Chicago’s Latinx musicians rolled with the pandemic’s punches | Best of Chicago 2020

Chicago’s Latinx musicians rolled with the pandemic’s punches 

click to enlarge Clockwise from upper left: Lester Rey, ÉSSO, the Los Sundowns, Gabacho, and A Flor de Piel - A FLOR DE PIEL BY JOSE CALVO, OTHER PHOTOS COURTESY THE ARTISTS
  • Clockwise from upper left: Lester Rey, ÉSSO, the Los Sundowns, Gabacho, and A Flor de Piel
  • A Flor de Piel by Jose Calvo, other photos courtesy the artists

Despite the misfortunes of the pandemic, arts communities in Chicago found ways to keep calm and carry on. Latinx musicians, like many of their peers, pivoted from canceled gigs or tours into developing virtual projects and producing new music.

Family trio A Flor de Piel are inspired by Mexican son jarocho, but their love of fusions resulted in the EP Mental Lockdown, which incorporates electronic and lo-fi pop sounds and includes a cha-cha remix of "La Bruja" by DJ AfroQbano.

Daniel Villarreal, founding drummer of Dos Santos, was in Texas working with Grupo Fantasma guitarist and producer Beto Martinez when the pandemic hit. "It forced us to work from a distance and collaborate with other guest artists," Villareal says. Together they made The Los Sundowns, the self-titled debut EP from their Latin psychedelic soul duo.

Latinx soul artist Lester Rey collaborated with Texas producer MoonDoctor to release the EP CCFX (it stands for "Chicago Caribbean FX"), which highlights electro-Caribbean, tropical bass, and nu-movimiento sounds. Rey also appeared on the single "Por la Mañana" with Montreal reggaetonero Pierre Cruz and joined Súbele singer Jonny Fadez on the nu-cumbia tune "Mango Kisses."

Los Gold Fires guitarist Siul Reynoso, inspired by traditional Latin music and other vintage sounds, stripped his music down for a chill, nostalgic solo project called Gabacho. He'd already released a few singles under that name when he dropped a self-titled debut EP just as COVID-19 broke in the U.S.

Latin Afro-jam funk band ÉSSO decided to repackage their album Xicago as a string of monthly singles, beginning in May. And last September, front man Armando Pérez dropped the cumbia-heavy EP Raza.

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Performing Arts
March 19
Performing Arts
April 10