Quetzal performing at JANM’s Natsumatsuri last month. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)
Grammy-winning Chicano rock band Quetzal and internationally acclaimed TAIKOPROJECT join forces for two evening concerts on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 18-19, at 8 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo.
Blending Quetzal’s soulful son jarocho (Mexican folk music from Veracruz) with TAIKOPROJECT’s powerful Japanese-style drumming, the two community-based musical icons mine common ground to create a new sound that is quintessentially L.A.
From the ashes of Los Angeles’ 1992 rebellion/riots arose a collective of East Side musicians committed to respectfully continuing the legacy of over 70 years of Chicano rock. Standing on the shoulders of giants like Lalo Guerrero, Ritchie Valens, Cannibal and The Headhunters, The Brat, Los Lobos, and many others, Quetzal has created a path that has earned them the title of “one of Los Angeles’ most important bands”(L.A. Times).
Quetzal forges a sound that will simultaneously make you dance and contemplate change, a sound as rich and complex as their pluri-ethnic barrio experience. Their unique combination of community activism and creative compositions has allowed them to travel the world using music as a tool for creating a global network of musicians committed to building community.
Since 2002, Quetzal has been part of a transnational dialogue between musicians in California and Veracruz, known as “Fandango Sin Fronteras.” Many recordings, performances, and publications have been born from this dialogue. Their fifth album, “Imaginaries,” released by Smithsonian Folkways, received the Grammy Award in 2013 for Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album.
Founded in 2000 in Los Angeles by a group of young, emerging taiko drummers, TAIKOPROJECT has sought since inception to create a truly American style of taiko. Blending traditional forms in which they were raised with an innovative and fresh aesthetic approach to the Japanese drum, they have garnered critical acclaim from all over the world.
TAIKOPROJECT first made waves when they became the first American taiko group to win the prestigious Tokyo International Taiko Contest in 2005, beating out all the Japanese taiko groups in attendance. That same year, they were cast in a Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial, the first and only national ad campaign to prominently feature taiko.
They followed that up with performances in some of America’s highest-profile events, including the 2009 Academy Awards and the 2011 Grammy Awards. In 2012, TAIKOPROJECT performed for the televised National Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, D.C., the fall “X-Factor” semi-finals, and Syfy’s “Face/Off,” and was honored with the prestigious Visionary Award from East West Players.
In 2013, TAIKOPROJECT was featured in rock band 30 Seconds to Mars’ epic “Up in the Air” music video and appeared with the band on “Conan,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” 91X X-Fest, and the iHeartRadio Music Festival. They have also garnered national recognition by receiving major arts grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Japan Foundation.
TAIKOPROJECT has performed and recorded with some of the world’s most well-known musical artists, including Stevie Wonder, Usher, Alicia Keys, A.R. Rahman, John Legend, rapper Xzibit, Kanye West, Vicci Martinez, producer Squeak E. Clean, Sean Paul, and Diplo, as well as international stars such as Greek singer Antonis Remos, Persian singer Mansour, and DJ Tiesto. They were recently featured in an episode of Ovation TV’s critically acclaimed series “The Art of.”
This concert is sponsored in part by the Ford Theatres, a program of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and is part of Ford on the Road. To learn more about other Ford on the Road events taking place in Los Angeles County, visit http://FordTheatres.org.
TAIKOPROJECT performs at JANM’s Natsumatsuri last month. (Photo by Steve Fujimoto)