A few weeks ago, I briefly met Jason Zepeda, conga player and lead singer for L.A. band, La Chamba, and he handed me a copy of La Chamba’s EP “Araña”. Right away I was mesmerized by the sounds of the Peruvian sounds of Chicha and the social consciousness of their lyrics and I knew I had to catch their live act.
I was finally able to experience La Chamba in concert at the free concert series at FIGat7th in downtown L.A. this past Friday night July 19th. Not only was I pleasantly surprised that La Chamba were able capture their live energy onto their EP, but I also saw a band that is much more than just Chicha, I could hear cumbia, and salsa, but with a rock & roll energy.
After their performance, I was able to speak to the band about what moves them and their music and I was not at all surprised by their intelligence, eloquence and their sense of social awareness, just as I felt when I first heard their EP.
When I asked why an L.A. based band would be attracted to Chicha music, the band stated: “Chicha is the music of the working people, so we try to capture our life and our story in sounds and try to bring a little bit of ourselves to the melodies and the way we would like to project that energy and it is also a reflection of the audience and what we see every day and it is like a soundtrack to the Los Angeles lifestyle”.
I mentioned to the band the rock & roll feel I got from their music and the band explained that most of them came from rock & roll, some of them played in punk bands, and Alex, the guitar player, stated that his guitar influences are Jimmy Hendrix, Carlos Santana and blues, and when it came to learning how to play Chicha and the psychedelic surf guitar sound, it was an easy fit, as Chicha uses the same pentatonic scales that are used in rock & roll.
You can download La Chamba’s EP from Bandcamp and you catch La Chamba live at La Cita Bar on August 10th along with Misa Negra and DJ Fresko.