“The band’s instrumentation is crazy,” says Flores. “We have a Cajon that’s from Peru, the Box, we have a Marimbol, a large Kalimba that we use as a bass, which is a West African instrument that came through the Caribbean and then to Mexico.”
They use zapateado, tap dancing on wooden boxes for percussion, a variety of string instruments like traditional guitars, mandolins and a wood guitars akin to ukuleles, and also, “we play the quijada de burro which is actually a donkey’s jaw that gives us this great raspy percussive sound. We also use Native American flutes , and gourds.”
The songs speak of longing, their parents journey crossing borders and life in East L.A.; They tell stories of love and struggle and often use social satire to point at political inconsistencies.
Multi-instrumentalist and singer Denise Carlos sees the band’s work as a collective endeavor and for her “music makes sense as a way to provoke a dialogue on present social and political issues. You don’t always have to talk politics.” Carlos ads, “if you are singing it in a very fun way, you hear the beat, you dance to it, but the words start meaning something to you.”
After their performances in Philadelphia the band will continue touring and teaching workshops at universities and community centers across the country. But, as the saying goes, you don’t have to be Latino to get the music; their energy, mix of languages and musical references to blues, hip hop, punk rock and Latin American folk, gets the Las Cafeteras message across.
After all says Hector Flores “we sing in five languages: English. Spanish, Spanglish, Justice and Love”