They didn’t know we were seeds

Each member of this five-piece can handle lead vocals

Jarabe Mexicano play Civita Park on Sunday, August 26.
  • Jarabe Mexicano play Civita Park on Sunday, August 26.
Past Event

Jarabe Mexicano

  • Sunday, August 26, 2018, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Civita Park, 7960 Civita Boulevard, San Diego
  • Free

They tried to bury us / But they didn’t know we were seeds.” Hometown Latin-American rockers Jarabe Mexicano re-worked the old Bob Marley protest song “Get Up, Stand Up” and released their version of it last year for a couple of reasons. One was in protest of the kidnapping of some Mexican students who were never seen again. The other reason was an incoming president’s campaign to build a new wall along the Mexican-U.S. border. To the members of Jarabe, putting their Latin touch on that timeworn reggae anthem felt right.

“We named our version of the song ‘Semillas’ after those students. Semillas means seeds.” Gustavo Alcoser said that when I first wrote about Jarabe in these pages last year. “Get up stand up / Don’t give up the fight.”

But, they’re not an angry band. The Rasta cover song is an anomaly. Jarabe’s overall play is exultant, given their set list of boleros, huapangos, sones, and rancheras, cumbias, older American rock and roll to fit, and the random doo-wop. Why doo-wop? Because they have the vocal power to pull it off. Google translate says Jarabe Mexicano means Mexican syrup. Possibly this is in reference to the fact that each member of this five-piece can handle lead vocals. They are front man Alcoser, with José Martín Márquez on requinto, Kevin Lomes on vihuela, Chris Behrens with his guitarrón, and percussionist Danny Brito.

Jarabe Mexicano formed up into a band in 2015. Alcoser was born here but grew up in Tijuana. Brito was raised in Nogales. Lomes spent his childhood in El Cajon, Behrens was born and raised in Chula Vista, and Marquez likewise grew up Nogales. This is not a Mariachi unit, nor do they want to be Los Lobos when they grow up. It’s almost cliché to write that Jarabe jams old school Latin culture with youth energy, but so be it. It’s what they do.

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