[13 Apr 2015 ]
From Ballrooms To Concert Halls, Mexico Kept This Cuban Style Alive

The Salón Los Angeles is the oldest dance hall in Mexico City. The classic 1930s ballroom is located in a working-class neighborhood near downtown, and every week, it sees dozens of well-dressed couples of all ages moving to an orchestra of saxophones, trumpets, trombones, clarinets and percussion instruments.
The music is called danzón, and it was born in Cuba in the late 1800s. By early in the next century, it had couples gliding in set patterns in a kind of formal square dance. It was huge. But, like popular music in …

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[13 Apr 2015 ]
DJ Betto Arcos Spices Up The Accordion

Betto Arcos, host of Global Village on KPFK in Los Angeles and globetrotting DJ, is a frequent guest on the weekends on All Things Considered, where he discusses the music he’s found on his journeys. On this episode, Arcos shares music that utilizes the accordion, with eye towards coaxing new and unexpected sounds out of the instrument. Hear the conversation at the audio link, and check out the music below.
Jean-Louis Matinier and Marco Ambrosini
“Tasteggiata” from: Inventio

Kepa Junquera
“Sorginak Infernuko Hauspotik Irtetzen” from: Una pequeña historia de la Trikitixa

Chango Spasiuk
“Tierra Colorada (En Vivo en el Teatro Colon)” from: Tierra …

PRI's The World »

[13 Apr 2015 ]
A Mexican series finds overlooked stories of immigrants in America — including one from The World

Journalists love to tell stories, but they’re not always fond of being the subject. But that’s exactly what happened to radio producer Betto Arcos, who frequently covers music from Latin America for PRI’s The World.
Arcos is featured in a 15-part Mexican documentary series called ”Los Otros Mexicanos,” which shows average Mexican immigrants who have made a big impact on American society.
“When they first approached me about it, I kind of just sort of laughed,” says the 52-year-old. “I’ve always been the one always asking the questions … [but] they said they really liked the aspect about …


[5 Jan 2015 ]
Malawi Mouse Boys: Hunting Mice And Singing In Harmony

Malawi is a small, landlocked country in southeast Africa, one of the continent’s least developed, the population mostly rural and agricultural. But over the past two years, some of its music has begun to reach the wider world, thanks in part to the efforts of Ian Brennan.
Three years ago, the San Francisco-based producer set up a portable studio to record a group of gospel singers called the Malawi Mouse Boys. This year, he brought the musicians to the U.S. The group took its name from the job the members had …

PRI's The World »

[5 Jan 2015 ]

I was 9 in 1971 when Roberto Gomez Bolaños debuted his sitcom, “El Chavo del Ocho,” on Mexican TV.
My family had a small black and white set, and we’d sit around watching this new show, set in a working-class neighborhood with a cast of characters we identified with immediately.
We had a neighbor just like Doña Florinda, an older single mom in an apron and curlers, who complained about the ”low-lives” in the ’hood and warned her son not to hang out with “them.” Her teenage son, Kiko, was played by an adult in the kind of two-piece sailor outfit that little kids wear. He was a riot.
But …