Felix Contreras

We are living through an amazing moment — a cultural shift spurred by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement that is bringing with it a rising awareness among men (some, at least) of the abuse of, or blindness to, the power imbalance at the bedrock of our culture, and of the abuse and misconduct that imbalance breeds toward the women in our lives, at work or otherwise.

Austin-based singer/songwriter Gina Chavez has always worn her emotions on her sleeve.

Her deeply felt ruminations on things like identity, love, life, fun and joy have made her music an Alt.Latino favorite for quite a few years now. Chavez's voice is perfectly suited to reflect all of those experiences and to take us to places where we dare to let our emotional guards down.

In the spring of 2014, I was in the audience at Vive Latino, the massive music festival held in Mexico City every year, when Chilean hip-hop artist Ana Tijoux took the stage.

There are not enough superlatives to describe Rita Moreno. At an age when most are well past their most productive years, the Puerto Rico-born Moreno just completed the second season of Netflix's One Day At A Time.

One of the first things to understand about Cuban music is that for most of the last five decades, there has been no recording industry there.

The Cuban government nationalized the existing industry in 1964. From then on, it more or less controlled what was recorded in the famed EGREM (Empresa de Grabaciones y Ediciones Musicales) studio complex in central Havana, a storied studio that I visited in 2016.

The folks at Daptone Records know a thing or two about the magic of recording studios.

Sometimes albums speak for themselves and other times hearing from the artists themselves helps us appreciate the nuances of motivation and influence. The Kansas City based band Making Movies certainly makes music that stands on it's own. Its 2017 album I Am Another You was a finely crafted collection of stories that reflected on the immigrant experience encased in a spectacular musical landscape.

During one of my first visits to New York in the early '80s, I was invited to a "private party." I was told not tell anyone about it or even reveal where it would be. So — of course — I went, intrigued by the clandestine, members-only vibe.

It was held in a dinky basement somewhere on the Lower East Side, where some guy had set up his home stereo in a corner while drinks were sold in small plastic cups for five bucks (cash only). There was a killer mix of disco (the '80s, remember?) and tracks like Led Zepplin's "Kashmir."

The following is an Encore presentation of a program that originally aired on December 17, 2015.

Enjoy!

Holiday music is typically a love-it-or-hate-it sort of thing. I'm a fan — my favorite is Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas — and I even I'll admit that musicians don't have many options for putting a new spin on holiday classics.

Then along came Gaby Moreno and her band.

For someone from my generation, which grew up with the sound, it is a complete joy to see younger artists embrace soul music in such creative ways. Equally thrilling is to witness the genre's influence in Latin America and how it has been interpreted by the region's vocalists, whose first language may not have been English.

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