Maneja Beto’s new CD for all to laud
Tonight, local Maneja Beto fans will get dibs on the band’s third CD, “Escante Calling.”
The new album will be released on iTunes to a wider audience at a later, not yet determined date, but audience members at the Mohawk can buy “Escante Calling” on the spot.
“It will be the only place to buy for awhile,” says Alex Chavez, the band’s lead vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player.
The CD release party also will serve as Chavez’s sendoff party. He recently received a fellowship to teach at the Institute of Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He leaves Austin on Monday.
Those who fear this move means a split can rest easy.
“We’re definitely not breaking up,” Chavez says. “Obviously, this means a lot less live shows, but we’ll still write music and record together.”
The band that started out as a jam project almost eight years ago has become a successful staple of Austin’s Latino rock scene.
Patrick Estrada, (drums), still remembers being approached by Bobby Garza (percussion, keys, vocals) about joining the band back in 2002. The band’s members, he said, had no idea how to describe the project, or the music they were playing.
“No one understands us, no one understands what we do,” Chavez says with a laugh. But as with many jokes, truth lies within, and band members know it.
Garza recalls a review that gave him a glimpse of how misunderstood the band was to some people.
“I remember this write up that said ‘They’re in Spanish, so they’re not for everyone.’ And I thought, ‘Well, why not?” Garza says. “On my way over here, I was listening to some Portuguese music. I don’t know what they were saying, but the music spoke to me in some other way.”
Chavez says audiences get it. “Listeners in the U.S. would be OK with that, he says, “because that music was from Brazil or Portugal, and they’d shell out $25 and go watch that at Stubb’s.”
Maneja Beto are a group of American-born Latinos who choose to sing in Spanish. The music they write has a heavy influence in traditional Mexican song, sometimes cumbia, sometimes son, and sometimes something new altogether. They also inject their own influences — covering most if not all of the indie/alternative rock spectrum.
Most nights, when you walk into a Maneja Beto show, you’ll be taken to a place you’ve never been before — and you’ll find that you like it. Or, if you’re already a fan, you’ll walk into a place that is so familiar, you want to kick off your shoes. In either scenario, you feel a desire to dance. And if neither of those things are experienced, you’re as Chavez describes: “We’ve always been consistently inconsistent in terms of what we do. It’s an arc of different things we do and some people just don’t get it. Some people enjoy it, some people don’t.”
The band members say they hope this new record will change that.
“Of everything we’ve done, this is the most satisfying in a lot ways, at least for me,” Chavez says. “There’s something about it that is palatable, that can really reach a particular kind of people.”
Maneja Beto drummer Patrick Estrada practices before the CD release party at the Mohawk tonight. The local band’s music is in Spanish, but its sentiments bridge languages.