This year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership will not be the usual salute to corned beef and cabbage, green-tinted beer and mournful Irish melodies.
In the words of Taos Mesa Brewing co-founder Dan Irion, “I’ll tell the band they at least have to wear something green. But instead of cabbage and green beer, we’ll be serving up tacos and red beer, New Mexican style. There’s no better way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day and all things Irish than dancing the night away to contagious rhythm and nonstop Brazilian samba and batucada.”
The band providing these vibrant rhythms is called Baracutanga, and it will help revelers celebrate St. Paddy’s Day this Friday (March 17), 8-11 p.m., at the brewery’s location at 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west.
Baracutanga’s musicians — lead singer Jackie Zamora, vibraphonist and drummer Nicholas Adam Baker, bassist Carlos Noboa, trumpeter Paul Gonzales, guitarist Randy Sanchez, trombonist Micah Hood and percussionist Kilko Paz — met and began playing together in Albuquerque.
“We got together seven years ago, originally playing in old Brazilian batucada style,” Paz said. “A few of us would get together for fun, and then the band started growing. We started bringing more instruments and became a full band with brass, vibraphone and horns.”
Paz, who plays a variety of percussion instruments, came to New Mexico from Bolivia nine years ago and attained a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in geography. “I came here to study,” he said, “and then stayed because I found music and started working, and I like Albuquerque. I come from a country where we have 36 different languages, and that’s part of why I like it here — it’s pretty diverse in terms of people, climate and landscape.”
He explained that the band’s name was informed by the musicians’ commitment to using music as a force for social change.
“Baracutanga is an African voicing that means ‘people dancing.’ Because of its onomatopoeic sound, it’s a reminder of the percussive instruments that were dispersed throughout the Americas by the African diaspora that has vitally nurtured our native cultures,” Paz said. “Baracutanga is a group of experienced musicians of diverse backgrounds and origins that proposes to build bridges between the south and the north, overcoming the barriers of discrimination. The south conjugates the past and the future, and it is there where we find our roots as a key to survive in a modern world. Our music carries a message of reflection to ignite a positive change of attitudes, which must begin within us and with the acknowledgement of cultural pluralism.”
Baracutanga’s recent CD, “Importados” (translated as “Imported”), is a play on the band members’ countries of origin, which include Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and the United States.
“That is the key, I guess – something very important – that we come from different parts of the world and bring cultural and musical knowledge that go together,” said Paz. “We came together as a South American-style band, and we play many different rhythms: Colombian cumbia, Afro-Peruvian, Afro-Bolivian — every region has influence from Africa – also Brazilian music: batucada, samba and more. Some musicians are not that open. They’re more traditional and don’t think that genres and traditions should be mixed, but why not? It’s like cooking food. You’ve got to mix flavors.”
The band has released a powerful video for one of the CD’s songs, “Son de la Condenada” (translated by Paz as “Song of the Condemned”). It was conceived as a statement against hate and racism and shows the violence encountered by a group of people going northward. “We cross from south to north — no border, no wall, just walking,” Paz said. “We play a lot with the words — the north represents the futuristic technological advances, but the south is where we need to find our future. If we keep going north, we’re going to be lost. We’ve gone too far and we need to go back — to listen to the ancients, to the grandparents. Instead of looking for smart cars or smartphones, we need to be smart people. We need to learn to cultivate and do things with our hands — to go back to basics because that is the future.”
Paz spoke about the band’s mission. “We are using music as a way to spread a positive message about what’s going on in the world right now – to spread a message and to protest. We feel the need to speak out as members of this society affected by this. We feel the necessity to show support, and the best way we know is through music. If you don’t say something, you become part of the problem.”
Opening for Baracutanga will be another multinational band, Sol de la Noche.
“They are from Colombia and Mexico and New Mexico and play in Latin-South American style,” Paz said. “It will be a fun, dynamic show. Put your dancing shoes on and get up and dance. A lot of the people who come out to see us dance the whole time. It doesn’t matter how you dance. Just feel your heart and start moving.”
Tickets to the show are $7 a head. For more information, call the venue at (575) 758-1900 or visit taosmesabrewing.com. For more information on Baracutanga, follow the band on Facebook.