East LA’s Las Cafeteras empowers the voices of social good in Sonoma County

The Sounds of Solidarity ring true in LBC’s first community dialogue

What does “community” mean to you? How does art influence a community? What makes you feel like you belong? What does our community need to thrive, today and in the future? These questions are at the heart of a wide-reaching event this month that keeps our promise to connect community through the arts across schools, homes, and stages. In the case of The Sounds of Solidarity: Using Art as a Bridge to Connect Us – A Community Dialogue with Las Cafeteras, we are connecting multiple schools, two stages, and many, many homes throughout Sonoma County. All in the spirit of a better future for our community.

On April 25, LBC will gather community advocates and concerned citizens to participate in The Sounds of Solidarity, our first community dialogue. Facilitated by our Latino Advisory Council (LAC), the free event is part of a collaborative effort with Green Music Center at Sonoma State University and Las Cafeteras, a creative, socially conscious band from East Los Angeles, to advance the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This artist residency will feature performances, education programs, and conversation with Las Cafeteras, who inspired the collaboration in the first place.

In 2021, in collaboration with Cal Poly Arts and Tacoma Arts Live, LBC created The Muse Hour, a five-series virtual event to bring people out of their isolation and conversations about the pandemic to talk about other topics meaningful to their lives. That’s when we introduced our audience to the power of Las Cafeteras, whose performance fuses spoken word and folk music with traditional son jarocho, Afro-Mexican music, hip hop, and zapateado dancing to tell the stories of social justice that shape much of civic and cultural life in the United States. If that weren’t enough, our Q&A discussion with members of the band brought those urgent, relevant stories home to members of our community, and they continued to resonate in conversations for months after. Our members, donors, volunteers, and neighbors were so energized by their positive message of social change, LBC and the Green Music Center invited them back to help Sonoma County expand its own conversation about what our communities need to thrive.

Las Cafeteras are Native and migrant children who sing in English, Spanish, and Spanglish, using a remix of sounds – from rock to hip-hop to rancheras – and lyrics that document stories of a community seeking love and justice. Using traditional instruments like the jarana, requinto, quijada (donkey jawbone) and tarima (a wooden platform), Las Cafeteras use music as a vehicle to build bridges among different cultures and communities. They aim to create “a world where many worlds fit” – in other words, the “sounds of solidarity,” which lay down the lines for our community dialogue.

Sounds of Solidarity will be held from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in LBC’s Lytton Rancheria Grand Lobby in Santa Rosa. It will include a panel discussion with the band members, small group discussions in English and Spanish facilitated by LAC, and a Q&A session. Las Cafeteras will perform a musical piece during the evening.

“As Sonoma County’s gathering place for the arts, we have a responsibility to explore the potential for how the arts can heal a community and be an equalizing force for all who live here,” said Rick Nowlin, President and CEO. “Through collaboration with Green Music Center and Las Cafeteras, we are using music to encourage individual conversations out of our back yards and living rooms and bring them together to strengthen the voices and resources needed to create positive change to our cities, towns, and neighborhoods.”

Prior to participating in the community dialogue, Las Cafeteras will lead engagement activities with the Green Music Center earlier in the day, including a performance at a K-6 Spanish/English dual-language immersion school. On the morning of Tuesday, April 26, LBC will host a performance for students from a variety of schools across the North Bay, after which the band will join our music education staff for a student clinic as well as evening master class for our Mariachi Ensemble. Tickets are subsidized through the generosity of LBC’s Evert Person’s ArtReach fund and scholarships are available.

On Wednesday, April 27, Las Cafeteras will lead a workshop for education students at Sonoma State University and then present a public performance at Green Music Center at 7:30 pm. Students from the LBC Mariachi Ensemble may have the opportunity to perform on stage with Las Cafeteras that evening.

Community members are invited to participate in the community discussion. Visit the event page to register.

Tickets for the April 27 evening performance at the Green Music Center start at $25. To purchase tickets, visit gmc.sonoma.edu.

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