Lester Rey comes to the Turf Club.
Lets Celebrate Resistance on the 21st!
In the 1970s Latin American musicians grounded their music and lyrics in the day to day realities of the poverty of the countryside and the urban resistance to authoritarian rule. This political and musical movement was called Nueva Cancion, and was popularized by key figures such as Mercedes Sosa, Victor Jara, and Violeta Parra.. Nueva Cancion became the soundtrack for the mass movements that demanded a society grounded in social justice. As censorship and targeted killings increased Nueva Cancion became a central source of resistance. In response the state pushed back against the clarity of their words and celebration of resistance and these musicians became targets. Some went into exile and many did not survive, falling victim to the dictatorships, torture and mass killings. Under these deadly regimes, they were labeled subversives and “enemies of the state.” Nevertheless, their music remains with us as a celebration of our resistance and what Latin Americans have faced and survived.
While we are not facing the same conditions as the 1970s, we are certainly facing the terrifying reality that Donald Trump is our next president. None of us can really say with any confidence what’s going to happen. However, it is certain that the January 20th inauguration will be filled with resistance, solidarity and purpose..
In that spirit, on January 21st the Pochanga music series will feature the music and political vision of Lester Rey. We asked Lester what it feels like to be performing in Minnesota in light of the swell of activism around #nodapl.
What’s happening in North Dakota is just one of many fights to protect our water. The people of Peñuelas Puerto Rico have been fighting the contamination of their land, as have the people of Flint, Michigan their water. Indigenous people and poor people are most affected and of course are also on the front lines of the struggle. It’s a cause I feel connected to and that has actually already united many communities. So glad to see the Midwest cities in Minnesota and Illinois come together with North Dakota for this
The show won’t be an exercise in escaping and forgetting that Trump is now president instead it will be an opportunity to be in community as we collectively face an uncertain future. Over the last year and a half the Pocahange series has presented; Dos Santos, Esso, Buyepongo, Quitapenas, and Cumbia Sazo. Each of these groups carry a consciousness, curiosity and general concern for what’s happening in the world.
We have known Chicago-based Puerto Rican Musician Lester Rey for a couple of years and are excited to finally be able to host him. Lester Rey burst onto the music scene last year with his assertive, visionary mix tape Promesa. As the Chicago Tribune noted:
a mixtape aimed at fighting Promesa, or the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, which utilized a board of seven non-elected members from the United States tasked with restructuring the island's debt and running its governmental finances. Rey believes music can be a catalyst for change as it was for him. Rather than shy away from the political, Rey has embraced a forward-thinking attitude and audiences have responded.
We also asked Lester Rey what characterizes his sound and its relationship to the greater Puerto Rican Community
My sound comes from the spirit of the ancestors of my PR community. As we have migrated out of PR the sounds of our origins adapt to the multiple identities and realities around us. I believe my sound is one of many of these diaspora sounds that connects the black and brown origins of my islands music with the Chicago backdrop of Hip Hop, Blues, and Soul.
You can buy tickets here