Austin’s longtime favorite L.A. dance band Ozomatli will perform at Lady Bird Lake on Thursday, as part of the All Latino Concert sponsored by Voto Latino and South by Southwest. And this time, they’ll bring Mexican classic and contemporary hits with a Jamaican influence, like a remake of Selena’s “Como la flor” done with a reggae shuffle.
“Three of the members in our band are Mexican, and for our 20th anniversary we wanted to bring out elements of music some of our members grew up with,” said Justin “El Niño” Porée, who does percussions and vocals for the mostly Spanish album, a first for Ozomatli.
The album features artists such as Juanes, Regulo Caro, Gaby Moreno and others and was produced by reggae legends Sly and Robbie. Part of the album was recorded in L.A. and part in Jamaica, he said.
Some highlights include a mix of reggae and banda music by Regulo Caro to a song written by Julieta Venegas, “something you wouldn’t expect,” and also another beautiful song with Gaby Moreno, he said.
Ozomatli’s grassroots efforts go back to the band’s inception, when some of its members had a Peace and Justice Center in L.A. In order to pay the rent and utilities, they would hold events on weekends to raise money with bands and graphic artists.
“The band started as a jam session,” Porée said. The six current members are all original members, he added.
An issue they feel strongly about is immigration, and one of the songs featured, “De paisano a paisano” by Los Tigres del Norte, touches on said issue.
“Everybody has an immigrant in their family unless you’re Native American,” said Porée. “Whether you’re white, black, red or brown.” He says that, basically, “people who come here want to have a better life for them and their family and live in harmony with other people.”
Ozomatli will share the stage with Residente, formerly of the hip hop duo Calle Trece, and the rock-ska Mexican band Panteón Rococó.
Austin has a “great communal spirit, the food is amazing, it has great art,” he said. “There’s support for music here, a sense of having some backing, unlike L.A. where it’s more like little pockets, maybe because it’s bigger,” he said.
If you go: Doors are at 4 p.m. for the All Latino Resist Concert Presented by Voto Latino and SXSW at Vic Mathias Shores on Lady Bird Lake, 900 W. Riverside Drive. It’s free to attend with a guest pass.