By: Fredwill Hernandez
Forecasted bad weather did not deter thousands [from across the country and locally] who came out to witness and take part in Chicago’s fifth annual Ruidofest, what in my opinion has become [while addressing inclusion] — “the best” [three-day] Latin music festival in the country!
Los Tigres Del Norte, El Tri, Hombres G & Enanitos Verdes, El Gran Silencio, Dharma, Malafacha, Helado Negro, Monsieur Periné, Inspector, Flor De Toloache, Los Auténticos Decadentes, Diamante Eléctrico, Francisca Valenzuela, Silverio, Niña Dioz, Jesse Baez, Camila Luna and Quinto Emperio were [just] some of the 50 [plus] acts that performed during the [three day] festival sponsored by Estrella Jalisco, Toyota, AT&T, McDonald’s, [The Chicago] White Sox, AHF, and Act Against Aids which began Fri. – June 21st, and ran [for nine hours daily] thru Sun. – June 23, 2019, at Union Park, Chicago, IL.
Sponsors like McDonald’s, Estrella Jalisco, AT&T and Toyota [all] made their presence felt: as McDonald’s brand ambassador’s handed out [samples of] their new Minute Maid blue raspberry, [red] fruit punch, and [orange] sweet peach flavors slushies and buy one, get one free Frozen Coke coupons to be redeem at [either] Chicagoland or Northwest Indiana [valid thru June 22 –July 22, 2019 at] area McDonald’s, and Toyota had its own [large circus style] tent with a stage for [its own scheduled] performances by the likes of Kablito, Niña Dioz, Jesse Baez, Loyal Lobos, The Red Pears, Marrón, Danileigh, Camila Luna, Clubz, and Girl Ultra [through their Música interactive experience music den] and were showing off their [new] Corolla and Rav 4 models with interactive [dash] video’s about the cars, allowing attendees brain waves to be scanned and sent [to attendees via emails], as attendees sat [inside the cars] and learned about the vehicles.
“I was born in Chicago of a Guatemalan mother and a Dominican father, I reversed immigrated back to Guatemala when I was six and I lived there my entire life until four years ago when I moved to Mexico City to make music. Two years ago I moved to Los Angeles, [Ca.], because I got signed as an artist to Universal Music [Mexico] through Broke Kids,” explained Baez after leaving everything on the Toyota [music den] stage. “I was in a band for like five years and the music was more rap, then around 2015-16 I wanted to make Spanish R&B over beats because I thought it was a good time to start doing that. So, I started, I had a few Spanish versions of music and they did pretty good in Mexico so I took it as a cue to move there. I moved to Monterey [Nuevo Leon, Mexico] for four months and I did my first EP titled Baez, then I moved to Mexico City [D.F.], for like two years. Mexican people have embraced me and literally have made my career. I’ve been making music for like seven or eight years but the progress I’ve made started like three or four years ago, all my success coincided with me moving there to Mexico.”
As to what he thought about Ruidofest, Baez, added, “I like the fact that Ruidofest is Latino focused, In the future I feel there will be more Latino focused events and festivals because I feel there will be more Latinos making mainstream music, so I think it’s a first good step. It’s also good to see peers that I would see in Mexico City, other acts that started like me from the bottom, It’s great to see them play here outside of Mexico City, so I’m psyched.”
Other notable performances on Fri. – June 21st aside from headliners Hombres G & Enanitos Verdes who concluded their “historic” Huevos Rebueltos tour with their [electrifying] Ruidofest performance was by [Chicago’s own] Cuestion De Tiempo, and Latinx-alternative cumbia band Quinto Imperio, also from Chicago’s Back of the Yards area, who performed two of their latest compositions [songs] titled “La Última y Nos Vamos” and “Cuatro Elementos,” songs which the group plans on recording in July to [eventually] be released as singles.
“Some of the most important songs we decided to include in our [Ruidofest] set was “Once Upon a Dream” and “Crónica Inmigrante”, both recorded on our first Album with the later as title. “Once Upon a Dream” it’s not only a real life story of a friend, but it is relevant to millions of people that share the story of migrating to the United States looking for opportunities to improve the family’s quality of life and even to survive,” explained the group’s vocalist Edy Dominguez, who along with his two brothers Hugo and Fredy, and also the band’s “biggest fan” their father [Marciano], co-founded Quinto Imperio [professionally] sometime in 2010. “Crónica Inmigrante” is our platform to share some of our own stories while attempting to motivate and inspire our immigrant community to stand tall and fight for their rights, not only for themselves but for everyone around. That’s why we asked on stage for people to “raise their fists” if they believe every human being deserves to dream and pursue those dreams. More than just a show on stage, it is a reminder… we cannot forget about our [predominately immigrant] brothers and sisters who are suffering beyond unimaginable scenarios.”
As to what Quinto Imperio thought about Ruidofest and their philanthropic efforts [to help Dreamers] the band added, “performing at Ruido Fest 2019 was a blessing. We are very thankful to the Ruido Fest organizers for considering us…We loved it this year specially because it inspires us and leads us to continue dreaming and working hard. We also have to thank our fans and friends in Chicago, specially the people of our “hood” the Back of the Yards. They are the ones that put us in the crosshairs of Ruido Fest…Something I’d like to add is that we are proud immigrants and we are thankful to our parents and our community for their sacrifices. To give back we run the scholarship Dreamers and Allies Run for undocumented students. This is our 7th year. We will be awarding almost $15,000 in scholarships to undocumented college students in July 2019 with funding gathered with the help of the community. Our message to our scholars is “you’re not alone,” our message to our community is “stay strong, let’s stand together, and let’s party!”
With so much talk about “inclusion” and the lack of female representation in music across the board, it was great to see more “women performers” at the 5thAnnual Ruidofest, not just [female] lead singers of [or in] male bands.
One of those awesome all female bands, happens to be the NYC Mariachi Collective Flor de Toloache, the Latin Grammy winners who have recently collaborated [for the second time] with “Uruguay’s top” Latin Alternative band No Te Va Gustar (NTVG), in their latest album titled Otras Canciones [which coincidently also celebrates [NTVG] the band’s 25th year anniversary], and who have also [recently] collaborated with [R&B singer] John Legend who the group urged to sing in Spanish — in what the group dubbed as [their] reggae-achi version of Juan Luis Guerra’s classic “Quisiera.”
“I’m half Mexican, my father is from Michuacan, Mexico, and he used to sing Mariachi in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where I grew up. I grew up listening to all the classic Mariachi songs and when I moved to New York I was [organically] approached to play in a Mariachi band, I learned so much about my [Mexican] culture through Mariachi music that I fell in love with it and that sparked the idea and inspiration to form Flor De Toloache. I was one of the only women playing Mariachi music in New York [at that time] so for that reason I wanted to form my own group to collaborate with other women. I eventually learned how to make a statement and navigate the [male dominated] industry and deal with the machismo of [some] men. Eventually I met other women in Mariachi and that’s how Flor De Toloache was formed. I feel were breaking obstacles, cultures, and the beliefs or thoughts that women can’t get a long or work together,” eloquently explained Flor De Toloache’s founder Mireya I Ramos, after their electrifying performance at Ruidofest’s [Estrella Jalisco’s] Platinum stage on Sat. – June 22nd.
Other [Sat.] noteworthy performances were by Monterey [Nuevo Leon, Mexico’s] El Gran Silencio who performed [among others] classic songs from [both] their 1998 Libres y Locos and 2001 Chúntaros Radio Poder albums, and unintentionally set the stage [and got festival attendees “ready and pumped”] for Mexican rock “pioneers,” El Tri — a band headed by Alex Lora — a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award “recipient” and [the evening’s headliner] who this year [also] celebrated his 50thyear anniversary musical trayectory.
Other local Chicago bands that also made “some noise” and did their thing were Dharma, and another named Kelroy, who sang [among others] songs of their albums bloodshot hungry paranoid and Beautiful Monster.
“Our band name comes from the 1812 novel Kelroy [by author Rebecca Rush], so we just took the name, adopted it and try to make it our own. The band was formed about eleven or twelve years ago, but the current formation we’ve been together about six years. Were from the Northside of Chicago [from the Logan Square, Avondale, and Humboldt Park area], except for our keyboard player who transplanted from New York,” explained the band’s frontman and vocalist Luis Crespo. “We started implementing the masks about a year ago, it’s something we did for a Halloween show but we really enjoyed it and just kept implementing them at our shows. It kind of became and accentuates what we do as oppose to the fear of it being like a gimmick or anything like that. We kind of believe in the music, it’s pretty intense and the masks kind of help bring that to life [a little bit], it helps compliment the show. We start the show with the masks on — then after three or four songs we take them off.”
Last year [in my write up] I showcased a local Chicago [tattoo] artist’s named Danny Ponce who had a booth at the 4thAnnual Ruidofest, he had [kind of got bored with tattooing and had] moved on to paint, brushes, and canvas — and was displaying large canvas portraits of artist’s like Mariachi/Ranchera singer Vicente Fernandez, or Mexican musical icon Chalino Sanchez holding a pistol and so forth — and even portraits of General Marcos and His Zapatista Movement [of Chiapas, Mexico]. This year I also ran into another local Chicago artist [at Ruidofest] who also had at his booth [unique] “burned wood” art that also caught my attention!
“I’ve been drawing all my life since I was a kid, then ten years ago I ended up in a wheel chair, so I lost my job and everything, I had nothing to do, no income, and I was depressed, so someone pointed out and said: Why don’t you do your art! One day my brother showed up with a soldering iron and a piece of wood and it all started from there. I started burning [art on] wood, they liked my work, then the art started selling and from there I just stuck with it and picked it up, so I’ve been doing this type of custom made hand art for five years now,” explained Edgar Irineo, who dubbed himself as “Edgar Jairo,” the artist behind the Quemadero [Brand] apparel. “I came up with a little name Quemadero, I started with handmade art and expanded it to cellphone cases, key chains, and so forth…trying to stick with [predominately the] wood, but I also have some leather and acrylic art too.”
As to how one of his favorite art pieces La Catrina [burned wood portrait] came about, Jairo explained, “I named the piece La Catrina, basically I started with reclaimed wood, so I got the wood pieces and sanded them and cleaned them up, then I glued the pieces together. After that — I did a little bit of pencil stenciling then burned everything [with a soldering iron], then I did some coloring, and on the empty face – I actually added some glow in the dark color, so the face actually glows in the dark.”
The forecasted bad weather [somewhat] cooperated or simply just moved on during the first two-days of the festival, but It would eventually be a different story on Sunday! Throughout the day sporadic showers did not however hamper excitement surrounding anticipated performances by Diamante Eléctrico, Inspector, Los Auténticos Decadentes, Francisca Valenzuela, and even Silverio, who during his electrifying set stripped down to his underwear, and took off one of his boots and took a beer tossed at him [which is usually the norm during his set], poured it in his boot before spilling it on himself — as he drank it, but it was the “very highly anticipated” performance of Los Tigres Del Norte, who made Sunday’s bad weather [and rain] all worth the wait!
“I’m an immigrant from Durango, [Mexico], and tonight I have the great pleasure to ask you all to give a very warm welcome to the special visitors to Chicago. Chicago is a city founded and made rich by immigrants, Chicago [was and] is the first city in the country to declare itself a sanctuary city. Our special guests tonight are amongst the best interpreters of Norteño music in the world. The songs and corridos [folk tales] they sing reflect the reality and history of our people, and there are also our allies in the fight and justice, and dignity of all the immigrants – without any other further delays let’s hear a the noise of the City of Chicago in presenting Los Jefes de Jefes [The Boses of Boses] Los Tigres del Norte,” eloquently expressed Illinois Congressman Jesús ‘Chuy’ Garcia, the U.S. Representative from Illinois’s 4th district, who was joined onstage by his wife before the video of Los Tigres Del Norte’s “Un Consentido de Dios” [their Vicente Fernandez tribute song] played in its entirety, which set the stage for the group’s “magical and moving” entrance to the Ruidofest stage playing [and setting things off with] their classic song “La Banda Del Carro Rojo.”