More than 39 million viewers tuned into last year’s Grammy Awards, and with this year’s 15 Bay Area nominees competing in 11 musical categories, the city will wait with anticipation for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10.
With the never-ending amount of new talent, offbeat style and execution, the cocktail of influences the Bay Area has to offer is ever developing, and it’s no wonder that the region has nominees in multiple categories including: “Best Regional Roots,” “Best Latin Rock,” “Best Alternative Album” and “Best Instrumental Composition.”
Oakland-based Round Whirled Records has been nominated twice for “Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album” and “Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano).” The small Indie label is up against giants like Warner Music Latina, Sony Music and Universal Music Latino.
Greg Landau of Round Whirled Records and Hector “Hecdog” Perez co-produced musical group Los Cojolites. With their folk style and roots resonating from Veracruz, Mexico, they are nominees for “Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano)” for their album “Sembrando Flores.”
This is the first time a Son Jarocho album has been nominated under this category, which is usually dominated by Mariachi, Norteño and Banda music. Los Cojolites will be up against musical legends such as Lila Downs, Los Tucanes de Tijuana and Gerardo Ortiz.
“Los Cojolites has been called a huge sensation,” said music producer Greg Landau. “They were a group that was virtually unknown and now to be able to compete with artist[s] like Vicente Fernandez … it shows more awareness on that part of the border, and the virtuality that the Cojolites has been able to reach out across Chicanos.”
The group have also shared the stage with “Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album” nominee Quetzal from East L.A., who last year, were part of Acción Latina’s First Annual Son Jarocho Festival along with Sistema Bomb.
Quetzal, Sistema Bomb and Chilean musician Ana Tijoux, will be competing against each other for “Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album.”
“It feels like I really hit the mark,” Acción Latina Cultural Programs Director Camilo Landau said in reference to Sistema Bomb, Los Cojolites and Quetzal who participated in last year’s Son Jarocho Festival. “To have three bands nominated for Grammys this year shows the quality of their records.”
Producer and Sistema Bomb founder Hector “Hecdog” Perez’s solo debut, “Electro-Jarocho,” is also nominated for “Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album.”
“This is my first record after 20 years of composing … I decided to celebrate Son Jarocho music using my entire musical palette,” Perez said. “This was an art project, a work of art that I didn’t allow to be restrained.”
Their sound has been described as a trans-border collaboration between traditional Jarocho music and U.S.-based Latino musicians like, Asdru Sierra of Ozomatli, Los Cojolites, Son de Madera and Maldita Vecindad— artists who have taken the style, stirred it up and made it their own.
Changes over the years
The lyrical technique of Son Jarocho is a representation of a traditional form of music that had once been neglected and has now emerged through independent artists. It’s a rhythmic style of Indigenous, Spanish and African musical elements that have fused much like the recent changes in Grammy categories.
Last year there were changes made to several Grammy categories—some were condensed, discontinued or renamed—shrinking the overall number of categories from 109 to 78. In June of last year the Academy announced three new categories: “Best Classical Compendium,” “Best Latin Jazz Album” and “Best Urban Contemporary Album,” which brought the number up to 81 for 2013.
“There was a lot of public discussion and public outcry,” Greg Landau said about the merging of categories. “Historically, categories change as music changes. This narrowing down and merging made some big holes.”
However, “This year’s recognition of Son Jarocho musicians shows that the Grammys are not solely based on popularity, but that the people are voting on the merit, they are listening to the music, and taking into account the artistic side,” Greg Landau added.