Live Review: Edna Vazquez and Las Cafeteras @ The Melody Ballroom

Las Cafeteras

Words: Barak Goodman
Photos: Barak Goodman

Friday night the energy was high at the kickoff party for Inaguarada La Primavera at Portland’s Melody Ballroom with performances by Edna Vazquez and Las Cafeteras. The event was put on by Beloved Festival and Soul’d Out Productions and organized by Voz, “A worker-led organization that empowers diverse day laborers and immigrants to improve their working condition and protect civil rights through leadership development, organizing, education and economic opportunity.” Edna Vazquez

The evening kicked off with art from Alex and Allyson Grey and the sale of raffle tickets for their art in support of Voz. The first musical performance of the evening was from the ever captivating Edna Vazquez. Vazquez is a Portland based latin american artist, raised in Jalisco, Mexico, her composition has melded styles and cultures to create something completely original and wildly inventive.

As her show progressed, the crowd became more comfortable and dancing proceeded. The predominately Latino crowd seemed very at home with the music, and the crowd joined her in singing her final three tracks, with the whole crowd together for her popular single, “Asi.” The mysterious and enchanting performance set the stage for the following act, Las Cafeteras.

Las Cafeteras took the stage with a fury, wasting no time to engage the crowd and get them involved and dancing. Brother’s Hector and David Flores showcased their skills and intellect early on, Hector’ zapateado(tap dancing) brought the crowd close and got them dancing. David inquired the crowd after the first song, “What is this place were in? Portland? What was it called before that?” A response from the crowd came, “Multnomah, the tribe here was called The Multnomah.” To which David responded, ” Ok everyone, lets take a moment to appreciate where we are and what we have, and The Multnomah people, whose land we now inhabit” Las Cafeteras

After another 4 songs, Las Cafeteras exited the stage for a short intermission with speeches from various Voz organizers, all done in both Spanish and English. The speeches addressed the volatile political climate  that has been brought upon our nation by it’s current administration. They told stories about immigrants in our community facing arrest and separation from their families.  They addressed the fears of day laborers who are now more than ever in danger of arrest and deportation, and finished with the simple request, “Hire a day laborer” 

Las Cafeteras took the stage after these riveting speeches, adorned in “Yo No Creo En Fronteras”(I Don’t Believe in Borders” shirts and shook the venue with their final set. The group’s high energy as well as an eclectic range of instruments, the crowd was fully engaged through both sets, so much so that an encore was needed. They closed the night out with their famous and extremely political single, “La Bamba Rebelde” 

Es La Bamba Rebelde, es la bamba rebelde que cantaré porque somos chicanos, porque somos chicanos de East L.A. Ay, arriba y arriba ay arriba y arriba y arriba iré
Yo no creo en fronteras, yo no creo en fronteras yo cruzaré yo cruzare yo cruzare.

It’s La Bamba Rebelde, it’s the rebel bamba that I’ll sing
Because we are Chicano, because we are Chicano from East LA.
Ay, up and up and up and up and up and up I’ll go
I do not believe in borders, I do not believe in borders I will cross I will cross and I will cross.

Edna Vazquez


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