From East LA to the World, Las Cafeteras brings their music and message to Joplin

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Interview edited for time and clarity.

FRED FLETCHER-FIERRO (HOST): It’s Morning Edition on KRPS. I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. You’re hearing Las Cafeteras. They will be performing this Saturday at the Joplin Empire Market’s Courtyard. For one show, starting at 7 pm.

Las Cafeteras (Hector Flores kneels in front)

Earlier this week, prior to boarding the band’s flight to Nebraska from Boston as they continued their tour, I caught up with one of the co-founders of the group Hector Flores. Las Cafeteras mixes English, Spanish, and Spanglish to create an upbeat sound that Hector says even if you don’t speak any of those languages, you can still understand what the group is saying.

HECTOR FLORES (GUEST): You know what? It’s wild because. If your music can capture somebody, if you can capture somebody sonically the lyrics can become secondary. Right, so it’s a balance. And I feel like everybody is going to receive things in their time. So some people might only receive the music and the movement and the 808s and the beats. And just go and draw with that; other people are going to receive the lyrics, some people receive both. And so I feel like you gotta, have more than anything, you just have to have a good beat and something has to make you move.”

FRED: The eldest of 6 children, Hector was raised in East Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley with parents born of Indigenous and Mexican roots. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach, and before transitioning to a career as an artist, he was an Organizer for over ten years in South and East LA.

Las Cafetaras, which means “the coffee pots” was formed in 2005 and began as a group of students who met while establishing the East Side Cafe in Los Angeles. The group was learning traditional Son Jarocho music, a style of folk music that originates from Veracruz, Mexico. Since then, LasCafeteras has evolved into a band that draws from multiple genres of music, infusing their unique sound with rich, meaningful lyrics. When he was growing up Hector didn’t envision a career or life as a musician mainly because.

HECTOR: I wasn’t trained as a professional musician. So, I didn’t start playing music until I was about 23 years old. So I went to college and got my degree. My parents were undocumented. I didn’t play music growing up, but I loved music. I went to college and got my degree, and became a community organizer. And I would use poetry and music as a way to convene and share stories. And have young people share their own stories.

FRED: The power of music was too strong for Hector not to become a full-time musician, traveling internationally with some of his best friends, sharing their message of building bridges among different cultures and communities, and creating ‘a world where many worlds fit’.

HECTOR: I’m so grateful that I was able to pursue a dream that if it ended tomorrow, I knew I laid it all out. I knew I gave it everything I had. You know, at the last Boston show, I left the stage, bro and I just had to drop to the floor. Because I gave it all. And I’m going to know when the time is done and when this wave is done that I did everything in power, to have a good time, to do what is my purpose.

FRED: Even after over 15 years of performing, two albums, and millions of views on YouTube, according to Hector, there are still times when he scratches his head and wonders if this life he’s living is for real. Like when they performed at the Hollywood Bowl for two nights or when the LA Phil played Las Cafetara’s own music.

HECTOR: You know we got to perform our music with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. I think arguably the best orchestra in the country. If not, one of the best in the world and they were able to play our music. That we wrote in our living room, you know that for me is wild. That was wild. So that gave me the confidence to say, yea we are song writers. Because you know, you doubt yourself. You doubt yourself in the journey. You doubt yourself. I would imagine as a journalist; there are times when you’ve doubted yourself or your ability to continue or to write the best stories. And after you write one story on to the next. And can you write a better story, a better narrative. And you know you have to battle those demons that tell you you’re not good enough.

FRED: Hector Flores and Las Cafeteras will be performing this Saturday as the final performance of Connect 2 Culture 2021-2022 Curtains Up Series. They’ll be at the Joplin Empire Market’s Courtyard. The concert starts at 7 pm. For 89 9 KRPS, I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro

Playing in the background was Ya My Voy off of Las Cafeteras 2017 release, It’s Time.

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