La Cuneta Son Machin. Courtesy Photo

To the rhythms of cumbia with folklore, culture, idiosyncrasies, wittiness and certainly a touch of Nicaraguan slang, La Cuneta Son Machin has earned the respect and pride of representing the Central American nation of Nicaragua in the upcoming Latin Grammy music awards.

Their album “Mondongo,” named after the popular Nicaraguan dish, has opened the door for their nomination of “Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album.”

“There is no pressure to win the award,” said marimba and timbale player Carlos Mejía, when asked about the expectations of the Nicaraguan people and the responsibility of putting his country on the map. “Happiness is in the simplicity of it all.”

It was in 2009 when the group formed in the Nicaraguan capital city of Managua.

“Mondongo” album cover

“The band was founded spontaneously, among friends, while we were playing for other artists,” said Mejía.

For a long time, the most important figures in Nicaraguan music were those singing of the revolution, of revolutionary Augusto César Sandino, and of the peasants fighting for their freedom.

The fact is that Nicaragua is one of the countries in Latin America that has gone through a revolution, which changed the mentality, perspective, and the way of seeing the world for the Nicaraguan people.

“As a child, I felt that I identified with this music,” said vocalist Carlos Guillén, who is known by many as “frijol” (bean).

The sound of the guitar, the vividness of the memories, the feeling of struggle and love for this music hasn’t been lost, yet it has evolved.

Although La Cuneta isn’t the first group to have an impact on the direction of Nicaraguan music, they have managed to fuse different Latino and Caribbean sounds, while never abandoning their patriotic and cultural roots.

“Many people don’t understand our lyrics,” explains Guillén, noting the highly particular vocabulary present in La Cuneta’s songs.

Keeping their culture alive through each one of their songs is one of the group’s major goals.

“Many youngsters view it contemptuously. But we managed to bring out what’s awesome about the music,” said Guillén, talking about the position they have taken as a group in presenting Nicaraguan culture to new generations.

La Cuneta has travelled and performed in countries such as the United States, El Salvador, Venezuela and Costa Rica, the last being where they participated in the International Festival of the Arts. This summer they are expected to start their first tour of Europe.

Currently, the group has released three albums: “El Zafarrancho,” “Amor Fritanguero” and “Mondongo,” the latter will be available for free with the purchase of a ticket to their next concert in San Francisco.

In addition to Mejía and Guillén, the other members of the band include Cesar Rodriguez, Augusto Mejia, Fabio Buitrago and Omar Suazo.

La Cuneta Son Machin will perform at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O’farrell St., San Francisco on Feb. 13.