This week, we bring you some creative insights from musicians and performers, live from WNYC’s Greene Space. Soundcheck host John Schaefer joins Maria Hinojosa to interview and hear performances from psychedelic salsa band La Mecánica Popular and Argentinian musician Juana Molina. We also look into diversity in New York theater with members of the Labyrinth Theater Company.
We would like to thank the folks at the Greene Space and WNYC, especially John Schaefer, Joel Meyer, Jennifer Sendrow, Katie Bishop, Dan O’Donnell, Ricardo Fernandez, and Irene Trudel.
Also thanks to Federico Mayol and Canyon Cody from the Latin Alternative Music Conference.
John Schaefer has hosted Soundcheck since the show’s inception in 2002. He has also hosted and produced WNYC’s radio series New Sounds since 1982 (“The No. 1 radio show for the Global Village” – Billboard) and theNew Sounds Live concert series since 1986.
Schaefer has written extensively about music, including the book New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music (Harper & Row, NY, 1987; Virgin Books, London, 1990);The Cambridge Companion to Singing: World Music (Cambridge University Press, U.K., 2000); and the TV program Bravo Profile: Bobby McFerrin (Bravo Television, 2003). He was contributing editor for Spin and Ear magazines, and his liner notes appear on more than 100 recordings, ranging from “The Music of Cambodia” to recordings by Yo-Yo Ma and Terry Riley.
Juana Molina stands out as one of the most talented Argentinian singer-composers of her generation. Raised in a family of tango musicians, Molina first made her name as an actress, starring in a quirky and popular sketch comedy show titled “Juana y Sus Hermanas.” Since 1996 she has released six albums as a musician to great acclaim in South America, the US and Europe – most recently 2013’s Wed 21. Her music skirts many lines: both experimental and pop, electronic and acoustic, contemporary, yet rooted in Argentinean folk music.
La Mecánica Popular puts a twist on a classic Latin sound: salsa. Led by Peruvian singer and pianist Efraín Rozas, the NYC-based band melds the heavy Afro-Caribbean grooves of salsa dura with the mind-warping textures of psychedelic rock. They replace the classic horn section with fuzzed out guitars and angular synthesizers, ultimately using the idea of “psychedelic salsa” as a meditation on the relationship between the body and the mind in representations of Latin culture. The group’s self-titled debut album is currently out on the Brooklyn-based label Names You Can Trust.
Paula Pizzi is an actress and director. Theatre: Los Monologos de la Vagina (Westside Arts), Unerneathmybed (Rattlestick Theatre), Face Cream (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Wit (original Off-Broadway company – Long Wharf Theatre, MCC Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, Union Square Theatre), Where’s My Money? (Manhattan Theatre Club/Labyrinth Theatre), Clean (Atlantic Theatre/Hartford Stage), Another Part of the House, (Classic Stage Company) Dark Rapture (Pope Theatre) Dating Dummies (Labyrinth) Director: All the Bad Things (Labyrinth) T.V./Film: The Smurfs, Fragil, Lloro. Law and Order, City of Angels, L&O: Criminal Intent. Paula wrote her first play “Hopping on Rooftops” and it was workshopped at Labyrinth where she is a founding member . She is also a member of Circle East.
Cusi Cram is a playwright, screenwriter, filmmaker, teacher, occasional performer, and a passionate advocate for women in the arts. She is also one of very few people who can claim the honor of Bolivian and Scottish heritage – her parents met at the United Nations.
Cusi has received three Emmy award nominations for her extensive writing in children’s television, most notably for WGBH’s, Arthur. She was also a writer on the Showtime series, The Big C, starring Laura Linney. Her play, Dusty and the Big Bad World, was optioned by Points West Films (Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt, producers). She is currently developing several original pilots for television, a web series about tour guides in the West Village, and a feature film titled, Three Graces, which she plans to direct.
Photo by Michael Katzif