Since I was a kid I would begin moving to the rhythm and reciting lyrics as if written on the back of my hands the moment that song played on the radio. Whether it was in the intimacy of my own home by myself or with family, or in an open atmosphere shared with friends and friends-to-be, the joys and innocence of dancing and singing hand-in-hand go un-matched. Now-a-days the radio and television don’t exactly have the most kid-friendly music with suitable lyrics, it can be difficult to find the right match and we all know music is better when enjoyed with others, especially live music.
The Amiguitos program at La Peña provides a space and atmosphere that upon entering I was immediately brought back to my childhood. Local artists and musicians alike come together with kids and adults to create an atmosphere that’s fun, welcoming, and lively. And after a great time with music there is fresh and authentic Mexican cuisine next door at Los Cilantros that the whole family can sit down to enjoy. Artists offer their own unique talent and style of music making each time a different and refreshing experience for everyone.
The Bug Family Band had the kids non-stop jamming to their originally composed music as well as the cover of classic children’s tunes. Even the “older kids” (adults) couldn’t help but bug out. Also really popular within the community is Your Song My Song, comprised of musicians Jaime Lee Currier and Eric Hart. With both Jaime and Eric being teachers it’s no wonder that they are able to keep the attention of both the kids and adults during their performances with such a high level of engagement and participation, their enthusiasm is contagious for anybody who’s in the room. Musician, activist, and educator, Bonnie Lockhart is also another great member of the Amiguitos team. Her knowledge of knowing how to play the guitar, piano, and percussion provide her a diverse range of sounds to get the children moving along. Drawing from different cultural backgrounds such as the Caribbean, Mexico, West Africa, and here in the United States as well as many more, Bonnie’s songs are as much educational as they are entertaining. Equally informative and inspiring for the youth is the EarthCapades theater performance. Performing at festivals, schools, and theaters across the country the show is a well-balanced mixture of music, comedy, storytelling, and audience interaction while raising environmental awareness.
All of these artists are just an example of the great talent that is shared at the center. The fall line-up has yet to be announced, but there’s no doubt that they will bring the same great energy and fun to the space as the previous ones. The roster of artists for the months to come will be up soon on the La Pena events calendar. Stay up to date by following La Peña on social media such as facebook, twitter, and instagram.
About the author: George Cheng is currently an intern at La Peña Cultural Center and an undergraduate student at the University of California Berkeley studying Interdisciplinary studies with a focus on Art and Social Change. George will be teaching a break-dancing workshop alongside other members of his student organization, Dwinelle Hall breakers, on September, 20th. Click HERE for information about the workshop.