A week on the scene
Touring in support of his just-released Pa' Corridos, Lupillo Rivera brings his act to Noche Caliente this Friday, November 26. The impeccably-groomed singer, with his pinstripe suits, cropped mustache, and shaved dome, has made a lasting mark on the regional Mexican genre, not for his appearance (although his dapper-don attire contrasts with that of a number of his more traditional-appearing contemporaries) but for popularizing the narcocorrido: lyrical tales dissecting - and, at times, celebrating - the underground world of drug smugglers and dope pushers.
The corrido, with its origins in the Texas-Mexican border region of a century past, told of Mexicanos defiantly resisting Anglo domination amidst the formation of a new social order. In many ways the much-maligned narcocorrido - derided by critics for its negative stereotyping and its valorization of la mala vida - functions in a similar manner. By crafting finely woven stories of "getting away with it" (an outlaw theme shared by blues, hip-hop, rock, and country), infused with a culturally specific form of masculine bravado, Rivera and his peers respond to the conflation of immigrant with terrorist, the denigration of Spanish, the criminalization of brown youth, all backed by bass-heavy banda music and thumping, throbbing polka rhythms. Ask him and he'll tell you that he's just commenting - or, like a street-level journalist, reporting - on life. As a product of his times, however, he's more than just a passive observer describing what he sees.
Since signing to Univision, Rivera has become more radio-friendly, incorporating traditional arrangements from mariachi legends José Alfredo Jiménez and Javier Solís into his ever-expanding repertoire. As he stands poised for iconic status it's obvious how loudly and clearly his music resonates through Mexico and Mexican communities from Southern California all the way to the South side of San Antonio.
Folk-funk combo Dog Men Poets released a new album last month, audaciously pinching its title from Miles Davis' 1950 masterpiece, Birth of the Cool. After opening for former New Kid Jordan Knight on his recent South Texas swing, DMP remain busy on Thanksgiving weekend, with a Saturday, November 27 gig at Broadway 50/50. The live music gets started at 9:30 p.m.