Two of the top underdogs in the Grammy 2016’s Latin categories are heading to the Sunset Strip Feb. 16 for a pre-awards concierto that’s sure to shake up rock-centric Hollywood
Hyper-cumbia septet La Cuneta Son Machin, the first band from Nicaragua to ever be nominated for a Grammy, is co-headlining the show with Los Cojolites, the only son jarocho band to earn a nod for best Regional Mexican Music Album (this year marks their second nomination in the category). It will be the first ticketed concert either band has played in Los Angeles.
Los Cojolites has cultivated a niche following for 20-plus years, but their folkorico jarocho sound native to the southern Mexican state of Vera Cruz has recently seen a resurgence, as bandas throughout the country revive the distinctive blend of Caribbean, African, Spanish and native Mexican influences. Their music was featured in the movie Frida and they have collaborated on fusion projects with many diverse groups such as Rage Against the Machine’s Zach de la Rocha and Lila Downs. They are nominated this year for their latest, Zapateando!, and face stiff competition from well-known banda, norteño and mariachi bands like Los Tigres del Norte and Banda el Recodo.
La Cuneta Son Machin was an even more surprising name on the list of nominees in the Grammy’s Latin categories this year. This relatively unknown band of young nicaraguenses are up against major names like Pitbull, Bomba Estereo, Monsieur Periné and Natalia Lafourcade in the Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album category for their album, Mondongo, named after a cross-cultural tripe stew eaten as a hangover cure.
The band may be newcomers to the international spotlight but they come from a very famous Nicaraguan musical family. Several of La Cuneta’s members are sons of singer Carlos Mejia Godoy, who was one of the leaders of the nuevo cancion movement of the ’70s and ’80s, writing politically charged songs that aligned him closely with the Sandinista revolution. Through this bloodline, La Cuneta members are also related to Luis Enrique, a nicaraguan singer who grew up in the U.S. and through his success in the ’80s and ’90s became known as “El Príncipe de la Salsa.”
But La Cuneta is not its parent’s revolutionary music and it’s definitely not its cousin’s salsa. It’s something entirely new and modern but still rooted in the rich culture of Nicaragua, a sound born on the sidewalks of Managua from a love of cumbia, ska, rock ‘n’ roll and Caribbean rhythms – a musical mondongo of sorts.
The last time La Cuneta performed in L.A. it was with Carlos Mejia Godoy at a Nicaraguan cultural festival in La Puente. Los Cojolites played a free show in Boyle Heights in 2013, while they were in town to attend the Grammys the last time they were nominated.
Now, these two Grammy-nominated Latin acts head west – West Hollywood to be exact – for their first concert on the famous Sunset Strip. Dance the night away, then tune into the Grammy awards ceremony the following night to see who takes home the golden phonograph.