La Santa Cecilia: Heir to LA’s Latin Music Throne?

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(KCRW Music Blog Contributor Jose Galvan previews a handful of bands performing at the 2012 Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York City, hosted by KCRW DJ Raul Campos)

In 2010, I curated a last minute Cinco de Mayo party and needed a band that was sure to get the party going. It was rumored that this fresh, young band from the LA area could turn any ordinary show into a dance frenzy. Without hearing their EP or seeing them live, I took a leap of faith and booked La Santa Cecilia. I was hoping that if they didn’t live up to the “party band” hype, at least they –having named themselves after the patron saint of music — would be good enough to play decent tunes.

Turns out La Santa Cecilia wasn’t just ok, they were incredible! Jaw dropping incredible! Their energy was so contagious that the entire place was dancing halfway into the first song.

Musically, they blend influences of jazz, cumbia, boleros, and klezmer with virtuous guitar licks compliments of Gloria Estrada and a menacing accordion played by the captivating Jose Carlos. On top of that, you have one of the most soulful voices singing in English & Spanish, in the form of frontwoman, La Marisoul.

It’s a true multicultural sound that can only be produced organically in a city like Los Angeles.

Stream their Latin Grammy-nominated track “La Negra” below.

Their performances are executed as if the band has been playing together for decades and their skillful transformation and re-arrangement of covers is mythical. They don’t play it that often anymore, but ask anyone who has seen La Santa live about their “Strawberry Fields Forever” cover. (Check out “Tainted Love” and “People Are Strange“)

After 3 independently released EPs (produced by Sebastian Krys) and headlining slots at Pachanga Fest in Austin, Silverlake Jubilee & Make Music Pasadena, La Santa Cecilia is ready to take their place as heirs to the musical legacy bands like Quetzal and Ozomatli established for LA.

— Jose Galvan