Thursday, January 04, 2018

Chicanonautica: Radio Free Aztlán

 by Ernest Hogan
So here we are, 2018. 2017 was real desmadre. And everybody thought that 2016 was too much. I'm not making any New Year's predictions.

What I am doing is getting down to work, writing, drawing, and otherwise making Chicanonautica and Xicanxfuturisma. I'm watching what's going on, but I'm going to spend a lot of time in front of this here computer. Like a lot creative types, I like to have music to spark me along, and get it flowing.

I have a collection of CDs, and stuff I find on YouTube that are weird and eclectic, but these troubled days, I need something Latinoid to get focused.

Luckily, radio stations from all over the world have websites, and you can listen to them on your computer.

Here's a few of my favorites. Maybe they'll help you, too.

Radio Campesina is a network that grew out of the farm workers' movement back in the Sixties. They list César Chávez as their founder. They have eight over-the-air stations in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Washington, covering western Aztlán. I often listen to their Phoenix station while in my troque, wearing a baseball cap, going back and forth to work. At home I get on their website, where I can hear the current Norteño favorites that are mostly tuba-driven these days, as well as old favorites like Vicente Fernández, Los Tigres Del Nortes, and occasional narcotraficante ballads. They also do a good job with news for la comunidad local.

When I feel more like accordions than tubas, I click on Tejanos Best, where they play the Brown Sound from Texas—or should I say Tejas?--from their out-of-control room in Fort Worth (though DJ Peaches does her show from Phoenix). This is the place where your most likely to hear Flaco Jiménez and Steve/Estaban Jordan, plus new stuff from the Lone Star state. These days a lot of them rely a bit too much on the drum machine for my taste, but when they got the accordions rocking, I smile and start rocking, too.

Sometimes I feel like expanding my horizon beyond the border, and for that, La Poderosa—Sin Fronteras does the trick. That's right, Sin Fronteras! Without borders! Radio waves, the internet, music, all penetrate the walls that self-destructive societies try to build. La Poderosa is más Mexicana, and goes down south, getting into tropical sounds, cumbias, and often sounds I've never heard before, which is one of the wonderful things about radio. Especially, when you can discover something fantastic like Hechizeros Band. Welcome to the Global Barrio, cabrones!

Since, like the Cheech Marin song, I was born in East L.A., I enjoy the Chicano Radio Network. It's like cruising in a lowrider down Whittier Boulevard. Oldies mix with Norteño and what they used to call soul music. There's also a wide spectrum of Latin music, mixing with jazz, hip-hop/rap, reggae. They turned me on to the B Side Players and Dr. Loco's Rockin' Jalapeno Band. This is a place to discover new sounds, and rediscover old ones.

This all reminds me of when my dad used to tell me that back in his day the cops would pull you over if they heard old-school rhythm and blues (not to be confused with modern R&B) coming out of your car.

He and Grandpa also used to talk about shrunken heads being smuggled into Eastlos from South America, and guys hanging them on their rearview mirrors. Genuine tsantsas these days are hard to come by, and sell for big bucks. Could their story be true? Dad also claimed he used to have the “recipe” for making them somewhere. Where would he get it? Were there Jívaros in Eastlos back then? Are they there now?

Things to ponder while listening to Radio Free Aztlán.

Ernest Hogan has resolved to finish another novel, and to illustrate a lucha libre comic strip in 2018.


Manuel Ramos said...

Ernesto - thanks for the Internet radio tips. I suggest you check out It's a public radio station that streams 24 hours a day. M-F is jazz (the station has several awards and other recognition for its jazz programming); the weekends are eclectic. You will especially enjoy, I think, Sundays beginning with La Nueva Voz at 8 a.m. (Denver time), then Cancion Mexicana ("the best of New Mexico, Texas and Colorado music") 10 a.m., and La Raza Rocks (with Pocho Joe) at 1:00 p.m. KUVO is one of the best.

Daniel Cano said...

Ernest, thanks for the fun, informative post. I didn't realize so many stations were still out there. I guess I'd better get on the computadora more.


Gracias, Manuel and Daniel. I fill check out!