99% original music, so we bring stuff out of the new record and we always play the old stuff because people seem to really like the older stuff as well, so we got to keep that going.

Lilly: What do you expect people to take home whenever they see you perform at a venue?

Sonny: You know our music has a message, so like you were saying a minute ago hopefully people go home thinking about one of the songs they heard and maybe it captured somebody and it made them go home with a message about what we're singing about, you know what I'm saying? We're not singing about anything bad... we don't glorify the whole party aspect of life. We kind of try to stick with real issues and real things that are going on so hopefully people go home with that. And a good sense that they had good night and a good vibe.

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Photograph: David Cruz (WOR)
Lilly: So what's next? Any upcoming tours?

Sonny: You know right now our calendar is pretty spread out so we're playing like once a month. As far as touring goes we won't be touring anytime soon... but really right now what we're really doing a lot is writing. That album's been sitting in the studio for so long that for us it's getting kind of old. So we're already writing new material on top of that. We didn't write for a long time and we just started up again and it's been good and everybody feels good about it.

Lilly: Why should someone check out Raiz Muzik, what makes you stand out from the rest?

Sonny:  A lot of the reggae that is coming out now is a lot of the surf reggae and it’s got that real heavy rock edge like even punk sometimes. What we do is we keep it roots, we play more of a 70’s styled reggae. We do kind of drift off a little bit in songs during a show, but what we play is what inspired me you know? That real 70’s reggae; that’s my favorite kind of reggae to listen to and that’s what we do that’s different from a lot of the other bands… Hopefully people will latch onto and be like “wow I really like these guys’ style; they’re keepin’ it old school."

You can download, Raiz Muzik's new single Calloused Hands online on iTunes
Order the Reelection CD here.
Check out their music on Reverb Nation
Stay updated on everything Raiz Muzik on their official Facebook page 

Written by Lilly Lopez (@lilly_lopez_ ) Friday, April 26, 2013

Originally published on Creative Edge Music

A Groovy Night of Romantic Melodies with Leon Larregui

This past Friday night I had the opportunity to attend Zoe front man, Leon Larregui's concert here at El Foro in Tijuana presenting his premier solo album: "Solstis". When I arrived, the venue was crawling with fans on the outdoor patio; I could only imagine how full it'd be inside. I had arrived a bit late due to the commute I made from North San Diego County to Tijuana and the traffic implicated. When I arrived, the opening act, Mexicali native Juan Cirerol, was already on stage warming up the audience with his rockabilly and corridos.

As I walk inside I'm astonished to see every single seat occupied and the floor section (which was standing) tightly compacted and just as full. I'm amazed to see how many followers Leon Larregui has accumulated these past years. I honestly can't say that all of Zoe's fans have followed Leon in this new and unprecedented journey, but, I can say that a large percentage of them have. We walk over to the right side of the floor to obtain a better view Juan who is doing a great job at getting the public ready for a night of sexy music.

It's around 9:30 and the stage is ready for the main event to begin. Fans are screaming with excitement and anticipation; I'm amazed to see how wide the age range with Larregui's fans is: teenage girls' screams pierce your ears while women in their 30's jump around with excitement. I myself, being a loyal Zoe fan, am pretty excited but surprisingly, not screaming (for the first time in my life). Since I'm standing next to the backstage entrance, I have a clear view of what is going on behind the curtain; I see Leon ready to go on stage.

The Solstis gang mounts the stage one by one; each time the intensity of the crowd grows more and more. Leon steps on stage; he's dressed in dark jeans and a black long sleeve shirt. El Foro goes wild, I can't even hear myself think with every one's cheering. But I'm not complaining, the feeling is actually quite pleasant. The drums kick off the night to the beat of the first track on the album, Aurora Boreal. The sound is exceptional; the smooth bass line crawls inside you through each one of your pores. Leon's voice is hypnotizing, the chorus takes you to another planet.

Next comes one of my favorites: Carmin. The haunting bass intro and signature 70's guitar rythyms move the group to dance along willing and unwillingly. Next is Perdonar; I see fans pulling out lighters and waving their hands in unison with the sweet vocals that make this song so catchy. The sorrowful Souvenir follows afterwards while the mass chants at the top of their longs the chorus. Good thing the heartbreak songs didn't continue or else I would have started to cry! Brillas one of the most popular songs of the album begins and all the women in the venue begin to scream uncontrollably.

Leon picks up his red Rickenbacker guitar and the up optimistic Resistolux starts off; "Tu sabes que hacer, tu sabes que hacer por un mundo mejor," sings Leon as his admirers jump up and down in glee. The somber mood returns with the mythical piano chords as they diminish in pitch with Perdida Total. Larregui surprises us with the announcement chat he will be premiering the music video for the last track on the album tonight , Resguardum Ether, on the back screen as they perform.

Femme Fatal brings on the groovy bass lines that make this album stand out so much. When Leon announces that they're about to play their last song of the night the crowd screams "no!" in disapproval. "well, the album is ten songs, if you want we can repeat it all?" Leon says with a smile. The audience cheers in approval. The upbeat guitar rhythm of the first single of the album "Como Tu" begins and the room shakes uncontrollably along with crowd. This was perhaps the song that most were waiting for and definitely perfect to end the set.

Or so I thought... after Leon and company step off the stage the audience begins chanting "encore!" in unison. The lights are still off and there is no sign of the instruments being put away, so that's a great sign. A few minutes later, Leon steps back on stage and the multitude of people cheer. Leon tells us a bit about the song he's about to play; it's a cover of a track that he used to sing a lot when he was a child. The acoustic guitar begins; Leon's harmonious voice begins reciting Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine. Larregui makes the song his when all the electric instruments come in, captivating effects the musical arrangements for this cover are beyond fascinating.  The last song of the night is an encore of Brillas and the crowd, ecstatic sings along. Leon thanks the public one last time and all the Solstis tour musicians join him center stage to take a bow for Tijuana.

Amazing concert, very different than Zoe concerts (which are equally as amazing). This album which is sort of a tribute to 70's music left me and everyone in the audience more than satisfied. Also, for those of you who are familiar with Zoe and their live shows, at the Solstis gig, Leon seemed like a different man. He smiled more times in this one show than in all the Zoe shows I've assisted to. I'm glad he's doing this side project, besides being great material, I feel like he's having the time of his life as well. I can honestly say that the show surpassed my expectations; I was so used to Zoe I thought this wouldn't be nearly as entertaining. But boy was I wrong! Leon Larregui is definitely a gifted musician and singer; blows my mind every time.

Escrito por Lilly López, Martes 21 de Mayo de 2013 08:42   

Originally published on Tijuana Eventos
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Festejando y Fumando con Cultura Profética y Gondwana

Este sábado se llevó a cabo el 4:20 Fest en la ciudad fronteriza de Tijuana. Aunque días antes se rumoraban manifestaciones a las afueras del evento en contra de la mariguana por parte de una página en Facebook que no vale la pena mencionar, el concierto fue todo un éxito, en el cual aproximadamente 7 mil amantes de este dulce género festejaron por adelantado este día tan significativo al lado de dos importantes bandas del reggae.

La cita era a las 4:20 en el Parque Morelos, pero yo arribé poco antes de las 21 horas, que en realidad no fue problema alguno, ya que aún estaba la última banda invitada sobre la tarima. Apenas llegando al estacionamiento del recinto el aroma de la ganja me acariciaba los pulmones y daba besitos dulces en la nariz, como si se burlara de mí ya que no vine preparada. Entre paramédicos y seguridad logré llegar hasta la sección de prensa en donde pude apreciar a Somos Uno, una banda de diferentes partes de San Diego que se auto define como “una banda de reggae fronterizo sin fronteras”. Uno de ellos ondeaba una bandera verde amarilla y roja mientras la vocalista femenina con sus bailes y presencia seducía al público y los preparaba para los dueños de la noche.

Casi una hora después, a las 9:57 PM suben los puertorriqueños de Cultura Profética al escenario. Los miles de asistentes cantan y bailan con alegría al son de “Sube el humo” canción perfecta para iniciar esta fiesta en conmemoración del 4/20. Desde que salieron a escena los teclados de Juanqui, combinados con la suave voz de Willy se metieron por mis oídos y sentí como se paseaban por mis venas. Continuaron con la difusión de mensajes con “Ideas nuevas” y “Ritmo que pesa”Para ese entonces yo ya estaba de vuelta entre la multitud disfrutando como todos los demás que al escuchar el inconfundible riff de guitarra de “La Complicidad” gritaron, saltaron, pero muchos, muchos MUCHOS se dieron tremendos besos. Que era todo un deleite para los sentidos con esa hermosa canción de fondo. Le siguieron con una viejita “Inspiración” y un cover del gran Bob Marley, “I wanna love you” interpretado por el baterista Boris.

Exactamente media hora después Willy toma el micrófono y agradece a Tijuana “Hola buenas noches…estamos bien agradecidos de estar por fin en Tijuana...y bueno más agradecidos estamos porque llenaron esto de forma tan bonita.” Continuó “obviamente estamos festejando un poco anticipado el 4/20, y a mucha gente esto le ha caído mal que estemos celebrando la existencia, porque no sólo la fuman, la existencia de la mariguana, es cuestión de ver poquito más allá de lo que nos pintan a diario… Y al fin se está dando esta conversación en todas las esferas sociales… creo que es cuestión de tiempo para que las cosas cambien. Sea como sea nosotros siempre hemos sido los locos esos que hablamos sobre la mariguana, pero es que ¿alguien tiene que hacerlo no? por eso se dice así “Nadie se atreve’”.

Continuaron haciendo consciencia sobre temas controversiales con canciones como “Somos Muchos” de su última producción. Después se pusieron romanticones y celebraron el amor y lo bonito de la vida con temas como “Lo de más”, “Amante Luz”, “Para estar”, “Un deseo”. Unos cuatro minutitos después de las 23 horas Willy presenta a una de sus coristas, Patricia “Melogia” Lewis como “una de las mejores voces femeninas que hayan salido de Puerto Rico” la cual procede a interpretar  una canción. “Baja la tensión” fue el tema con el cual culminaron su presentación que claro, como todos los que acostumbramos invertir (porque no es ningún gasto) dinero en entradas de conciertos sabemos, esto no era el final.

Tan sólo un minuto después de que abandonaron la plataforma, regresaron, a las 11:16 con “Ilegal”. Al terminar esta bautizaron oficialmente el festejo con “Saca prende y sorprende”, una rolita nueva que formará parte de su siguiente álbum. La energía con la que contagiaron al público era asombrosa, las sonrisas en sus rostros no podían esconder la felicidad que sentían al estar sobre ese escenario celebrando junto a miles de tijuanenses y sandieguinos el 4/20.

Después de su presentación platicamos con Juanqui, tecladista de la banda quien compartió con nosotros, “me sorprendió ver la cantidad de gente que se presentó esta noche, sinceramente no me lo esperaba… muy linda la energía, muy bonita.” Y no perdí la oportunidad de preguntarle porqué la legalización de la mariguana es un tema tan importante para ellos, Juanqui nos expresó: “Igual que en Puerto Rico [ustedes] sufren un ataque de narcotráfico. Y está más que hecho que la guerra contra el narcotráfico está perdida… ya ellos ganaron. Y hay que buscar una forma de apaciguar la guerra, que no muera tanta gente ya, ya basta de derramar sangre. Yo pienso que les quita poder [a los narcotraficantes]…El que se quiera drogar que se drogue, el que quiera vender que venda, y ya que paren las muertes ya basta”.

Esperamos casi hora y media para que Gondwana saliera, faltaban 15 minutos para la 1:00 cuando Labbé y  MC Jona pisaron el escenario y así dieron inicio a su set con “Cidade Pulse”, los fans bailan al son de los metales de Gato y Pancho. Sin demora alguna le siguieron con un popurrí de “Nada Cambió”, “Aire de jah”, “Ignorancia” y “Reflejos de luz”. Antes del concierto, los músicos nos concedieron una entrevista exclusiva en su hotel, ahí I-Locks Labbé nos compartió lo “entusiasmados” que estaban por tocar en Tijuana porque la gente es “más efusiva y espontánea”. También nos adelantó que ya se encuentran en pre-producción para un nuevo material que está por salir a mediados de este año.

Los presentes corearon los clásicos de la banda como, “Verde amarillo y rojo”, “Reggae is coming” a todo pulmón y los chilenos no siguieron sin antes agradecer a los asistentes por haberlos esperado hasta esa hora, yo no sufrí tanto, ya que llegue cuatro horas antes de que ellos tocaran, pero la muchos tenían en el  lugar ya  unas 9 horas, sin exagerar. Pero eso no importó, ya que los fans de hueso colorado seguían de pie bailando y cantando al son de éxitos como “Nadie como tú”, “Antonia”, “Pienso en ti” y “Mi princesa”.  Todas canciones para enamorados y yo tan solilla, así que lo lógico era tomar mis últimas fotos de cerca y abandonar la sección de prensa para irme a disfrutar de esta leyenda del reggae latino al lado de alguien especial.

“Piénsame” de su último álbum sonaba cuando llegué a reunirme con mi acompañante, justo a tiempo para unos apapachos bien merecidos. “Chainga Lainga” hizo que se me olvidara el cansancio y me puse a disfrutar de la banda como se debe, en esta canción todos los integrantes desalojaron el área con excepción de las percusiones y batería, para un solo rítmico. Regresaron con “Tú y yo” seguido por “Irie”, canción con la cual yo oficialmente dejé de ser prensa y me puse a disfrutar del toquin como fan total.

La siguiente fue “Llegando a mi hogar”, una de las que más esperé toda la noche ya que en nuestra entrevista, Labbé me pidió que la escuchara con mucha atención, una canción perfecta para la ciudad fronteriza de Tijuana que relata la historia de un inmigrante en Estados Unidos. Bellísima y en vivo la pude apreciar mil veces mejor. Faltaban ya unos minutos para las 2:00 a.m. cuando MC Jona tomó el micrófono y cuestionó, “¿llegamos ya al final, quieren alguna otra más?” Entre gritos se escuchaban muchos títulos conocidos pero la cuenta regresiva inició con “Give your love” seguida por “Nuestros sueños” y “Sentimiento original”. Llega “Felicidad” y a pesar de que vemos el final muy cerca estamos llenos de dicha de poder iniciar nuestro 4/20 en tan buena compañía. Cerraron con broche de oro con el cover de “Could you be loved”.

Los fans en esta ocasión no se quedaron pidiendo otra porque con dos agrupaciones tan talentosas era casi imposible irse con ganas de más. Musicalmente fue un evento buenísimo, quizás lo único que falló fue los horarios que pusieron en los cartelones y la hora real en la que salieron las bandas. Pero además de eso, todo salió de maravilla, todos nos fuimos a casa sintiéndonos irie, con el oído y la mente satisfechos.

Publicado originalmente en Tijuana Eventos

Escrito por Lilly Lopez , Martes 22 de Abril de 2014 11:06   

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