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How the Tropicalia festival in Long Beach reflects Latino music across Southern California

By in Press Enterprise on November 7, 2017

By Richard Guzman

At first glance, the lineup for the Tropicalia Music and Taco Festival looks like hodgepodge of bands representing all sorts of genres that don’t really belong on the same stage.

The Nov. 11 festival at the Queen Mary in Long Beach features Los Tigres Del Norte, the reigning group in norteño music — a genre of Mexican music driven by polka beats and corridos (ballads about drug trafficking) — as the headliner. Also high on the lineup are Colombian pop singer Kali Uchis, who has worked with producer and rapper Tyler the Creator to hone her pop-soul sound, and Chicano Batman, the Los Angeles-based outfit who sport ’70s-style tuxedos as they perform feel-good music that blends romantic pop with Brazilian Tropicalia and ’70s psychedelic soul with a bit of James Brown spirit.

Nearly 50 other acts performing could fill nearly every genre in a record store. There’s reggaeton, ’60s soul, rockabilly, surf, punk, rap, hip-hop, electronic dance music, cumbia and even an accordionist who squeezes tropical sounds mixed with ska, reggae, hip-hop and R&B out of his instrument.

Yes, it’s all over the place, but as far as the musicians are concerned, it all makes perfect sense.

“I think it’s awesome. I think it celebrates being a Latino fan of music. It’s like a playlist of what I’ve been listening to my whole life” said Chicano Batman guitarist Carlos Arevalo.

The band is riding high off performances at FYF Fest and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this year following the release of its latest album “Freedom Is Free.”

Growing up in Rialto, Arevalo was immersed in all kinds of music, from cumbia to rock to punk and soul, all of which is on the bill for Tropicalia.

“I feel like it’s a musical history of Latino L.A., or just L.A. […]    

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