Guest article by Emily Burns
The Live Music Capital of the World is home to countless local musicians, and Austin rightfully prides itself on its community of artists and their diversity.
The Hispanic culture is a dynamic part of the city that naturally intersects our music scene. While there are many phenomenal local Latino artists, we narrowed our list down to a few of our favorites to see live! We’d love for you to share your favorites in a comment.
Folk singer and songwriter Gina Chavez is a bilingual Austinite who proudly embraces her Latin heritage through music. She effortlessly blends the sounds of the Americas and creates a contagious atmosphere at every live performance.
Her latest album Up.Rooted was independently released and is a collection of bilingual songs that dip into various genres such as cumbia, bossa nova, vintage pop, reggaeton and folk. Chavez is backed by a six-piece band and has made a prominent name for herself in the Austin music scene as an eight-time winner at the Austin Music Awards. Her group has also shared several performances with Grace Potter, Grammy winner La Santa Cecilia, Latin Grammy winner Gaby Moreno, Mexico’s Carla Morrison, Argentina’s Federico Aubele, Las Cafeteras from L.A. and Austin’s own Grupo Fantasma.
Chavez is currently focused on promoting her new official music video for “Siete-D” which was filmed last October in El Salvador. It follows Chavez on a passionate cross-country trek to reunite with her former students — young women she calls her Salvadoran sisters. Four of the women were able to attend college on scholarships from Niñas Arriba, a fund that was co-created by Chavez.
Migrant Kids were formed by two cousins, Miguel Ojeda and John Zakoor, who have been playing music together for 15 years. They moved to Austin from Detroit along with Bryan O’Flynn, a native of Cincinnati, OH, and the trio has been writing, playing and pursuing their music dreams since their first release in 2013.
The group is signed to Pure Joy Records and has made a substantial name for themselves in the psych jungle rock genre here in Austin. They’ve also been known to tour across Texas with another popular local group, The Bright Light Social Hour, and have received recognition from Austin Chronicle who named them “Best New Band” in 2014.
Their new video for hit track “Canvas of Me” premiered on Side One Track One earlier this month and the group recently released a new single called “Thread.” The most updated information on Migrant Kids’ latest releases and projects can be found on their Facebook page and website. You can also see an excerpt of “Thread” written by Miguel.
GOBI, short for Gold On Black Ice, formed when Justin Dillon and Chuco Phil first met in West Texas on the border between El Paso and Juarez. The duo would spend many nights in the Juarez discotecas (clubs) along the city strip, where up-tempo beats inspired them to create their own brand of electronic dance music.
Dillon and Phil, along with drummer Matt Dunn, quickly gained a reputation for their iconic subgenre, IDR (Indie-Dance-Rap), turning any club into a storm of rousing lights and rhythms. GOBI, now calling Austin home, has taken the stage with well-known electronic groups like Big Gigantic, Future Rock and Nobody Beats the Drum, to name a few.
Since its release in February, their album Gold On Black Ice has become the #1 most added album on CMJ’s Hip Hop chart and #3 most added on CMJ’s RPM chart. The Austin Music Awards also named GOBI winner of “Best Performing Band in EDM/Dance” during SXSW 2015.
The group is currently promoting their most recent single “Dream With Me,” inspired by tones of Deadmau5 and Nero with a more tangible approach, especially in their live performances.
Hadyn Vitera, or VITERA as most know him, is recognized for his integration of old school American rock with Latin rhythms and instrumentation, along with pop rock lyrics in both English and Spanish. He notes legendary influences such as AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Whitesnake and Juanes.
Based in Austin, this artist has an undeniable Texas edge to his Rock Latino blend, implementing a variety of different instruments including congas, horns and violins along with slide guitar.
Vitera, who was formerly a member of Asleep at the Wheel, is a versatile talent in any and all musical endeavors. His debut album, ¡Súbete! was an AlterLatino success, compounding powerful bilingual vocals and fierce rock violin and guitar.
In addition to his own accomplishments, Vitera continues to lead a collective of bands known as Movimiento Rockero, uniting artists and fans of their genre by releasing a yearly album compilation and performing monthly showcases at Austin’s well-known Antone’s Nightclub. He continues to perform around Austin and has been seen sharing the stage with iconic groups such as Los Lonely Boys.
Patricia Vonne was bred within the musical and cultural coalescence that is San Antonio, Texas. From this background, she draws a mix of Texan and Latino tastes to form her own blend of music: Texas Border Rock.
She grew up in a creative family of 10 kids, including her older brother, film director Robert Rodriguez. Vonne found her path in music through five successful albums. After living in a temporary home in New York, she decided to relocate back to the heart of Texas in Austin in 2001.
Her bilingual lyrics, flamenco dancing and undeniable stage presence continue to impress Austin music fans and establish Vonne’s role in the live music scene. She has been repeatedly recognized by the Austin Music Awards, named “Best Female Vocalist” in 2014. She is also lauded for her flair with signature instrument, the castanets.
Known collaborators include Latin music legends Charlie Sexton, Rosie Flores, Flaco Jimenez, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely and Doyle Bramhall. Vonne’s most recent release, Viva Bandolera, premiered last month and is a compilation of dynamic Spanish songs from her five previous albums.
No matter what genre of music you’re drawn to, these five artists are guaranteed to get you moving on your feet and embracing Latin rhythms and culture here in Austin. These artists’ live shows are unforgettable, always entertaining and are iconic staples in this Live Music Capital.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Who is your favorite Latino musical artist in Austin?
Emily Burns is a graduate of Texas State University with a dual BA in Electronic Media and Spanish and a psych minor. She’s passionate about travel, music, media, linguistics and new experiences! Her favorite way to spend her weekends is seeing live music and taking her dog Willow to parks around Austin.