Pulaski County High School and Pulaski County Middle School students were able to enjoy a rare treat Tuesday morning as the group Las Cafeteras’ played a show to experience live music in a form not always heard in our area.


Las Cafeteras is an East Lost Angeles Chicano indie-folk band that has taken the music scene by storm with their infectious live shows, crossing many genres and borders along the way. The group uses several instruments not normally seen or heard in modern music.


Using “jaranas” and “requintos” (Mexican ukulele-sized guitars) and rhythmic percussion created by dancing on a wooden floor, the group mixes roots music as what has been described as “modern-day troubadours, combining Son Jarocho (Veracruz music style) with rock and a heaping spoonful of impassioned social justice.”


The group was born and raised east of the Los Angeles River. It mixes Afro-Mexican rhythms, electronic beats, and powerful rhymes that document stories of a community seeking to “build a world where many worlds fit.”


“Today we had the privilege of welcoming the musical group Las Cafeteras to PCHS to perform for Spanish and Fine Arts students from PCHS and PCMS,” PCPS teacher Mrs. Lauren Songer said. “The performance was engaging, fun, and educational. The members of Las Cafeteras shared their backgrounds and stories, as several of them are Mexican immigrants. They stressed the importance of celebrating each other's differences, honoring other cultures, and telling your unique story. The group showcased a variety of instruments they use, including small 8-string guitars called jaranas and even a donkey jawbone used as a percussion instrument. The group also demonstrated a type of tap dance called "zapateado." As the group finished with their song “La Bamba Rebelde," students were up clapping, dancing, and singing along. A great time was had by all.”


The group’s website states, “From Afro-Mexican to Americana, from soul to Son Jarocho, from roots to rock and hip-hop, Las Cafeteras takes folk music to the future. The group sings in five distinct languages – English, Spanish, Spanglish, love, and justice… and the members believe everyone understands at least one of those languages. The group’s electric sound and energy has carried it around the world, playing shows from Bonnaroo to the Hollywood Bowl, WOMAD New Zealand to Montreal Jazz, and beyond. The band has performed in the good company of Mexican icons Café Tacuba, Natalia LaFourcade, Lila Downs, and Gypsy Kings; Colombian superstar Juanes; hip-hop artist Common; Los Angeles legends Ozomatli and Los Lobos; and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.”


“I really appreciated that the band brought a variety of cultures into their music, from African to Latino, and talked to the students about how even though each of us is different we really are all the same,” PCPS Teacher Mrs. Andrea Heavner said. “The band shared their backgrounds with us, allowing the students to find a connection to each member whether it was through their interest in a particular instrument or something that happened in their life that made music meaningful to them. They had us introduce ourselves to the people sitting around us by sharing a little of our backgrounds. It's amazing how you can know someone because you see them at school, but then be in a situation brought together by music and really get to know who that person is on another level. They were so engaging with the students getting them involved with the music by clapping, snapping and singing. By the end of their performance, it did not matter what our differences were because we found our common ground in the music they brought to our school.”


Las Cafeteras’ came to the area this week to perform at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech, their first visit to the venue.