Don Chicharrón Album Release

Don Chicharrón

The story of Don Chicharrón starts in Peru, the birthplace of Chicha music. Chicha was the sonic result of forward-thinking coastal and mountain-dwelling Peruvians mixing the various aural stylings of their day: ‘60s psychedelia, Andean traditional folk music, and cumbia. What came out was a music for the common person—electric guitars imitating jungle sounds, a wall of celebratory percussion, exuberant vocals, all aimed at making people dance. It was a movement for the masses: live music for the laborer, a synthesis of the sounds and colors of the Amazon filtered through a handful of foreign influences (read: out of country and out of body/mind). The sounds stretched through the decades, channeling surf rock throughout the ‘70s and romantic ballads in the ‘80s. So how did Don Chicharrón, hereafter known as Don Cheech, a modern-day 9-piece collective out of Denver come across it? Easy. Don Cheech plays Chicha, and Chicha is from Peru.

Enter Aldo Pantoja, a first-generation Peruvian-American from Denver, who grew up mostly playing rock and hip-hop. Unaware of his ancestors’ ties to Chicha, he made it through the first quarter of his life overlooking the music of his parent’s generation. A music that was often paired with festive celebrations and late night inebriations, fiestas that were not suited for young Aldito. During childhood visits to Peru, he was forbidden to go anywhere near an event like that. But Chicha parties in the rural towns of the Andes can be heard for miles... loud crowds and cumbia could be heard echoing in the night, while Aldito and his brothers wondered why their parents were so protective.

Years later, while living on the East Coast, Aldo heard Chicha live for the first time at a festival in Brooklyn. Los Wemblers de Iquitos, one of the legends of the genre, played for a dance-fueled American audience of hip, hippie, and latinx folk. While everyone was experiencing something so new to them, Aldo was remembering a certain cumbia he heard from afar throughout his childhood. And he heard it call loud and clear: Aldo had no choice but to form Don Cheech.

The early days of the band were riddled with a few misses. Aldo’s parents were not impressed with their son’s rendition of their native music. Numerous lineup changes morphed the sound into something that wasn’t quite Chicha. The band was trying to emulate the chicha greats, without success. It wasn’t until Don Cheech remembered that Chicha was about blending cumbia with original, unique and foreign styles. A couple years passed and, after acquiring musicians he had known throughout his childhood and a few new acquaintances, Aldo and his eight bandmates brought their own influences (metal, reggaeton, spaghetti western, salsa) to cumbia, thus creating their own brand of Chicha. The band recorded it live and the result can be found on Don Chicharrón, its debut LP.

That is not to say that Don Chicharrón does not recognize the greats. The album contains nods to Peru’s Chicha champs like Los Destellos, Los Wemblers and Los Mirlos (“Éxitos”) while also incorporating classic huayno (Andean folk heard on “El Humahuaqueño”). But it’s the album’s own blend of Chicha, coming from its nine songwriters, that demonstrates both their respect for the genre and insistence on implementing their own styles. From its epic, entrancing opener, “Camino Del Ratón” to the somber samba closer, “El Coyote”, Don Chicharrón showcases triumphant guitarmonies (“Mosquito Cumbiambero”), social justice-infused gritos (“De Mal Humor”), mesmerizing percussive breakdowns (“Nariz Rota”), and un montón of honest pop hooks (“Regresar”). Themes of immigration, gun control, lost love, space travel and comradity weave in and out each side of the LP. Lead single, “Sábado Gigante”, is a Chicha tour-de-force, highlighting the genre’s staple characteristics and cleverly integrating Aldo’s Spanglish flow, which quickly become puro Españolon the synth-driven ode to “Yolanda”. Listeners without the greatest Spanish-language comprehension will get the point of each song: Aldo lays out his message very clearly—Don Chicharrón exists to make you dance, then think, and then dance harder. Aldo’s dad even became convinced: he contributed vocals throughout the record.

In 2018, Don Cheech shared the stage with Ozomatli, Sotomayor, Combo Chimbita, Tropa Magica and Y La Bamba. In 2019, the 9-piece orchestra will see the release of Don Chicharrón, as well as much of the United States, Mexico and Peru, on tour.

Los Mocochetes

Los Mocochetes are a Xican@ Funk band from Denver, CO. This colorful cast of characters fuses thoughtfully brazen, socio/politically charged song lyrics, groovilicious melodies and high-energy stage antics to create an immersive experience unlike anything you've ever seen before. Much like a machete, which can be used either as a tool to build or a weapon to kill, they have chosen to use their music to inspire and encourage positive social change. Every show is different, but it’s always a dance party with a purpose!
Los Mocochetes received the Westword Music Showcase award for Best Latin Band of 2017 and Best Funk Band of 2018. They were named Colorado Standout for NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest 2018 and opened for contest winner Naia Izumi on the Denver stop of his national tour. They have opened for a variety of national touring acts such as The Original Wailers, Lil’ Wayne, Flor de Toloache, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas, Dos Santos, The Chamanas and Lil’ Jon. They have been featured in festivals including the Westword Music Showcase (local headliner), Denver Post Underground Music Showcase, Colorado Latino Festival, A Taste of Colorado, Mile High 4/20 Festival, Tribal Visions (NM), and have performed at numerous iconic Denver venues such as the Bluebird Theater, Oriental Theater, Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, Denver Art Museum, Levitt Pavillion, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company, Mercury Cafe, Larimer Lounge, Syntax Physic Opera, Aztlan Theatre, Lost Lake, Hi Dive, 3 Kings Tavern, Herman’s Hideaway, Lion’s Lair, and a sold out Ophelia’s Electric Soap Box. The band has a strong connection to New Mexico, often touring the state playing as far south as Acapulco, MX and as far north as Cheyenne, WY.
The current lineup features artists with a wide variety of influences. They are poets, singers, painters, rappers, actors, musicians, dancers, producers, composers, dreamers, doers, thinkers. They are gente who make music together and enjoy all forms of creativity. The Mocochetes are here to ignite a fire in every audience member to enjoy the moment and then go out and make a difference!

High Plains Honky

Country music for cowboys, hippies, bikers, heads, freaks, wierdos, truckers and rockers.



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