For a time in his life, Tom Landa shunned his Mexican roots. The frontman of the band Locarno grew up in Mexico City, but after moving to Canada as a teenager, he put his Mexican upbringing behind him, trying not to speak Spanish and ignoring Mexican culture.
“As I got older and got in touch with my Mexican roots, listening to that kind of music it became more important to me,” he told me.
Locarno, Landa’s band, is a mixture of a variety of music, from Cuban Son to folk, to pop and funk. Most notably, it incorporates Son Jarocho – a traditional music created in the state of Veracruz that blends elements of African, Arabic and indigenous Mexican music. Landa was turned onto the music by the band Los Lobos, who incorporated elements of it on their album La Pistola y El Corazon.
Locarno was started by Landa a few years ago as a studio project. He was fronting the multi-cultural folk band The Paperboys when he decided to start a new project where he would sing in his native Spanish.
“There’s a connection there for to Mexico and Latin Music and music sung in Spanish,” he said.
Land went into the studio with producer Joby Baker and some other musicians and created the album Una Mas Y Nos Vamos. From that, he recruited some more musicians and started playing live. He said it was important for him to do a more traditional Mexican album.
“In addition to me just liking the music there’s a connection straight to my – at the risk of sounding cheesy – right to my soul and my spirit,” he said. “There’s a connection there too that’s directly linked to my heart.”
One area where Locarno differs from Landa’s other band, the Paperboys, is the use of Spanish singing. Landa said singing in Spanish was a big part of starting Locarno.
“I think people sound different in their native tongue. I’ve been told that many times,” he said. “People said I sounded really different when I sing in Spanish. I’ve found the same thing. I’ve met people while traveling the world. A lot of people feel the need to sing in English but when they do it in their own language it’s so much better and so much more natural and so much more interesting.”
Locarno consists of a collection of talented Vancouver musicians of various backgrounds. Pedro Mota, who is also from Mexico City, plays guitar and provides back-up vocals. Kalissa Hernandez, a Chliean-Canadian, plays fiddle, incorporating both Celtic and Mexican styles in her playing. Robin Lane plays percussion, Justin James is on drums, Nick La Riviere and Mark D’Angelo on horns and Darren Parris on bass.
“There’s a really nice musical synergy between us and everyone adds something interesting,” said Landa.
Locarno is coming to Revelstoke this Saturday, Feb. 2, for two shows. First, they will be playing the Carousel of Nations at the community centre sometime between 4 and 7 p.m. Later that night they will hit the stage at the Last Drop.
“It’s fun, it’s danceable, it’s something that’s gone over really well at festivals,” said Landa. “I think it’s also something that appeals to people of all ages.”