Chicha Libre, Lamajamal | Martyrs' | International | Chicago Reader
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Chicha Libre, Lamajamal 

When: Thu., April 30, 9 p.m. 2009
Price: $10
Chicha Libre are the northern hemisphere’s sole purveyors of chicha. In the early 70s, inspired by the twangy sounds of bands like the Ventures, ensembles from Peru’s Amazonian interior retrofitted indigenous melodies and Colombian cumbia grooves with effects-drenched electric guitars, organs, and synthesizers; the resulting brew was named after a slightly alcoholic maize beverage traditional to the Andes. Though the music packs a psychedelic kick as potent as Brazil’s roughly contemporaneous and similarly syncretic tropicalia, it didn’t get much traction outside Peru’s working class until Olivier Conan, the French coproprietor of Brooklyn’s Barbès nightclub, happened across it. Entranced, he not only put out a couple CDs of the old stuff but formed a band to play it. Chicha Libre playfully mix vintage covers with simpatico originals and their own corn distillation—one standout on their album Sonido Amazonico is a woozy Andean transformation of Hot Butter’s “Popcorn.” Lamajamal opens. —Bill Meyer



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