Being featured next Saturday (May 21) for Local Spins Fest in downtown Grand Rapids, the leader of the Latin alt-rock band today reveals his picks for most influential albums and artists.
EDITOR’S NOTE: All musicians can trace their inspiration to key recordings that captivated them and influenced their careers. Writer Ross Boissoneau today showcases recordings that changed the world for Grand Rapids musician Julio Villalobos of Cabildo, which plays Local Spins Fest on May 21. Scroll down for a Spotify playlist of his picks along with a couple of tracks from McCray’s brand new studio album.
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Fans of the combination of Latin music and rock have more than just Santana to hang their cajons and timbales on.
The Grand Rapids band Cabildo fuses the rock side of the musical equation with sounds and forms from across North and South America.
Bandleader and guitarist Julio Villalobos hails from Chile, while his fellow guitarist and fellow Julio (Viveros) is from Mexico. Other band members call various locales across North America home.
“I grew up with folk music from Latin America,” says Villalobos. He started playing guitar around age 13, before moving to the U.S. Since then, he’s been part of various music scenes and bands.
His current group blends rock, folk, punk, ska and Latin American-based music such as cumbia into a heady musical stew. Much of the band’s music is danceable, and is often centered around a protest ethic lyrically. Those two elements often work in accord with one another.
“I grew up under a dictatorship,” Villalobos says by way of explanation for the music’s tenor. His influences reach back to those days as evidenced here.
Cabildo is one of six acts performing as part of Local Spins’ 10th anniversary celebration outdoors at Studio Park in downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday (May 21). Local Spins Fest kicks off with DJ SuperDre at 3 p.m., followed by Cabildo at 4 p.m., Hannah Rose Graves at 5 p.m., Full Cord at 6 p.m., Public Access at 7 p.m. and The Accidentals at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are just $20 and available online here.
1. Victor Jara, “Pongo en Tus Manos Abiertas” (1969) – There was this guy who started the singer-songwriter folk (tradition) in Chile, Victor Jara. He was a symbol of democracy. He translated American folk songs into Spanish. “El Martillo” was (derived) from “If I Had a Hammer.” (Note: Jara was tortured and killed by the Chilean military after August Pinochet came to power in 1973.)
Listen: “Duerme, Duerme Negrito”
2. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, “Vasos Vacios” (1993) – They were the band of my college generation. They started in the ’80s and blended ska and punk in Spanish. By the ’90s, their music was more into Latin rhythms and rock rhythms. There were a lot of those influences in what we do now as a band, the blend of ska with a Latin influence. The other guitarist, Julio (Viveros) and I both listened to rock and the music our parents listened to: cumbia, boleros. What we do in Cabildo is a rock version of pop and Latin to subvert folk.
Listen: “Vasos Vacios”
3. Metallica, “And Justice For All” (1986) – The other guitar player in Cabildo (Julio Viveros) listened to Metallica. His father is a luthier, he made guitars and harps. The most rock part (in Cabildo) is Julio’s guitar. It’s informed by metal.
Listen: “And Justice For All”
Currently Loving: Rosalia, “Bulerias” (2022) – There’s this woman from Spain called Rosalia. Her music is a mix of trap with electronic music and flamenco. She’s one of the most popular people in Latin America. That’s by choice. Also, my 10-year-old son is learning how to play guitar, so I’m listening to a lot of Nirvana.
Listen: Rosalia, “Bulerias”
ALBUMS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Julio Villalobos’ Playlist on Spotify