Feel all the nostalgia for doo-wop sock hops con sabor in this brand new video from Las Cafeteras for the 60s hit song, “Angel Baby.” This fresh bilingual Cafeteras recreation is a beautiful tribute to the power of the original song.
“Angel Baby,” made its original debut in late 1960 and quickly climbed to the top of the charts. It was written by Rosie Mendez Hamlin in East LA, and released along with the Originals on Highland Records. The song has been a consistent oldie played at all types of gatherings in Latino communities of East LA.
In this fresh version by Las Cafeteras, the song’s romantic pop emotions remain unaltered, allowing the musicians to subtly add their personal sound essence in other ways. In the live video recording, we love that they’ve kept things minimal and assembled intimately, and can’t get enough of that piano with another one set right next to it. As always, the band is on point with their individual style.
In an interview with Pan Caliente where the video premiered, the band mentions how empowering Hamlin’s musical legacy is to them, this powerful femme fronting a band in East LA in the heat of protests, walkouts and student movements for civil rights and equality. Que chingona, to say the least.
Production notes: The video was filmed and recorded at Seahorse Sound Studios in Los Angeles. Music production was handled by Wil-Dog Abers (yes, that Wil-Dog). The video was directed and edited by Damon Vonn. And, the audio engineer is David Reichardt.
For the curious, take a listen to the original in this cute and romantic dancing-couples-in-love compilation for the original song. I am in awe – as usual when it comes to songwriters and their perspectives on love – about the lyrics timelessness especially because it was written by Hamlin when she was 14. It became a hit shortly after. Such a force is love.
If you dig deeper, you’ll find out that Hamlin had to fight for credit for writing this song… her own song. There was a parting of ways along the way yet she continued creating music, touring and eventually forming a family with one of her fellow musicians. She continued releasing singles until she left us in 2017 at the age of 71.
More about Las Cafeteras
“Las Cafeteras is known for their unique sound created by Afro-Mexican instrumentation and the mixing of Mexican folk with the multi-cultural soundscape of Los Angeles – Cumbia, Rock and Hip Hop with a little R&B. The band is comprised of Denise Carlos (Vocals, Jarana Primera, Zapateado, and Glockenspiel), Leah Gallegos (Vocals, hand percussions, Zapateado, and Melodica), Hector Flores (Vocals, Jarana Tercera, and Zapateado), Daniel French (Vocals, Jarana Segunda, and Keys), Jose Cano (Drums and Cajon), Xocoyotzin Moraza (Requinto & Vocals) and Jorge Mijangos (Bass & Vocals). The new song and theme of the upcoming EP, is a collection of cover songs that influenced the Chicanx and Latinx band growing up in L.A. Taking on the American classic “Angel Baby” ballade sonically pushes Las Cafeteras into new but familiar sounds. “It’s one of those songs that was on the Low Rider Oldies mix tapes I grew up with.” Daniel recalls, “Back in the day at family parties in North-East L.A. our parents would bump oldies and Motown a lot. So, for me it’s part of my soundtrack to growing up in L.A.” Denise adds, “it reminds me of singing along to oldies with my mom while she did my hair when I was in high school. It was moments like that made our relationship special and sweet.”
The new song is rooted in L.A. culture, much like Las Cafeteras. And they were influenced by both the song sonically and socially. Denise starts, “this song was written by a young woman (Rosie” Méndez Hamlin) of Mexican descent in the ‘60s in L.A. when racism and segregation ran rampant. Rosie and the Originals was a racially mixed California band with a female lead. That is STILL uncommon. I’m super inspired to be following in her footsteps and continuing the legacy of interrupting the status quo through music and with love.” Daniel adds, “ ‘Angel Baby’ was recorded in an airplane hangar, in a very DIY way, and they got the song played first in a department store. Like us, we started in a non-traditional way, with our roots in Mexico and beyond.” Daniel continues, “It’s an honor to share a song so important to Chicano music and so recognizable from that period. It’s a way for me to connect with my Mom’s generation. And it’s something we connect with.” To keep with the vibe of the original track, Las Cafeteras recorded the song in Downtown Los Angeles. They also added in a verse in Spanish and mixed in their own Afro-Mexican sounds.
Las Cafeteras will be performing “Angel Baby” plus songs off the new EP and fan favorites at their Hollywood Bowl performance in support of the Gypsy Kings on August 2nd and 3rd, 2019. This will be the band’s first show at the iconic venue, and it is also a hometown show for the band and brings the new song and EP full circle. Hector shares, “When my mother first came to the United States as a teenager, she was un-documented … but she was able to get a job at the Hollywood Bowl as an usher. Now to watch her son perform on the stage where she had once just dreamed of just attending a show is truly an honor.” Denise adds, “It’s pretty surreal to be playing one of the most important venues in the country, and a historic LA site. It is an honor to be able to sing and share music and dance with the city who raised us,” Denise continues, “And to bring our families to share in the experience. For a lot of them it will be the first time they set foot in the Hollywood Bowl. I actually am new to the experience myself too. I always gravitated to local community venues or backyard gigs..and I simply couldn’t afford it to be honest. It feels good to make it home for even just a couple of nights.
Looking back at the new music about to be released, Daniel reflects, “We love oldies. Also, in a time when immigrant kids & babies are locked in cages without soap and clean water at our borders, when there’s so much ugly hate and pain in this moment, what else can remind us to shine like the power and devotion of love?” he continues, “Love is something our world needs so much more of right now. From the city of Angels to the worldwide.”
Information provided by Press Junkie PR.